Posted on 6 May 2014 | 0 comments
The humble bicycle played an important part in women’s history, helping to redefine conventions of femininity during the women’s rights movements of the late 19th century:
“As women learned to ride bicycles they not only gained physical mobility that broadened their horizons beyond the neighborhoods in which they lived, they discovered a new-found sense of freedom of movement, a freedom previously circumscribed by the cumbersome fashions of the Victorian era as well as by Victorian sensibilities.”
But who would have thought that bike riding was such a drama for a woman back in the day. I do believe this list of 41 “dont’s” which was originally published by the New York World in 1895, would encourage most women to even forget about heading out for a ride … but then again, maybe that was the idea!
It’s not known whether the author/s were male or female, but either way this list has to be read to be believed.
- Don’t be a fright.
- Don’t faint on the road.
- Don’t wear a man’s cap.
- Don’t wear tight garters.
- Don’t forget your toolbag
- Don’t attempt a “century.”
- Don’t coast. It is dangerous.
- Don’t boast of your long rides.
- Don’t criticize people’s “legs.”
- Don’t wear loud hued leggings.
- Don’t cultivate a “bicycle face.”
- Don’t refuse assistance up a hill.
- Don’t wear clothes that don’t fit.
- Don’t neglect a “light’s out” cry.
- Don’t wear jewelry while on a tour.
- Don’t race. Leave that to the scorchers.
- Don’t wear laced boots. They are tiresome.
- Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you.
- Don’t go to church in your bicycle costume.
- Don’t wear a garden party hat with bloomers.
- Don’t contest the right of way with cable cars.
- Don’t chew gum. Exercise your jaws in private.
- Don’t wear white kid gloves. Silk is the thing.
- Don’t ask, “What do you think of my bloomers?”
- Don’t use bicycle slang. Leave that to the boys.
- Don’t go out after dark without a male escort.
- Don’t without a needle, thread and thimble.
- Don’t try to have every article of your attire “match”.
- Don’t let your golden hair be hanging down your back.
- Don’t allow dear little Fido to accompany you
- Don’t scratch a match on the seat of your bloomers.
- Don’t discuss bloomers with every man you know.
- Don’t appear in public until you have learned to ride well.
- Don’t overdo things. Let cycling be a recreation, not a labor.
- Don’t ignore the laws of the road because you are a woman.
- Don’t try to ride in your brother’s clothes “to see how it feels”.
- Don’t scream if you meet a cow. If she sees you first, she will run.
- Don’t cultivate everything that is up to date because yon ride a wheel.
- Don’t emulate your brother’s attitude if he rides parallel with the ground.
- Don’t undertake a long ride if you are not confident of performing it easily.
- Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing”. That is sporty.
You can read more about the impact of bicycles on the lives of women in “Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)”, published by the National Geographic.
This post comes to you courtesy of Brain Pickings, which is your “free weekly interestingness digest”.