Women and pants: a struggle for gender equality

Although today trousers are an extremely popular item of clothing in the women’s wardrobe, for many centuries, it was considered scandalous to wear them. Let’s retrace the story of how women, after many struggles and courage fights, were able to freely wear this garment.

The birth of trousers

The first forms of trousers date back to about two thousand years ago, thanks to the nomads of the Eurasian steppes who – living most of their life on horseback – needed sturdy leggings, worn by both men and women.

In the Western world, however, for reasons that are not very clear, the use of trousers by women was seen as an intolerable attempt to appropriate not only a way of dressing, but also exquisitely masculine prerogatives and privileges. Women, if not some rare cases (such as Giovanna d’Arco, proud wearer of trousers), wore only skirts until the nineteenth century.

The first changes with the women’s emancipation movements

The nineteenth century was a period of great revolutions, which also included the female sphere. Equality between the sexes was one of the claims that began to make its way into the European panorama of the time. From the point of view of clothing, sexual equality manifested itself in the freedom of women to wear trousers.

The first movements for women’s emancipation took place in America in the first two decades of the nineteenth century: the meeting of some writers and activists for women’s rights, including Amalia Bloomer (the pioneer of new women’s fashion), raised the problem of the inconvenience of traditional women’s clothing.

Changing clothing style was a form of great emancipation: not only from inconvenience, but to common morality.

In her magazine “The Lily”, Amalia proposed new women’s clothing, much more comfortable and emancipated. Among these were also the Bloomers, wide pants on the thigh that tightened at the ankle, half covered by a tunic.

Exported to Europe, the Bloomers struggled to establish themselves because the brave ones who dared to wear them were the target of insults on the street.

Photo credits: www.lundici.it

Twentieth century: the great turning point

Finally, in the twentieth century, women were finally able to wear trousers. Initially, this choice was dictated by necessity and certainly not by a recognized equality: with the two world war conflicts in fact, while the men were at the front, the women had to replace them at work. Women, who began to play a very important role in society, had the courage to impose their claim.

The spread of trousers on a large scale thanks to jeans

From the 1960s onwards, thanks to the enormous success of jeans – the uniform of the hippy movement – the use of women’s trousers slowly began to be considered normal, eventually becoming one of the most popular items of clothing in the women’s wardrobe.

donne e pantaloni

Photo credits: www.rifo-lab.com

 

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