When I first told ‘Management’ that I had joined my work’s Yammer group on Women in Science and Engineering, her pithy comment was: “Does that mean you’ll now do your share of the ironing?” (thus putting the ‘ouch’ into touché!). Unfazed by such comments, I then Yammered to my colleagues about the way that bicycling had contributed to the emancipation of women. Susan B Anthony’s well-known quote from 1896 was my starting point …
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done 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“.
… and this was followed by reference to a couple of articles on the MentalFloss and Grauniad websites (and there is a host of other web references that could be equally well cited).
Subsequently, and entirely by coincidence, the week after I Yammered about it an episode was screened of the TV series ‘In the Factory’ that was devoted to the manufacture of Brompton foldable bikes. In one of the show’s segments the historian Ruth Goodman presented how the bicycle had supported the emancipation of women. It was not as complete a treatment as the references above, but it did explain why specifically bicycling and not tricycling promoted the cause (apparently it was largely to do with the apparel required to ride the corresponding cycles)
“Anyway“, I hear you ask, “where is the quote that made you laugh?“. Well, I was quite tickled by the penultimate paragraph of the MentalFloss article that mentions Jacquie Phelan, a feminist mountain biker who founded WOMBATS, the Women’s Mountain Bike and Tea Society. And it is one of her quotes on the WOMBATS website that made me laugh. It chimes greatly with me and, I suspect, with Firstborn too:
“I never grew up, because grown-up has “groan” in it“.