Sexism and racism in old videos

Hi, new user here - new to static biking and Systm. I’ve been a subscriber for a couple of weeks now and really enjoying how Systm entertains while riding - much more motivational to me than Zwift.

Yesterday I did one of the old workouts - “Local Hero”, and it struck me that a couple of elements in the narrative come across as a bit sexist and racist. I don’t know if this is me being excessively woke, but the jokes about free and easy maids and dissing Belgians could be offensive to some people, and reinforce bad stereo types.

I’m not one to make a big deal about these things, but I have three young daughters and it does make me notice how a lot of the world can be stacked against girls, and I wonder how some Europeans would feel about the narrative?

I’d be interested in others thoughts, and wonder whether it’s the sort of thing the Sufferfest team might like to revisit in the interests of a more inclusive approach?


Without addressing your comments about Local Hero directly, there are loads of women’s races prominently included in SYSTM and Sufferfest has had an affiliation with Kathryn Bertine and her sterling efforts to promote equality for women in cycling.

Maybe Local Hero needs to be revisited but you are the only person I’ve seen here to bring up that video in this context. I rode it recently and can’t say I noticed the same way that you did.

Personally I have no problem with gentle ribbing about cycling nationalities.


It’s always good to have the discussion, I guess. And if there is material that could be deemed offensive, perhaps it is time to change - even a vintage video like Local Hero.

However, I’m in the same boat as @titanicus. I’ve ridden it recently and did not find anything offensive in the video. A lot of the jokes are typical cycling jokes and I enjoy comments that take the piss out of a rider that has at least twice the FTP of myself. Everybody knows that none of us on this platform is actually outdoing any of these guys.

I find that @David.McQuillen.KoS is very on the ball with regards to equality and inclusion. Likewise I’m following @Coach.Neal.H on Twitter where he is outspoken about such issues.


Hi Chris

Welcome to SYSTM and to what is a great community.

I haven’t done Local Hero in a while but I can tell you that the founding and development team take this very seriously and some old rides have been changed for this reason. I’m sure someone from Wahoo will weigh in but just in case I’ll include @David.McQuillen.KoS.


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Good thoughts from people, and I’m not bringing it up because it’s a massive deal or because I’m offended personally - rather it’s something that struck me about this older video where my sense is that the newer videos have a different tone.

For those that say they are not offended personally - are you female or Belgian? If not, then it’s not surprising you’re not offended as you’re not the butt of the joke. The point of inclusivity is that we think about people other than ourselves, and how our easy assumptions and jokes may land differently for others.

For the sexist part it’s a wider issue where it’s well accepted that society has historically tended to treat women differently to men (in a negative way) and where we see a one-sided joke (without equivalent piss taking for men) it might be worth thinking about whether this reinforces negative stereotypes in a way that is less acceptable now we’re past the 1970s/80s.


Oh, and I noticed the representation of women’s races too - I think that’s fab. Again, I’m not a feminist warrior by any means - just something I have tended to think much more about since having my own girls.


Dear Chris,
I speak in the name of old videos as they feel terrible after your post. You made a stereotype: “Old videos are sexists and racists” although you named only one video (Local Hero) which is in your opinion sexist and racist.


@akosk You may like to read the title again - I didn’t say “old videos are sexist and racist”. Rather it’s the title of a conversation as the point struck me as a watched the older video and it seemed to me to be different in tone to the new ones.

I can’t comment on whether it’s a wider pattern or not - just wanted to open the conversation and I’m interested in other’s thoughts.

Also I’m not really familiar with “cycling jokes” as I’m new to the scene (and don’t follow racing) so can’t comment on whether racial jokes/stereotyping/ribbing is normal or widely considered “OK”. Again, would be interested in other’s thoughts.


I think we have to be careful here, yes “easy women” is an old fashioned attitude and not particularly acceptable. I would venture there is not racism in the video. Being Belgian is not a race it is a nationality. The two should not be confused as this leads to diversions away from the real issue on regards to racism, a person of African origin is usually discriminated against due to their skin colour or cultural heritage rather than their nationality, I live in the UK, I am not descrimated against as I am caucasian although I am welsh, a person of colour is unlikely to be identified as Welsh in discriminatory discourse. So I think you are correct to identify old fashion attitudes towards women, but I would suggest rethinking the racism suggestion.


@Jason_Surridge That’s a good point you make, and I stand corrected that racism isn’t the same as stereotyping and joking about nationalities. The larger social issues relating to racism are of a different nature to nationality issues.

Still, how would you feel if there were repeated jokes about the Welsh in some of the videos? (Particularly if it didn’t feel like the national joking was evenly handed out?)

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Personally I wouldn’t be affected at all. I can’t comment for other Welsh people.

I think the level of humour in the videos is just fine, for me.

I know that Sir @David.McQuillen.KoS and the team have been through the videos and pulled some pop ups and story comments, so it’s clear they are on the ball and open to input.


You make good points @Chris_Winfield , and I’ll admit I’m neither female, nor Belgian. I’m a Dutch male.

