Monday, April 25, 2011

the devil's agent

" . . . preailing Victorian fashion . . . required women to wear full-length dresses or skirts that hid any 'immodest' display of an ankle. These heavy petticoated garments, however, sometimes using over twelve yards of fabric, significantly confined the physical activities of women. When the bicycle craze emerged in the 1890s, the long skirts and slips hampered safe, comfortable cycling.

Fashion designers solved this with the 'reform dress,' but convincing American women that shorter skirts or bloomers were respectable presented a formidable challenge. Both the thought of women riding bicycles and daring such a radical change in dress met stiff resistance in some circles. The Rescue League of Washington formed to fight against women riding 'the devil's agent' and wearing bicycle apparel. The organization launched a national crusade to ask clergymen and women to supress the bicycle craze because of its vulgarity." Linda Lawrence Hunt, Bold Spirit: Helga Estby's Forgotten Walk across Victorian America, Moscow, ID: University of Idaho Press, 2003, p. 85.

we have come a long way, baby.

I'm just about ready to put on my cycling tights, bare a little ankle, and go flirt with my favorite devil's agent.

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