Inspired by the first women to wear pants

December 4, 2018 by Joshua
in Leadership, Models

The latest crazy talk people have hit me with is describing not flying and avoiding garbage as “unsustainable” and “impossible.” Many say I’m wasting my time. As best I can tell, they’re excusing themselves for living against their values, but it’s let me to see my behavior in new ways.

Call me crazy, but I believe polluting less is the future, no matter how impossible it seems for people who prefer to delay action by saying they’re building “awareness” or making themselves more “conscious,” as if they need more front-page news to remind them that nature isn’t waiting around for them, nor reacting to their minds. Nature responds to our behavior.

The first women wearing pants

Some woman wore pants for the first time. At the time, the first women to wear pants were the future.

Can you imagine the scorn and ridicule they must have faced? Do you think anybody understood them? Do you think anyone thought anything would come of it?

Last I checked, nearly every woman in the world wears pants sometimes. They were among the most influential people in history. How many people affect billions of people’s behavior? How many people create legacies like that?

Deliberate change

According to Wikipedia, these women did so deliberately, to create freedom, not as an arbitrary fad:

In 1851, early women’s rights advocate Elizabeth Smith Miller introduced Amelia Bloomer to a garment initially known as the “Turkish dress,” which featured a knee-length skirt over Turkish-style pantaloons. Bloomer came to advocate and promote the dress, including instructions for making it, in The Lily, a newspaper dedicated to the “Emancipation of Woman from Intemperance, Injustice, Prejudice, and Bigotry.” This inspired a craze for the dress, which came to be known as bloomers.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone, other early advocates for women’s rights, also adopted this style of dress in the 1850s, referring to it as the “freedom dress”.

Concurrently, some female laborers, notably the pit brow women working at coal pits in the Wigan area, began wearing trousers beneath a short skirt as a practical component of their uniform. This attracted the attention of the public, and various photographers produced records of the women’s unconventional manner of dress through the mid- to late 19th century.

Another woman who advocated publicly for dress reform was Mary Edwards Walker, the abolitionist and Civil War surgeon. Walker, who had worn bloomers while working at a military hospital, wrote in 1871 that women’s dress should “protect the person, and allow freedom of motion and circulation, and not make the wearer a slave to it”. Walker openly wore men’s trousers, and was arrested several times for wearing male attire (her earliest arrest was 1866, in New York, and her final arrest was in 1913, in Chicago, at the age of 80).

Beyond ridicule, here’s the caption for this picture: “Mary Edwards Walker, c. 1870. Walker was arrested several times for dressing in male attire.”Mary Edwards Walker

Arrested!?! Women got arrested wearing pants and people today can’t go for an hour without buying a bottle of water. They have to take a ride share instead of the subway or walking.

I can’t believe people’s sense of entitlement. I mean, I can, but it’s sad to think of what life they could create for themselves. Is comfort and convenience worth sacrificing one’s values and lying to oneself that everyone else is causing the problem and you are powerless to do anything?

Legacies

Look at the freedom these women created. Everyone today has the potential to create a comparable legacy. We live in a world where people pollute too much. We’re over the carrying capacity of the planet and we suffer for it relative to how we could live with a smaller, less wasteful population.

Why learn about Rosa Parks if not to emulate her?

What does it take to stop using disposable products or burn fossil fuels less? It’s not hard. In today’s world you have to choose to do it and act deliberately, but isn’t living deliberately how we want to live? Why doesn’t everyone decide to burn less fossil fuels? Yes, it’s hard, but it takes responsibility.

My legacy

I tell people I’m just like the first women to wear pants. They inspire me. I don’t think it’s crazy to think some day billions will follow.

You can start today.

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