Meet the women who are taking back L.A. The all-female bike brigade Ovarian Psycos are pushing back against gentrification through community organizing and critical masses (actually, Clitoral Masses) of cyclers in L.A.– a place where car culture dominates, and, they say, “bike culture is dominated by middle and upper class white men.” As a collective of “womxn” of color, Ovarian Psycos are claiming access to these streets and affirming their community because it’s “dangerous to live in a society that doesn’t cultivate community, sisterhood, brotherhood and companerism@.”
For the past 6 years, these bikers have been organizing events like Clitoral Masses (which has become a national event) and Luna Rides– nighttime cycling under the full moon. And now you can get an inside view into these radical womxn’s action. A new documentary, Ovarian Psycos, debuted at SXSW on March 12.
In an interview with Good, Psycos founder Xela de la X (her pseudonym is a tribute to Malcolm X) said that she was reluctant about participating in the documentary. The filmmakers were white women, and de la X wanted the collective to be represented by other women of color. But filmmakers Kate Trumbull-LaValle and Joanna Sokolowski earned the collective’s trust, and the documentary was made.
The film centers around de la X and the collective’s journey forming a supportive group of female cyclers in Boyle Heights, in East L.A. The location is crucial, de la X explains: “When you’re talking about East L.A., Boyle Heights, there’s a very strong history of social justice movements, where we’re not going to be your stereotypical, docile Mexicans. We come from that.”
These women are challenging notions of space and accessibility. Within the increasingly gentrified area, there are developments like more designated bike lanes; they’re ostensibly signs of access, but de la X points out the contradiction in this thinking. Of the bike lanes and similar developments, she says, “it’s like, yes, it’s beautiful, but for who? For whose access? When the price of rent and the price of our homes are going up? When police are still targeting black and brown youth, who the fuck is this beautiful scenery meant for at the end of the day? It’s not for us. Obviously, it’s not for us.”
De la X has stepped down as the Psycos’ leader, a process documented by the film, to spend more time with her daughter. But she’s ardently passionate about their mission, and she’ll organize with the group for the rest of her life, she says: “Once a psyco, always a psyco.”
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