Alright I thought I would talk about the history of the bike today and what influence it had on women. Don’t yawn, this is quite interesting stuff!
The bike was invented in the 19th century and in 1890 it became really popular for women. Why? Well for the same reasons as today: steering, safety, comfort and speed. Okay, maybe steering isn’t the top reason why we love bike riding, but think about it; the women had always been sitting in the passenger seat in the horse carriage and if they were to ride a horse, they would have to use a lady saddle so the comfort in transport wasn’t really there before the revolutionary bicycle came.
And yes, the bike was revolutionary. Have you ever heard about Susan B. Anthony? I hadn’t heard about her either before I started reading about the history of bicycles. She was a very strong woman from the U.S. she was fighting for the freedom of slaves and equality for women. And this is when it gets juicy; because what she said about bikes was:
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
There were two main reasons why it had such a big influence of the role of women. Number one: It was now possible for women to transport themselves fast and that gave them the opportunity to work outside the house. This made women see themselves as the equal of men and the bicycle helped her assert herself as such.
Number two: the women back then were dressed with corsets, long, heavy, multi-layered skirts worn over petticoats or hoops, and long sleeved shirts with high collars. Women simply couldn’t move! So for women to ride, they had to change the fashion and so they did! It now became sociably acceptable to wear baggy trousers.