Before the bicycle, women were prisoners in their own homes and bodies, their indenties were tied to the domestic realm. Anxieties about the bicycle arose out of tensions of the changing roles of women. Much of the cultural comment focused on the New Woman and the bicycle. In the era of technological modernity from 1890-1900, New Women seized the opportunity to ascribe individuality to a mass produced object such as the bicycle in order to spread the idea of freedom for women to the masses. The New Women’s belief in gender equality, independence and increased mobility out of the home had a major effect on women’s self-concept. The identity of the New Woman was a driver of materialism which helped women become participants in the public sphere. Men feared the swift away from traditional gender roles would have a negative impact on marriages, society and culture. At the core of men’s fear was the bicycle was giving women more of a right to choose how to think, behave, and make their own choices about their bodies.
How to Cite:
Lopez, A. L., (2020) “Winds of Change: New Women and the Bicycle around the Turn of the Twentieth Century”, Footnotes: A Journal of History 4, 104-129.