The Revival of The New Woman and The Bicycle Revolution

dbe8117b6cdea0ce4d479a8779397865The Tweed Ride is happening next month, where Kansas Citians dress up in late 19th century style clothing and ride bicycles through historical neighborhoods around the city. As a woman cyclist, I feel a sense of affinity with the suffragettes of this time period, the bicycle being such a powerful tool in the emancipation of women. “The New Woman” was a term used in that era to describe the modern female who broke free from convention and played a more active role in society and the workforce.

Susan B Anthony, wrote:  “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world.”  These words are just as relevant today.

With so many issues on the horizon regarding health, social and environmental concerns, cycling is a sure way to help mitigate these societal shortcomings. When we ride, not only are we enjoying ourselves in the outdoors with the wind in our hair, but we are setting an example and creating change.

arts-graphics-2008_1185915a-2The bicycle was a symbol of women’s independence in a male dominated society. It provided freedom from the Victorian Era restrictive style of clothing. The physical demand of riding a bike was cause to cast off the corset and shorten the length of dresses. The bicycle released her from the confinements of extreme modesty. The traditional forced hourglass image became passé and dress options evolved to allow for breathing and leg movement became more pragmatic and ideal. This physical freedom inevitably liberated the female spirit.

“Success in life depends as much upon a vigorous and healthy body as upon a clear and active mind.” ~ Elsa von Blumen, 1880’s American bike racer

There’s definitely something beautiful and empowering being witness to a woman on a bicycle, its no wonder I get the most compliments when I’m riding. Of course, like every situation, along with the good, comes the bad. Careful with those choice of words guys because strong independent women won’t stand to be degraded and will put you in your place.

Check out the women’s bicycling workshop tonight at UMKC.

Here’s a fun clip to bring out the feminist in us all.

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One comment

  1. The tweed ride reminds me of a joke: what’s the difference between a nicely-dressed individual on a unicycle and a poorly-dressed individual on a bicyle? Answer: attire!

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