Let me give you my perspective:

Historically, the Dutch and the Belgians have always taken the piss out of each other. It’s part of our cultures. I’ve never come across a situation where either side was offended because of it.

One of the reasons the Belgians are ‘targeted’ is because of their success in cycling racing. They are pretty much on top of the leaderboard every year:

Nations | ProCyclingStats

There’s great names coming from that country that we all admire, whether it’s Merckx historically or Evenepoel and Kopecky today, it’s one of the best performing countries in cycling. They are definitely not an underdog.

I’m not saying it’s fine to bully the big boy, because he’s big. Bullying is never acceptable.

It is however a comical way of showing respect to a great nation. And it’s simulating a situation where you can win from these big names giving me that extra stimulus. They do the same with the likes of Sagan and Nibali for example.

It’s like pretending to win a wrestling match with Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson, it’s great in our fantasies but will never happen in real life. Now the question is, would Dwayne be offended by it? I doubt it highly.


I was offended by the violent physical assault at the beginning of Local Hero. The young person that may or may not identify as a girl violently attacked the young person who may or may not identify as a boy, throwing them to the ground while taking the bicycle. That really shook me up.

(For those who don’t have a sense of humor, this is total sarcasm. It’s a great video. We can all find something to be offended by if we look hard enough.)


Damn #snowflakes everywhere :roll_eyes:

I’m Belgian and don’t minde being made fun (my wife neither, who is Belgian AND a woman, God forbid)

It’s called: Don’t take yourself (or anything) too serious. From the moment you can’t laugh with yourself anymore, it is you that needs to go and see a doctor.

As long as 1 group (or person) isn’t singled out, let’s just keep fun. Today it’s my turn and tomorrow it’s yours and the day after it’s somebody who is the “kop van jut” like we say in Flanders.

Live and let live. All this “woke” and “offended” sh*t is killing everything fun in the world.


It’s been a while since I rode Local Hero. So I’ll leave replies about that to others. Great discussion by the way.

I tried to watch a movie last night, “Charlie Wilson’s War”. I found the opening hot tub scene very offensive and ended up turning the movie off after seeing the sexism in Charlie’s office. It is an old movie and highly acclaimed, but it fails miserably when held to modern standards of sensibility and decency.

Where we have opportunity, it is good to fix old offenses. I am certain that the minions will review Local Hero and others. At the same time, it feels good to see the progress that we have made as a society. Because what was previously so commonplace that it went unnoticed is now often so blatantly offensive (speaking of Charlie Wilson’s War) that it becomes anathema to us.

Moving on to ribbing, a few years back I rode the Ride Across Wisconsin. At one point I was having a pleasant conversation with a fellow cyclist. Upon learning that I was from Chicago, he jokingly called me a FIB (F’ing Illinois B’stard). I was deeply offended by that, but smiled and laughed, because I didn’t want to make a scene.

The term was coined by Wisconsin state police who target Illinois drivers for tickets. So when in Wisconsin we have to drive the speed limit, creating a hazardous situation for others as we hold up traffic. This other cyclist was calling me a poor driver, slow and in the way. I dropped him after that!


Now I have to ga watch that movie. Hope it’s on Netflix.

If you’re offended when someone calls you a FIB as a joke, I think you’re more the problem then the solution. I get called all sorts of things because I’m from Antwerp (loud, obnoxious, all knowing …), I don’t care, it’s just funny (I go along with it: Hey I’m from Antwerp, what do you expect?)
I then, in turn, make fun af somebody else because they are not from Antwerp (the running joke in Flanders, you have Antwerp and the rest of Flanders is the parking lot)

These are thing someone might cal culture and have a social life. If you’re so easily offended, maybe it’s time to go and talk to a professional because it’s not healthy.

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You don’t get to tell me how I am supposed to feel or respond when insulted. And it was an insult, even if it was said in jest. I was not the problem, that smacks of victim blaming, but I did have a solution. I distanced myself from him, wearing my Knight’s kit as he tried in vain to hold my wheel.


When you’re having a pleasant conversation with someone, they don’t just insult you out of nowhere.
And if you don’t like it, say something. If you don’t say something, nothing will ever change (if it even has to)

You are correct, I probably should have said something. I was caught off guard and didn’t know what to say. Nor did I have a comparable insult to throw back at him, FWB isn’t a thing.

Could I have responded differently, sure. This was the first time I’d ever been called a FIB. It wasn’t something I was prepared for. But that doesn’t mean that I was the problem.

And my first response to situations I face is conflict avoidance. That is ingrained in my personality. It is also a perfectly acceptable response, but not always the best one. It can leave conflicts unresolved.

In this instance, the man was a stranger. I’ll never meet him again so I’m fine if he doesn’t know I was offended. But I think he figured that out when I dropped him.


Without getting too deep into what can be a very complicated and messy topic, I always thought of the jokes about others nations along the lines of sports teams ribbing each other, rather than attack on a whole nation.