Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Women and Automobiles, The 1920's

For most men, the growth of the automobile industry over the previous few decades had heralded an era of freedom, work opportunities, broadened travel options and, of course, racing.

For women, it meant the glimpsing of all of these things, and the gradual social acceptance of the "fairer sex" behind the wheel of this still-quite dangerous machine. Women were still being patronized, talked down to, and generally treated as second-class citizens.

But there were some, a few at first, then a flood, who began to assert their rights as searchers, and strivers, and not just dreamers, They began to drive, and race, not officially at first, and segregated in the beginning in the "Girl Ghettos" of competitions.
 It was when pilots like Amelia Earhart began racking up accomplishments that even men hadn't accomplished, and women drivers like Kitty Brunell and Gilberte Thirion drove "like men" in the thirties, forties and fifties that things changed. Not entirely, but more towards equality.

Kitty Brunell

Gilberte Thirion

And soon, the occasional, first-person narrative of a woman driving alone, with no destination, wouldn't be the basis for a singularly voyeuristic look at an oddity; it would become so commonplace that a story like it wouldn't be printed anymore than a story would be printed about a woman wearing trousers.

And "Womens Auto Wear" would become more than wraps, stoles and coats, it would encompass a market for sporting gloves and racing sunglasses, helmets and driving shoes.

Here from 1923 is a story about one such pioneer, Laura Breckinridge McClintock, a woman who decided to go On The Road 30 years before Kerouac
Not above using her wiles, and the dunder-headed perception of men who thought women were helpless, she laughs all the way to her destinations, one gas pedal ahead of the "well-meaning" paternal authorities...

Add caption

No comments:

Post a Comment