A century ago it was scandalous for a woman to wear pants but today the scandal is surrounding a woman wearing a skirt, or rather what she was doing in the skirt. While biking around New York City last May, Jasmijn Rickman was pulled over by an NYPD officer. Her crime? Wearing a short skirt and “distracting the cars.”
Never mind the fact that unless we’re Tow Mater in the movie Cars, it’s the drivers who would be distracted and not the machines, but have the NYPD ever seen Lady Gaga? If pantsless-ness is a crime, there are certainly more flagrant offenders. And if it’s the distraction that’s the issue, I’ve seen plenty of men in tight bike shorts that are far more, um, eye catching than a girl in a skirt.
Rickman was confused at first and didn’t take the officer seriously until he threatened her with a citation at which point she returned to her hotel and put on pants. This past week her fellow New Yorkers, also confused about how a woman’s clothing choices can be held legally responsible for someone else’s actions, staged a “skirt bike ride” in protest. Lots of beautiful women – and even one dude – showed up in an array of skirts to ride around the city and show their support for a woman’s right to wear whatever she feels comfortable in.
New York City is not alone in the skirts-on-bikes controversy. The Sartorialist recently featured a picture of an Italian woman riding her bike in nothing but a madras button-down shirt and a pair of flip-flops. About half of the commenters on the site wondered where the woman’s pants were. And most of the respondents (as far as I could tell) were other women. While most pointed out the chafing risk, many were also concerned about the flashing risk and more than a few worried about the men “circling her like predators”. (Off topic but slightly irritating were the vast number of comments praising the picture of a “bigger” or “curvy” girl. Just like the last time this blew up on his site, I have to say: this girl is TINY.)
I’m a girl who loves her skirts and dresses. (Side note: I just made the cuuutest high-waisted pencil skirt out of a vintage pillow case!!) I wear them several times a week winter or summer, you know how I love working out in them and I’ve even worn them on bikes (albeit with capris underneath – personally I wouldn’t ride a bike in a shirt/dress that short without something underneath). They’re flattering, comfortable and airy – arguably the perfect biking attire. Seriously, have you seen Zooey Deschanel in 100 Days of Summer? Adorable and not a car wreck in sight.
Do you wear skirts everywhere and anywhere or do you save them for occasions where you can safely keep your knees together? What do you think about Rickman’s skirt? The Italian woman’s shirt/dress?