Bike seats, speed, and sexual depravity (#reblog, #bloglove)

I was interviewed last week about the blog for a brand new podcast, produced by Anova, which will focus on gender based violence. The episode will be called, Moving for Me: Reclaiming Fitness and Finding Home in Our Bodies.

One the the first questions they asked was about my favourite topic for blogging and my fave blog post I’d written. Definitely for me it’s the history of women and bikes and the intersection between early feminism and cycling. I love reading about how worried men were about women riding bikes.

Here is a great quote from that era, raising the specter that cycling corrupts women’s innocence.

“Cycling tends to destroy the sweet simplicity of her girlish nature; besides how dreadful it would be if, by some accident, she were to fall into the arms of a strange man” (cited in Hargreaves, 1993)

Thanks Mark Falcous for pointing this one out to me.

I’m hoping we can all share some of our fave posts this month.


I’m a philosopher, a feminist, and a cyclist. And I’m fascinated by the history of women’s cycling and its connection to the early feminist movement.

One of the most striking things in the history of women’s cycling is the terror of female masturbation associated with the shape and position of the bicycle seat. It’s worse than the dreaded bicycle face and worse than the fear that bicycling would make women prone to infidelity and prostitution.

Here’s a passage from  Women on Wheels: The Bicycle and the Women’s Movement of the 1890s  that presents the general problem quite clearly.

“That bike riding might be sexually stimulating for women was also a real concern to many in the 1890s. It was thought that straddling a saddle combined with the motion required to propel a bicycle would lead to arousal. So-called “hygienic” saddles began to appear, saddles with little or no…

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