The craze was meaningful, especially, for women. Both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are credited with declaring that “woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle,” a line that was printed and reprinted in newspapers at the turn of the century. The bicycle took “old-fashioned, slow-going notions of the gentler sex,” as The Courier (Nebraska) reported in 1895, and replaced them with “some new woman, mounted on her steed of steel.” And it gave women a new level of transportation independence that perplexed newspaper columnists across the country. From The San Francisco Call in 1895: It really doesn’t matter much where this one individual young lady is going on her wheel. It may be that she’s going to the park on pleasure bent, or to the store for a dozen hairpins, or to call on a sick friend at the other side of town, or to get a doily pattern of somebody, or a recipe for removing tan and freckles. Let that be as it may. What the interested public wishes to know is, Where are all the women on wheels going? Is there a grand rendezvous somewhere toward which they are all headed and where they will some time hold a meet that will cause this wobbly old world to wake up and readjust itself?
The bicycle, as a new technology of its time, had become an enormous cultural and political force, and an emblem of women’s rights. “The woman on the wheel is altogether a novelty, and is essentially a product of the last decade of the century,” wrote The Columbian (Pennsylvania) newspaper in 1895, “she is riding to greater freedom, to a nearer equality with man, to the habit of taking care of herself, and to new views on the subject of clothes philosophy.”
Yes, bicycle-riding required a shift away from the restrictive, modest fashion of the Victorian age, and ushered in a new era of exposed ankles—or at least visible bloomers—that represented such a departure from the laced up, ruffled down fashion that preceded it that bicycling women became a fascination to the (mostly male) newspaper reporters of the time.
According to a 2012 United Nations survey, more than half of Malawi’s girls are married before the age of 18. In addition, the country is ranked 8th out of 20 countries believed to have the highest child marriage rates in the world. Chief Kachindamoto is changing this one step at a time and has begun by annulling more than 850 child marriages, sending hundreds of young women back to school to continue their education, and by making astonishing strides to abolish cleansing rituals that require young girls to go to sexual initiation camps.
This is amazing. She’s like a real-life superhero.
In 1980, photographer Anita Corbin decided to turn her lens on the young women of UK subcultures. Over the next two years, rockabillies, mods, goths, rude girls, skinheads, rastas and more posed for Corbin and opened up about what it was like to be a young woman navigating an alt scene, and the importance of female friendships.
“I have chosen to focus on girls, not because the boys (where present) were any less stylish, but because girls in “subcultures” have been largely ignored or when referred to, only as male appendages.” -Anita Corbin, photographer, “Visible Girls”