I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.
—Susan B. Anthony 1896
In the interest of International Women’s Day, here are a few links of interest for the ladies:
Amongst the bicycle’s most important, and perhaps most enduring, legacies is its effect upon women’s issues; indeed the mark the bicycle left upon gender relations in the 1890s is difficult to underestimate. One must remember that the America of years past was one of rigidly defined gender roles, with distinctly separate spheres of activity for men and women. The distinctions between the sexes were certainly as rigidly defined as ever in the years leading up to the 1890s–the years we popularly refer to as the Victorian era. more
A woman with a bicycle no longer had to depend on a man for transportation and she was free to come and go at will. She experienced a new kind of physical thrill made possible by the speed of the bike. The bicycle imparted a parity with men that was both new and heady. In short, “more and more women came to regard the cycle as a freedom machine.” more
Velouria at Lovely Bicycle offers a beautiful painting in celebration of International Women’s Day. Anna at Cycling is Good for You has posted little movie called Beauty and the Bike. GoogleMaps bike blog offers some interesting resources.
…amid the delightful surroundings of the great outdoors, and inspired by the bird-songs, the color and fragrance of an English posygarden, in the company of devoted and pleasant comrades, I had made myself master of the most remarkable, ingenious, and inspiring motor ever yet devised upon this planet.
—Frances Willard (on learning to ride a bicycle) 1895
Happy International Women’s Day. Ride on, in style 🙂