Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Rational Dress Society and why Bike Chic still makes me mad

from the article I posted previously, this portion is most interesting......

"Bloomers provoked wrath in conservatives and delight in women cyclists, and the garment was to become the centerpiece of the "rational dress" movement that sprung up at the end of the 19th century. The rational dress society statement of purpose reads in part: The Rational Dress society protests against the introduction of any fashion in dress that either deforms the figure, impedes the movement of the body, or in any way tends to injure the health. It protests against the wearing of tightly fitted corsets, of high-heeled or narrow toed boots and shoes; of heavily weighted skirts, as rendering healthy exercise almost impossible.... (Dodge, 126) The bloomer quickly made a host of enemies, however, and many a bloomer clad women complained of being ridiculed, fined, and even treated "like a prostitute" by local authorities.(Willard, 94)."

got a comment via email from a reader....

"that other article was very interesting, i love the idea of the rational dress society for women,

when you think about it, much of our clothing is for the benefit of men- high heels, tight clothes, low cut shirts etc., to me no different than the burka for Muslem women- all for men ( men control religion), not for women"

My point exactly and I do think Bike Chic is a very good example of this comment above.

I really do not think any woman in her right mind would put on heels to ride a bike unless to attract the attention of men.

As much as we enlightened ladies like to think we are enlightened, I am not so sure we are. We buy clothes not for comfort but to look good for men.

For us old ladies who fought the hard fight to finally not have to wear skirts and dresses to school, who never even owned a pair of jeans until in our 20s (there were no jeans for women prior to the hippie movement), biking in a dress just takes us back 50 years to the time when we had to wear skirts all the time.

I know many say, liberation is picking whatever you want to wear, but truly, would you pick those short skirts, tight shoes and low cut tops if you were going out biking with just women.

I doubt it. Who designs all those ridiculous high heels.. Jimmy Choo (sounds like a man's name to me)??

If you want to bike to work, fine, but put on appropriate clothes, pants, sneakers and a sweater for example. You only let men control your clothing choices when you bike in short skirts and tight tops. I see no choice in your biking clothing selection, only a lady trying hard to wear what men want us to wear.


Erica said...

Isn't spandex enough for these men?! Why must it be spandex skirts? What happens if you fall in your spandex skirt? I guess that's what they are waiting for.

Erica said...

And if you decide to go with the "safer" longer skirt. You will need more equipment for your bike - a skirtguard! I found a link on how you can make your own contraption since they are very hard to find in stores.
LOL too funny, can't wait to put one on my cannondale.

strfsh said...

Cycling chic (a.k.a normal street clothes) to work (and dinner and rock shows and church) here in Florida and previously to university in Boston.

You mentioned you once lived in Florida. Fortunately things here seem to have changed so it is easier to live and bike downtown (fortunately still flat as well). The suburbs are a mess but that's why I don't live there. I moved downtown in order to make my lifestyle possible and shortened my commute to 1.5 miles. I am fortunate that my job is downtown and not in some dull isolated office park. My comfortable range is 3-5 miles one way in street clothes depending on weather.

Since we're talking rational dress, I've found that here in Florida women's clothes are comparatively great for cycling. I can wear a dress, skirt (yeah ventilation) or capris, sleeveless shirts and lighter fabrics to work; feel sorry for the guys who are stuck with long pants and dress shirts in the heat. Also while I do often wear long pants to work in the winter they can get stuck in the chain unless they're tied back (I don't have a dutch bike) whereas a knee length skirt (with or without nylons) is free and clear. I don't have skirt guard and have never had a problem (though I have gotten the occasional jacket tied around my waist caught on a rec ride), in fact the shorter the skirt the better on that but at work they obviously wouldn't be keen on a mini. Even when it rains nylons or bare legs don't stay soaked like pants.

I buy all my clothes now with cycling in mind; tight ankle pants or capris to stay clear of the chain (again if i had a dutch bike it wouldn't be a concern), lightweight shirts (layering a lace shirt over a cami works nicely for heat, carry a sweater for the overzealous a/c indoors), never buy slide shoes anymore whether flat or heeled (flip-flops or clogs--now those are dangerous), bought arm warmers, layers are good; i generally prefer flared skirts rather than tight ones whatever the length for modesty and movement. Don't wear spiked heels walking or biking but I find heeled boots work advantageously much like motorcycle boots or riding boots and a slight heel forces you to ride on the ball of your foot, which is proper cycling technique, rather than towards the heel.

Also got an off-road cycling habit along the way and have picked up a second bike and proper gear but transport cycling on my old beater bike still comes first. I have a car i just choose not to drive it whenever possible; plus parking downtown is expensive. We barely have public transport here so that's not an option and cycling feels much safer than waiting on the corner for a bus at night anyway or even walking some distance back to the car or in a parking deck.

I see you found the project to use fashionable girls to lobby for better facilities. I find that some men don't want the facilities; I guess it offends their sense of adventure or machismo.