|Mary Stuart, |
Queen of Scots
There were always the exceptions. Women in ancient Greece were not allowed in the Olympics, so they held their own Games of Hera every four years. Mary, Queen of Scots was an avid golfer, and called her assistants “cadets”. The first caddies. During her reign (1542-67), the famous golf course of St. Andrews was built. Women in Regency times walked—Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice enjoyed a good, hardy stroll. There have been a few boxers, fisher-women, horse racers, runners, hot-air balloonists, and archers.
|May in "Age of Innocence"|
The bicycle changed everything—though not because it was a way to get exercise or that it was considered a sport, but that it finally allowed women autonomy. They could move quickly from Point A to Point B by themselves. And they didn’t need a man to come along as a chaperone. I think about the feeling of freedom a woman would have felt the first time she rode a bicycle. The breeze through her hair, the exhilaration of using her limbs until they burned… And the choice involved to go somewhere. Even that. Especially that. Choice.
During this time many sports became womanized: rowing, hiking, fencing, lawn tennis, tennis, croquet, sailing, and swimming. The summer resort of Newport, Rhode Island, encouraged all these activities. I have some of my characters deal with bicycling, swimming, and sailing in An Unlikely Suitor. Even baseball was played by women: According to this wonderful timeline site, in 1875 two women’s teams, the "Blondes" and "Brunettes", played their first match. “Newspapers heralded the event as the 'first game of baseball ever played in public for gate money between feminine ball-tossers.'"
|Boulder Field of Long's Peak|
Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it! And as with most acts of freedom, I appreciate having the choice.//Nancy