January 2016 Bicycles and Corsetry @AlinaMeridon

My publisher has given a tentative release date of June 8th for I Like It Hard, and it has been sent to a cover artist. We all have our superstitions, and I’m reluctant to believe it’s real until I have something to see, like a cover… so, fingers still firmly crossed.

Discovery Channel - Large Asteroid Impact Simulation - Video at YouTube

Discovery Channel: Large Asteroid Impact Simulation (2008), set to Pink Floyd “The Great Gig in the Sky”. Hauntingly beautiful destruction of the Earth.

Fatal Attraction

There’s something so addictively wonderful about this video of the Earth being destroyed by an asteroid. It’s terrifying from a human perspective, but from a cosmic perspective it’s… spectacular. And the music is a perfect fit.

1896, and All That

There’s a popular belief that the phrase ‘loose woman’ originates in the nineteenth century, describing prostitutes who didn’t wear ‘tight’ corsets and were thus ‘loose’. It makes sense, sort of. The popular image of Victorian ladies with wasp-waists, contrasted with the popular image of saloons in the Wild West wherein lingerie-clad women draped themselves over gunslingers, does lend itself to this interpretation. But the association of the word ‘loose’ with immoral behaviour predates the Victorian era by centuries. The phrase ‘loose women’ was used by Samuel Pepys in the 17th Century, and by John Adams (a Founding Father and later the second president of the United States) in the 18th Century, to refer to prostitutes; and ‘loose ladies’ is used in The Faerie Queene in the 16th Century, although not specifically to refer to prostitutes.

Despite repeated warnings about the danger of tight-lacing, there were always women who would tight-lace their corsets, in much the same way perhaps that women today will wear high-heeled shoes. The corset is blamed for many evils, and certainly the mass-production of cheap corsets combined with poor and ill-conceived designs and over-zealous mothers turned a fashionable article of clothing into an instrument of mass torture, but a well made corset worn properly has its uses. Far worse for Victorian women was the culture of repression that kept women as close to home as possible.

destructive cycle of feminine symmetry and poise

The bicycle changed everything. With the advent of the safety bicycle and pneumatic tyres, women everywhere were riding bicycles, travelling great distances to visit friends, getting lots of exercise in the process, and discarding their corsets for trousers. The demand for bicycles had a huge impact on the economy, much of the spare cash that had previously been spent on a variety of miscellaneous things was diverted to the purchase of bicycle parts. Even doctors felt the impact, their patients curing themselves through regular exercise and fresh air.

The height of the bicycle craze for women was in 1896. This month I have been hunting through newspapers from that year, looking for three specific phrases; so far, I have found only one. The search continues…

  1. Loose ladies and lascivious boys, The Faerie Queene, and the search for loose women,
  2. The perilous lack of corsetry, Rational Dress – loose women on bicycles
  3. Loosing my mind, more definitions and a hunt for a phrase
  4. Feminine Symmetry and Poise: Marguerite Lindley’s Advice to Wheelwomen, the discovery of a phrase
  5. Wheeling to Perdition – Rescuing Women from the Bicycle, salvation from the Woman’s Rescue League
  6. No More Worlds to Conquer, Oh, how the mighty are fallen!


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