From the 1860s until the First World War is a time period historians refer to as The Fin De Siecle, which is French for, The End of the Century. Sure, it sounds like a glossed up academic term to describe, a normal change from one century to the next. But, this period was extra special, and I think deserves to be refered to in somewhat glossy terms. In Europe at this time the world changed dramatically. The Second Industrial Revolution was in full swing and this can be seen as the context for revolutions in economic, social, and gender relationships. It is at this time that Socialism, Anarchism, and, unfortuantely, fascism arose. At the same time gender roles were being tested by rebelious young women....ridng bicycles.
The Bicycle, which owes its origin to the Fin De Siecle, was a revolution in transportation. But, it was a man's hobby. Nevertheless, Women took to the wheel, as an act of defiance to Victorian-era social norms.
These "New Women", armed with fresh ideas for the way men and women coexist in society, were lampooned by male-dominated society for riding bicycles.
See, For women in this changing world, the bicycle was a transformative symbol of independence.
And, in the mid 1890's Annie Londonderry, a Jewish immigrant to the USA, became the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world
So, This International Women's Day we salute all the women of the world who are standing up for themselves, for dignity and respect in their communities and workplaces and espeically those who are doing so with the bicycle. Whether it is in the competitative arena, as mechanics and bicycle shop owners, or simply enjoying the ride through commuting and recreation. You are carrying the torch of the original "rebel girls".