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Bicycles for Women?

A reader recently asked us this question:

Dear Tradition in Action,

With the help of Our Lady I am trying to develop my femininity. In this world of egalitarianism it is hard to distinguish the difference between men and women. I really see how much Feminism has changed women in just a short time period.

Before 1965, there was still a sense of feminine grace in women in the West, even though immodesty in dress was already to be found. But as Bishop de Castro Mayer said, it was better for women to wear miniskirts than pants. Because miniskirts still has a feminine appearance whereas pants changes the psychology of women to be ‘like a man.’

Women mountain biking

Mountain biking in revealing clothing

I see that certain activities are more suitable for men than women. For example, you wrote an article about about the process of gradualism here. [see also here] Riding sidesaddle on a horse is more feminine and protects against immodesty. Today in our revolutionary era, women ride horses “like a man.” When women do more manly things, they become more manly. This greatly influences how men treat women today, just like another man.

I would like to know what do you think of women riding a bicycle. Is this feminine or is it a masculine activity? I see many women riding bicycles and a lot of them wear pants. They race through the streets in all kinds of weather: rain, storms, etc. and in the summer they wear short skirts or shorts.

It looks and feels highly unfeminine to me. (By the way I also ride a bicycle). However, I have sensed not long ago that this feels uncomfortable, or at least misplaced. Is this form of transportation counter-revolutionary or is it fine for women to ride bicycles?

Thank you for your wonderful articles,

      Kind regards and God bless you,


TIA responds:

Dear NH,

We are happy to hear that Our Lady is inspiring you to imitate her by developing feminine virtues to counteract the revolutionary myths of Feminism. The Devil’s hatred for Our Lady is evident in his strong attack against true femininity.

Bicycles, the ‘new woman’ & Feminism

You observe well that all of the customs introduced by feminists were intended to change the psychology of women. This change occurred gradually in customs and dress beginning in the early 1800s and perhaps even earlier. Bicycling was a new recreation that emerged first for men and then for women; both served to further the onslaught of the Revolution.

vintage bicycling women poster

 The ‘new woman,’ her bicycle & her various ‘new looks’

The first women to adopt the bicycle in the late 1800s were suffragettes who abandoned the modest, feminine Victorian fashions for a looser fashion in which they exposed their ankles and bloomers to public view. They claimed that it was necessary to shorten the skirt for safety purposes for this “sport.”

This excuse was enough for the radical feminists to abandon their skirts for bloomers that were more practical and more similar to men’s pants, thus removing one more obstacle to women’s “rights” to equality with men. Soon bicycles became the symbol of Feminism and the “new woman.”

first womens bicycle race in France

The first women’s bicycle race in France in a park in Bordeaux, November 1, 1868

As this article explains, the promotion of the bicycle for women played a role in the “sexual revolution” of women as well as the clothing revolution. Not only were the bicycling styles a step closer to man’s clothing, they were also immodest and meant to encourage women to sit and stand in provocative positions.

The early bicycling bloomers for women led the way to women casting off even more articles of clothing. In the first women’s bicycling race in France in 1868, many of the women wore scandalously short skirts to help them to pedal better.

The ideal of a modest, pure and demure woman was being broken with the ideal of the new “liberated” woman who had the freedom to go wherever she pleased and to do whatever she pleased.

A reporter from The Courier (Nebraska) in 1895 observed that the bicycle changed the “old-fashioned, slow-going notions of the gentler sex to some new woman, mounted on her steed of steel.” That “new woman” had been freed from “the bondage of garments that have so long shackled and tortured her.”

Suffragettes champion bicycles as ‘tools of liberation’

Suffragettes with bicycles

The bicycle: political weapon of the early suffragettes

suffragettes marching with bicycles
Suffragetters championed bicycles as a symbol of liberation. Adamant woman’s rights activist and suffragist leader Susan B. Anthony was a great promoter of bicycling for women. At age 76, in an article that she wrote for The New York World, she opined:

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel … the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” (February 2, 1896, p. 42, col. 3)

Another early feminist, Elisabeth Cody Stanton, makes a similar statement published in The Courier: “Woman is riding to suffrage on the bicycle.” She adds that “she sees in the bicycle the promise of emancipation for which she had labored half a century”.

These strong statements show that bicycling was not just a recreation for women. It was a tool of “empowerment,” and played an important role in the feminist revolution. Women who adopted the bicycle were boldly preaching a new ideal for women: to be freed from all hierarchy, submission and duties.

bicycles quotes from feminists and suffragettes

Early feminists & suffragettes champtioned the bicycle as a tool of liberation

Many conservative women rejected the bicycle when it first appeared, but a few decades later, even these ladies were adopting this new trend because of its convenience and the benefits of physical exercise and health, which gradually became the idols of the modern age.

vintage bicycle tricks performed by women

Women reveled in bold new actions & the freedom that came with the ‘sport’

Such are the lamentable results of gradualism in the cultural sphere: After a small concession is made to a liberal or immoral customs, the door gradually begins to open, with one slightly bolder concession made after another. Finally, the door is wide open, and what would once have been soundly rejected by those making the first concession is then given free citizenship in society.

Any women seeking to imitate Our Lady ought to eschew the vulgar and bold way of being of the feminists. Since the bicycle was the expression of women’s liberation, it also should be eschewed by women as a recreation unfit for those called to be living models of the Immaculate Mother of God.

May Our Lady continue to guide you on the path that you have taken to imitate her spotless purity – of mind, body and way of being – in all aspects of your life.


      TIA Correspondence Desk

Vintage depiction of the liberating bicycle

‘The bicyle, the greatest dress reformer of the 19th century’


Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted June 9, 2023

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