Cycling has been, and continues to be contested terrain for constructions of gender. From the 1890s, with the development and subsequent popularity of the safety bicycle, women in particular became subject to an array of social and medical discourses about the benefits and dangers of cycling. While cycling is now widely understood as being beneficial for both women's and men's health, it continues to be contested terrain. This comes into sharp relief when looking at the more recent cycling activity of mountain biking.
This dissertation is about the representation of gender relations in mountain biking. Its contribution lies in the growing field of feminist studies of gender-technology relations. The central problem identified is that most feminist analyses of gender-technology relations are based on the assumption that gender is an already constituted field of social relations. However, I argue that technology not only acts within an already established field of gender relations, but that technology also acts to re/constitute these relations. Direct assessment of this is made possible via an examination of arguments developed by American feminist, biologist and historian of science. Donna Haraway. The main focus of the dissertation is on the ways in which Haraway's work can contribute to talking about gender-technology relations, and gender relations at the site of mountain biking
In this dissertation, I undertake a textual analysis of three mountain bike magazines -Australian Mountain Bike, Mountain Bike and Bike - over a period of four years, from September 1995 to August 1999. I show that these magazines have not been indifferent to contestations over gender in mountain biking. I argue that Haraway's work provides important insights into understanding these contestations, and how they contribute to the negotiation of the vexed boundaries between the inside and outside of mountain biking.