We’ve all been on those rides, meets or workshops where you walk up and instinctively either try sound like we know-our-shit (even when we have no idea why a belt drive is exciting the men around us) or default to playing dumb. Entering the moto scene I definitely avoided asking and would save my questions for when I could ask Adrian (husband) privately “what’s a triple tree and what does it do?”. 

The way I see it, the problem with playing dumb is three-fold.

Firstly, you’re almost instantly dismissed by the knowledgable and therefore gain nothing from being there. This equals bad for self-esteem and women-power at large

Secondly, this also removes the opportunity for the knowledgable to impart what is probably some hard-earned knowledge about whatever is in front of you, whether it is a full custom build or modified import car or even a custom paint job on a helmet. This equals bad for knowledge sharing and community building.

And lastly, and possibly most importantly, in your apprehension to ask what you think is a 'stupid' question, you’ve failed to realise that the knowledgable person, probably not all the long ago, had to ask the very same question

Just because someone rides, drives or even wrenches it doesn’t automatically land them into Shinya Kimura territory. We’re all beginners here, the only way to learn is to ask and listen. 

It is OK to know nothing. In fact, it’s better to be unassuming and ask questions than to play dumb and stay ignorant. Men face similar insecurities but for different reasons, as we assume that all men are born with mechanical know-how ingrained in their DNA. Suffice to say they don’t, and have as much apprehension about asking or “looking stupid” as women. 

Yes, I acknowledge that the few egotistical cock measuring zombies out there don’t make it easy, but if we went about life worried about what negative people think how far would that get us? Instead, we should be encouraging more people to ask… ask anything! I’ve heard Adrian ask builders “what’s the benefit to having reverse front forks?” only to be met with a surprised expression that reads something like 'you-really-don’t-the-answer?'. He holds his gaze and in that moment where most of us would clear our throats and try and save ourselves from utter humiliation he’ll say “yeh... that’s why I’m asking you”. Once that ego is gone people are usually willing to share their knowledge.

Please ask, be willing to listen and learn. Remember we all had to start somewhere and those with knowledge worth listening to are the ones who will be willing to share without judgement. 

Heleana is a force of nature. The founder of In Venus Veritas and The Petrolette, and a co-founder of Rising Sun Workshop. Heleana shares her love of vintage cars, riding motorcycles, and (not-so-secretly) dreams of flying planes and piloting a riva aquariva (a la Sophia Loren) very fast through the canals of Venice. Supportive and connected, community is her lifeblood, and she is as real as they come.