A scandal to their sex (1893)

Several ladies have written to the “Daily Telegraph” in indignant terms respecting what they term a scandal to their sex, the originating cause of their wrath being the cycling costume which some women have recently adopted for careering through the streets on a “bicycle made for two.” One lady, who resides at Merton Park, says:- “I protest in the name of every self-respecting woman, against the shocking and painful spectacle which has for the last fortnight, disgraced our public thoroughfares in some of the suburban districts – that of women who, in addition to the degradation of riding a bicycle, have further unsexed themselves by doing so in man’s attire. I contend that this proceeding is demoralising and calculated still further to lower the standard of man’s respect for woman, now, alas, so marked a feature of the age in which we live.” She fears that this demoralising fashion will carry away weak-minded sisters and asks “Can this movement not be stopped, on the score of illegality? If it be illegal for a man to wear women’s attire in public, is it not equally so for a woman to assume that of a man? And the costume of these women, consisting, as it does, simply of a Norfolk jacket, knickerbockers and stockings, was precisely the same as that of the men who accompanied them.” The fashion thus reprobated has prevailed in Paris for some time, which indeed will by some be held to be proof of its immorality and the objectors have at least the merit of insularity on their side. What with women voters and women bicyclists, in men’s attire old-fashioned doctrines of woman’s place seem to be undergoing a process of rapid development.
Nottinghamshire Guardian, November 18, 1893; pg. 4

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