Vroom-vroom: Victory for Dykes on Bikes

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office decides the word "dyke" isn't offensive after all.


Katharine Mieszkowski
December 9, 2005 8:56PM (UTC)

Ladies, rev your Harleys.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has relented, and allowed the lesbian motorcycle group "Dykes on Bikes" to trademark its name.

The government office had twice previously denied the group's application, deeming the word "dyke" offensive and derogatory, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. But the San Francisco group's lawyers retaliated with mountains of declarations from linguists, sociologists and psychologists, which convinced the feds that the slang term does not disparage the women who use it to describe themselves.

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"The word dyke has been used to put us down, and we have taken the name and reclaimed it as a source of pride," a victorious Vick Germany, the group's president, told the Chronicle.

The San Francisco Women's Motorcycle Contingent, aka "Dykes on Bikes," has been around for 30 years. The contingent proudly -- and loudly -- kicks off the city's annual LGBT pride parade each year. The group sought the trademark after a Wisconsin woman wanted to start a for-profit company called -- that's right -- Dykes on Bikes.

Congratulations to the real Dykes on Bikes -- long may they roar!

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Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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