Women and Trousers


woman in trousers

Hi there! Another night of insomnia so if you are still awake come on up to the attic and sit a spell. It is 2 am and I have had a total of one hour of sleep so far.  I’ve been thinking about women and trousers.

Did you see any of the articles a couple of days ago concerning a group of women  arrested for wearing trousers in Sudan in a public restaurant? They were dragged out of the restaurant and hauled down to the police station for indecency. That was not enough. A group of them decided to get the ordeal over with and took ten lashes. Others are fighting and may end up getting FORTY lashes.

We all shrink with horror every Easter time when we relive the agony  of Jesus for receiving THIRTY-NINE lashes. His back was raw because  skin had been torn away. We feel his pain yearly.

When will the control of women around the world be stopped? WILL it ever stop? I wish I knew how to insert pictures here. I’ve seen pictures of one of the women in the Sudan. She was still quite modestly dressed, especially by US standards. I do not understand the patriarchal attitude, especially since over there the men most often wear robes! They are quite comfortable in what we call dresses.

Women, it seems, have been the slaves of fashion for centuries. Not only are their wardrobes controlled by men, they are also controlled by other women. The top fashion designers have consistently been men who foist their ideas upon the public. The women slavishly follow the men’s every whim.

In the US, the idea of women wearing  “pants” has been around for a couple of centuries. At first the “knickerbockers” were worn under the skirts. The popularity of the bicycle in France helped spread the “craze” of trouser wearing. In America, Amelia Bloomer wore loose fitting clothing under her skirts around her legs, thus leading to the term “bloomers”. It became a term of derision and ridicule. Soon athletic bloomers appeared without the skirts.

George Sand was one of France’s most outstanding writers in the 1830s. She was well known for adopting male clothing to wear, especially trousers. She had the nerve to flout the system and the domineering world of fashion.

Marlene Dietrich in the 20s and Amelia Earhart in the 30s saw the comfort and practicality of wearing trousers and did so daringly and proudly.

Katherine Hepburn wore trousers most of her life starting in the 20s or 30s practically until she died when she was close to 100. She dressed that way much more often than she did in dresses. She adamantly stood up for her right to do so.

In the 1950s little girls in the winter wore leggings to keep warm. As they grew older, the leggings were shed, and they walked out in the cold in their dresses with bare legs, arriving at school with chapped red legs and knees.  No girl ever wore any kind of “pants” or trousers to school from elementary through college. I don’t know if it was just because of fashion or if it was written in school rules.

In 1970 the emergence in America of the “pants suit” occurred. I was very young and brave and probably stupid, but I chose to wear such outfits to work. Although I was not sent home to change, my evaluation included the fact that I did not dress professionally. My total evaluation was lowered due to my wearing “pants” to work. Within two years, the same boss who criticized me was wearing pant suits as well.

I honestly believe the pendulum has swung too far the other way. I see what I consider indecency in the clothing women wear in public every day. Perhaps it is a backlash from the decades of confinement and limitations put on their choice of clothing. I would prefer seeing the swing back closer to the middle.

I can understand the Middle Eastern desire to maintain modesty in clothing. Fundamental right wing Christian women in this country believe in wearing clothing that is modest in appearance and do not believe in women wearing trousers. However, for the most part, I believe they do it volunteerily, although male dominance is a large part of their value system so I am not sure in all cases.

I admire the courage of the women in the Middle East for  standing up to the outrageousness of their treatment. Until women all over this world support each other, stand up, and speak out, this treatment will continue. It is not a matter of “who wears the pants” in the family. Of course that refers to an entirely different topic for discussion.

Hopefully, good night. What there is left of it.

Attic Annie

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Women and Trousers

  1. Shirley Haight

    Loved this article, love courageous women willing to go against the grain of a society that would like our clothing to be bondage.

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