The women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony may have said that the bicycle did “more to emancipate women than anything else in the world”, but the road along which it travelled was a bumpy one.
On 21st June 1895, the Newark Sunday Advocate ran the following article:
The Unique Cycling club of Chicago is all that its name implies.
One of its laws is that on all runs bloomers and knickerbockers shall be worn, and two members who disobeyed this rule recently met with a punishment that they will not forget soon.
Union park was the rendezvous for the last run, and 50 members turned out. The president, Miss Bunker, observed two women wearing short skirts over their bloomers.
“Take the skirts off,” ordered Captain Bunker.
“Indeed we won’t,” was the reply.
A crowd of 200 had collected to see the start.
The president and the captain held a consultation, and then, taking several strong armed members with them, fell on the skirt wearers and stripped them down to their bloomers.
“It was done in all seriousness,” said Mrs. Langdon. “The club’s rules are made to be kept and not to be broken. Why did we take off the skirts in public?
For no other reason but to make examples of the offenders. They publicly defied our rules and were punished accordingly.”