Who Wears the Pants?
Pants symbolize power — partly because men wore them long before women dared try them on, and men have historically held power.
But pants empower in practical ways, too. Like allowing much more freedom to move.
Once upon a time, women wore heavy skirts and petticoats that were bogged down with wire machinery. So stair climbing required care to prevent tripping over skirts. Even sitting could be tricky, lest a hoop skirt rise and reveal all.
Big skirts meant horses were mounted “side saddle,” allowing women to exert only “gentle control.”
Meanwhile, running and biking were difficult, which limited a woman’s power and independence, as well.
Eventually the bloomer was created — a pant for women that was designed after oriental and little-girl clothing of the period.
Bloomers allowed women to bike around. But they were harassed if no men were there to guard them — from both danger and from real freedom, I suppose.
But the bloomer was so ridiculed, by men and women alike, that few women risked wearing the liberating garb.
It all reminds me of patriarchy today:
- Even today some American women grumble, “I’m no feminist!”
- Saudi women still cannot drive. But they can ride bikes — for fun, not transportation
- An Indian man who raped and murdered a woman said she deserved it because women should not feel free to walk around at 9 o’clock at night
- Egyptian women cannot protest for their rights or even walk the streets without harassment
Who wears the pants?
Who has freedom?
Female autonomy sparks a remarkable level of fear among the patriarchy.
March is Women’s History Month.
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