Monday, 9 July 2012
the women's library
· The current exhibition looks at the gender politics of cycling in Edwardian and Victorian Britain, a mode of transport that was considered masculine, unsafe and uncivilised for a woman.
· The cycle became a symbol of the New Woman, but was also used as a negative symbol against the women’s movement.
· The exhibition raises questions about class, “rational dress”, how the bicycle supported the suffrage movement, ie: how it was used in parades, cycling scouts canvassing and handing out leaflets, and its use in pilgrimages and marches.
· The research carried out for the exhibition unearthed material that was previously unknown about, such as a radical book about women cyclists, which championed healthy lifestyles and showed women how to fix bikes.
· The bicycle was also seen by some to represent a more militant wave of the suffragette movement, following activist activities it was used to get away at high speed, some women were accused of making bombs with bicycle parts, complaints were made about tyre tracks on golf greens etc.
· This is the first time this subject has been looked at in any detail, and it has provided new perspectives to parts of the collections and has prompted the rewrite of some catalogue entries.
· The outcomes have included talks and the exhibition has enhanced knowledge of the collection. It has also attracted new audiences, including lots of cyclist groups, who discuss how cycling is still a gendered issue. Only 29% of cyclists in London are women, and the death rate from accidents is highly disproportionate.
· More about the exhibition here. I visited it briefly the other day, and it’s really illuminating and worth a visit.
Sporting Sisters: stories of Muslim women in sport
· Tracey Weller Learning Coordinator, whom I had already had the pleasure of meeting to interview for my dissertation, told us about some of the outreach they did at the Women’s Library, specifically about the Muslim women in sport project.