Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wheels of Change by Sue Macy

In an interesting take on the start of the Women’s movement, Sue Macy’s Wheels of Change  brings a delightful read about how the bicycle evoked positive reform in women’s rights. Using various pictures as well as historical facts and short poetry, readers of this nonfiction novel are made aware of the various ways the bicycle led to women’s liberation.
In terms of social standing, the bicycle gave women more freedom to leave the house and explore the world around them—girls who were once unable to have a date with a lover or a friend due to lack of transportation or the time of day were able to take it upon themselves to take their bike and keep their meeting. Various forms and different inventions/versions of the bicycles also allowed for women to ride bicycles while wearing their dresses and long skirts—some bicycles even hade side saddle pedals so  they could ride wearing so much clothing.
Along with giving women social independence, it also gave them a chance to get exercise they weren’t otherwise getting. Although there were benefits such as these, the bicycle was not readily accepted as a useful tool for women by society—even other women called it a tool for the devil, because it supposedly allowed for pre-marital romance between lovers. Coupled with these facts, it also included quotes from women who were famous in the movement, as well as short poems about what their bicycle meant to them.
With many pictures and facts that included different bicycle slang and several models of the bicycle that were not as favorable, Wheels of Change was a pretty easy and comfortable read. It get’s a little repetitive over time, but the many photos and quotes throughout the book made me keep interest in the content. I never thought that the bicycle had led to social independence as well as other changes for women’s rights, and having read this I feel a little more appreciation for the invention.


BookPaige12 said...

Wow, I had never thought of transportation as a limitation to woman during this era, but it makes sense! I'm guessing the women's husbands wouldn't have driven them to rallies and the like, and of course they would not know how to drive. I appreciate my bicycle a little more now! This is a really interesting view on the women's rights movement and sounds like it could be educational in a classroom.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing what we as women have achieved just by riding "wheels". As you know by reading this book it "wasn’t always easy for women to ride bicycles and it was the evolution of bicycle technology that opened the sport to women and paved the way for women, such as Annie “ Londonderry ” Kopchovsky, to seize the bicycle as a tool of personal and political power." Check out