Friday, February 10, 2012

The New Woman and Her Bicycle

While surfing the internet for something else, I ran across this Illustration about the fears of Women’s Rights and the bicycle. The illustration was originally from a 1895 edition of Puck  magazine (artists signature appears to be Joseph Ferdinand Keppler, 1838-1894) and the main title (for those of you who can’t make it out) is THE “NEW WOMAN” AND HER BICYCLE – THERE WILL BE SEVERAL VARIETIES OF HER. The funny thing about this picture (to me) is that it is hard to tell if this is for or against THE “NEW WOMAN”

The main/middle picture is of THE “NEW WOMAN” -  Starting with the largest picture of a slightly snooty looking woman dressed in Victorian Riding Cloths, my gut reaction is that they are mocking her… but if you look at her details, she is no longer afraid of mice. Where in the picture over her right shoulder she is shown standing on a chair with one of the vial beasts begging at her feet. I don’t mean this to sound sexist, but I am curious if I need to buy my girlfriend the hat or boots to get the same affect… and if it would work with spiders too…

Starting in the upper left and continuing clock wise:

 The “new” Servant Girl: her Sunday out – I guess they are worried about the city's unattractive “New Servant Girls” swarming the street? Now I have recently watched Downton Abbey, and I can say for certain most servant girls were highly attractive, so I am not sure what they were worried about…

The “new” Mother-in-Law, arriving for a long visit – Ok, I really don’t need to explain why this is a real concern, and significant fear! I do love that this joke works so well, even after 100 years.

The “new” Salvation Army Lassies All I can say about these “Lasses” is that I would ask them to not play the tambourine, bass drum, or read books while riding on our Tweed Ride… and we worry about people talking on cell phones…

The “new” Widow – To quote the Legendary Tom T. HallOh, some women do look good in black(I can’t believe I could come up with a ‘hot widow, at a cemetery, in black’ reference off the top of my head!), and I think Tom would appreciate this attractive widow morning her husband!  Honestly, I guess the problem was that she “might get around”, as you say, but I was unaware that Victorian women were supposed to burn themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre.

The “new” Nurse-Girl I do like that this Nurse-Girl is wearing a bonnet, and not a hat, and that they now actually make little baby carts! I kind of hope that the artist got a patented for this idea.

The “new” Washerwoman – All I can say about this poor lady is that she really should talk to that Nurse-Girl. That laundry must really hurt her arm. Part of the joke that will probably be lost on modern viewers is that for a long time suspenders/braces were considered undergarments, and no classy man would show them in public. This was the plumber’s crack of the Victorian Era. So here we have an unattractive, working woman showing her plumber’s crack.

We hope you enjoyed the picture!


  1. Hi there! I'm writing to tell you about a documentary I'm making called "The New Woman- Annie 'Londonderry' Kopchovsky," about a woman who cycled around the world in 1895. The journey was the result of a wager that a woman could never ride around the world, as a man had done a few years earlier. Annie Kopchovksy—a 23-year old Jewish immigrant with 3 young children and no cycling experience—volunteered to take the journey to prove that she could do anything that any man could do.

    I'd like to invite you all to be part of the 'Team Londonderry" Photo Project.
    We're collecting photos of cyclists from around the world showing their support for the film by holding up signs that say: “TEAM LONDONDERRY!” or “GO ANNIE." You can personalize your sign with your own name: i.e. “Alpena Tweed and Bike Club Supports TEAM LONDONDERRY!” The images will appear in an upcoming trailer for the film and on our website,

    Please send photos to, and pass the link on to your friends! Photo submissions are due by February 25. Can't wait to see your photos!

    Visit us on Facebook:
    Follow us on twitter @thenewwomanfilm

  2. Very cool idea! We actually brought up Annie in our Friday, June 3, 2011 Post “Bloomers in Women’s Fashion” We will see what we can do to help!