How hard is it to be a woman in the cycling industry? Well, a new video from engineer and YouTuber Hambini in which he seeks to discredit Cycling Weekly technical editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan unintentionally underlines the point that it can be very hard indeed.
Clearly Hambini, who has more than 45,000 subscribers on the platform, has put a lot of time into producing the video, which has been viewed over 30,000 times – including trawling through Arthurs-Brennan’s social media accounts and personal website, as well as her posts published on Cycling Weekly.
According to his website Hambini works as an aerospace engineer and has sidelines in designing and making bottom brackets as well as producing his YouTube videos, with one uploaded recently criticising a Cycling Weekly article regarding testing of aero helmets.
As we reported on our live blog on Thursday, Arthurs-Brennan had taken strong exception to his reference to engineering tolerances in a caption to a picture of her. In a post on her personal website, she refers to it as “The ‘asks 44k people to comment on my vagina’ one.”
"Why does the cycling industry find it SO hard to attract women in key positions?"
— Michelle Arthurs (@RideWriteRepeat) April 15, 2020
Hambini, who believes that he is blocked from commenting on Cycling Weekly videos on YouTube because of his skin colour, seeks in his latest video to refute the accusations of sexism that have been directed at him in the wake of Arthurs-Brennan’s tweet – although the title he has given it, Feminist Cycling Journalist is clinically roasted by autistic Engineer in a suit would suggest to many that the fact she is a woman is a big part of his issues with her.
Referring to the journalist more than once in the video as “a girl,” among the accusations he makes against her are that she was guilty of “irresponsible behaviour” by tweeting that she had intended to ride from London to Brighton and back, which he claimed was against social distancing guidelines.
The tweet made by Arthurs-Brennan to which he refers was dated Saturday 21 March – two days before the UK entered lockdown, with cycling alone or with members of the household one of the forms of exercise that is permitted.
Moreover, the ride she did end up taking was confined to roads on the Kent and East Sussex borders, and covered 62 miles, which pre-lockdown, would not strike anyone as being excessive, particularly for a Category 1 racer.
Among other things, Hambini also flags up the infamous ‘Token attractive woman’ caption that accompanied a photograph illustrating an article published by Cycling Weekly in August 2017 – one that Arthurs-Brennan was certainly not involved in, and for which the magazine subsequently apologised.
Towards the end of the video, Hambini takes quotes relating to female anatomy and sex life from a post Arthurs-Brennan published on her personal website entitled Nine bloopers of being a woman in the cycling industry.
Then, providing no context, he throws them back at her in what can only seem an attempt to demonstrate that because Arthurs-Brennan used those words herself, she can’t accuse others of sexism, something that many people – and not just women – would see as a bit of a headscratcher.
Hambini also claims, “I asked an NHS doctor with a speciality in psychology to have a look through this and she was of the opinion that she [Arthurs-Brennan] was a feminist attention seeker.”
That “opinion”– any ethical considerations from a medical professional point of view apart – presumably helped embolden Hambini to posit, “If you were genuinely troubled by sexism, would you actually post this on your website?
Early on in the video, for no apparent reason, Hambini posts a picture, taken from her Twitter account, of Arthurs-Brennan, sitting on a train, wearing a dress.
“If you are going to comment on her appearance,” he says, “you might find a screenshot with her user name on Twitter that she’s taken later on today. I hope some of you that you won’t care but I’m just pointing that out.”
That certainly seems to go well beyond any criticism, valid or otherwise, of someone’s credentials as a journalist.
Editor's note: The old internet adage says 'don't feed the troll' so we thought long and hard about reporting on Hambini's latest video, but given that this particular troll has 45,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel and seems intent on proving the point that some people will go out of their way to make life hard for female cycling journalists we felt we didn't have a choice.
We also considered carefully whether we should embed, or even link, his video on this article. We decided on the former so our readers can see the video for themselves and form their own opinion as well as commenting on it should they wish to do so.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.