The bicycle, when it was still new technology, went through a series of rapid iterations in the 19th century before it really went mainstream.
Designers toyed with different-sized front and back wheels, the addition of chains and cranks and pedals, and tested a slew of braking mechanisms.
By the 1890s, America was totally obsessed with the bicycle—which by then looked pretty much like the ones we ride today. There were millions of bikes on the roads and a new culture built around the technology.
People started “wheelmen” clubs and competed in races. They toured the country and compared tricks and stunts.
The craze was meaningful, especially, for women.
Both Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are credited with declaring that “woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle,” a line that was printed and reprinted in newspapers at the turn of the century.
The bicycle took “old-fashioned, slow-going notions of the gentler sex,” as The Courier (Nebraska) reported in 1895, and replaced them with “some new woman, mounted on her steed of steel.”
Photo: A trailblazing female surfer, Isabel Letham defied expectations of women of her era. (Supplied: Dee Why Library)
Female surfing is set to ‘skyrocket’ as major shakeup brings equal prize money. If you ask Pam Burridge what she sees when she looks at the above black-and-white photo, she’ll give you a distinctly technical description:
“I see her riding a board eight-foot-six long and really difficult to ride.”The fact that the photo was taken in 1911, and the surfer is a young woman, doesn’t faze Burridge, a surfing world champion.”I just see the pure joy of her trying to keep with the flow, just riding the wave, just loving it and feeling it — and the skill.
“Burridge, who is recognised as a pioneer of women’s surfing, knows exactly how much of her career is due to the woman in the photo: Isabel Letham.
Letham is such an inspiration, in fact, that Burridge named her own daughter after her.Confident from an early age. The only child of Scottish immigrants, Letham was born in Sydney in 1899, just two years before the Australian nation’s own birthday.
She grew up near Freshwater Beach, one headland around from Manly, where ‘surf bathing’ — swimming in the ocean — was all the rage.
Letham eagerly adopted the popular pastime and was a confident swimmer and diver by the time she was a teenager.
But this was Edwardian Australia — at a time when the archbishop of Sydney was advocating for sex-segregated beaches — so a girl needed more than just physical courage to flout the gendered rules of propriety.
Fortunately for Letham, her mother was an adherent of the first wave of feminism that was washing over the world.
“I had been brought up to stand on my own two feet at a very early age,” Letham later said in a radio interview.”I was quite determined I was going to ride a surfboard.”
Letham’s builder father initially objected, but, faced with his daughter’s determination, she says, “he changed his mind”.
He made her a beautiful board out of redwood.
Black and white image of women carrying a banner which reads ‘Union of Australian Women’ in the 1963 May Day March in Melbourne.
This photograph was taken by G.W. Bell of Melbourne.
Description Of Content:
Women Marching in May Day March carrying a banner, there are church spires in the background behind them.
It should always be the aim of woman to rise from the degrading position assigned her in the age of bestial ignorance and brute power.
Henrietta Dugdale (1827–1918) was a passionate, confident, and assertive feminist who was one of the pioneers of Victoria, Australia’s feminist movement.
She founded the Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society, the first of its kind in Australasia, and lived to see Australian women attain the vote in 1902, due in part to her relentless campaigning.
Henrietta was born Henrietta Augusta Worrell on May 14, 1827 in London, and named after her mother, Henrietta Ann.
She sewed her own clothes and was a skilled chess player, and early on became interested in public affairs. In 1852, she moved to Australia with her husband, a merchant navy officer named J. A. Davies. He died soon after, and she remarried the ship’s captain William Dugdale in 1853.
After over 15 years of marriage, Henrietta separated from William Dugdale and moved to Camberwell (a suburb of Melbourne), where she was to live for the rest of her long life.
Henrietta’s involvement in campaigning for women’s rights began in earnest when she wrote a letter to Melbourne’s Argus Newspaper that was published in April 1869. Using the psuedonym of Ada, she wrote about the Married Women’s Property Bill and spoke out in favor of equal justice for all women:
Along with suffrage for women, she campaigned for women’s dress reform, admission of women to the universities, education of the working class and more equal wealth distribution, and an eight-hour work day.
Along with Annie Lowe, Henrietta founded the Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society in 1884 with the goal of obtaining “the same political privileges for women as now possessed my male voters”.
The former transport union official Frederick Blake, recalled: “When the Dagenham girls came down to see Barbara Castle [then employment minister] in 1968 I was asked to sit in a separate room because she wanted to see them on their own, which is fair enough.”
Mr Blake was described by newspapers at the time of the strike as “the leader of the new suffragettes”.
“Although I was in charge of the union for the Ford factory I stayed in the background because I didn’t want people to think that a man was leading the women,” he added. “I was asked by the bosses to tell them to go back to work so we could keep negotiating, but I wouldn’t do that until we had a good settlement because there were men doing the same job and getting paid far more. It wasn’t fair.”
Mr Blake explained that he was an advocate of women’s rights long before the 1968 strike that made history: “When I came home after fighting in Burma in the Second World War and saw the damage that the bombs had done to the country, I thought,
‘Why don’t the women get medals for what they’ve had to put up with, too?’ That’s what first made me think about equality.”