Cycling is emerging as the preferred mode of transport in India for those who wish to get back in shape, save fuel, and be a friend of the Earth.
Cycles and Women’s LibBut there’s this to think about: at least bicycles don’t have back seats, like cars do, and you know what goes on there! - Anonymous
In the early 19th century, conservative Brahmin families of Pune were shocked at the things young women were willing to experiment with once they were allowed a college education. A poster lampooning the ways of such ‘modern’ girls showed the girls sipping the white man’s beverage (tea) and riding of all things – a bicycle! While it is uncertain what sins the women committed under the influence of tea, patriarchal society rightly feared the cycle as it gave mobility and therefore accelerated the liberation of women. Across the world, as bicycles began to be mass produced, they came to symbolise the New Woman of the late 19th century especially in Britain and the United States.
Feminist Susan B Anthony said bicycling did 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,” she declared. The bicycle also ushered a sartorial revolution for women. The age of corsets, elaborate lace and tight waistbands that allowed for very little movement, gave way to a new daring kind of underwear – bloomers – that allowed women to cycle for the first time. The Rational Dress Society – a group of women who argued for reasonable clothing – in 1888 shocked the world by declaring that the maximum weight of under-clothing (without shoes) for women should not exceed seven pounds. It was after this idea caught on that women reclaimed their right to mobility and rode bicycles.
Read ‘Women’s lib arrived on bicycles’ on www.cnn.com
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