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The History of Bicycles and The Female Sex

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The History of Bicycles and The Female Sex

Old 10-28-18, 05:18 PM
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JonBailey
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The History of Bicycles and The Female Sex

Looking at old vintage Schwinn catalogs and ad literature, the implication was that bikes were once dominated by men and boys because whenever Schwinn introduced a new model for women or girls, it was like it was the invention of sliced bread for the first time. They would advertise a new model for girls as having the same advanced features as the boys models like headlights and horns for example. Don't females need lights at night so see? Oh, but girls are not supposed to ride at night, right? They might get raped in the dark.

In the 1970s when ten-speeds were all the rage of the pedalling world, Schwinn ten-speeds for ladies, like the Varsity, were a super big deal in marketing as if such sleek sporting bikes were once for males only. It wasn't just the cute pink Hollywood with a dainty basket for girls anymore.

Schwinn also used to advertise bikes for newsboys and errand boys a lot and boasted special heavy-duty models for that purpose. The implication was that no female-specific occupation ever employed bicycles. Meter maids rode on those three-wheeled motorized white things by Cushman. The image of paperboys tossing papers on American residential streets and errand boys for Western Union in olden times probably more closely allied bikes with boys at one time than it did for girls. Bicycles weren't needed for being a baby-sitter or a milk maid.
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Old 10-28-18, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Looking at old vintage Schwinn catalogs and ad literature, the implication was that bikes were once dominated by men and boys because whenever Schwinn introduced a new model for women or girls, it was like it was the invention of sliced bread for the first time. They would advertise a new model for girls as having the same advanced features as the boys models like headlights and horns for example. Don't females need lights at night so see? Oh, but girls are not supposed to ride at night, right? They might get raped in the dark.

In the 1970s when ten-speeds were all the rage of the pedalling world, Schwinn ten-speeds for ladies, like the Varsity, were a super big deal in marketing as if such sleek sporting bikes were once for males only. It wasn't just the cute pink Hollywood with a dainty basket for girls anymore.

Schwinn also used to advertise bikes for newsboys and errand boys a lot and boasted special heavy-duty models for that purpose. The implication was that no female-specific occupation ever employed bicycles. Meter maids rode on those three-wheeled motorized white things by Cushman. The image of paperboys tossing papers on American residential streets and errand boys for Western Union in olden times probably more closely allied bikes with boys at one time than it did for girls. Bicycles weren't needed for being a baby-sitter or a milk maid.
we live in a ridiculous world.
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Old 10-28-18, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Looking at old vintage Schwinn catalogs and ad literature, the implication was that bikes were once dominated by men and boys because whenever Schwinn introduced a new model for women or girls, it was like it was the invention of sliced bread for the first time. They would advertise a new model for girls as having the same advanced features as the boys models like headlights and horns for example. Don't females need lights at night so see? Oh, but girls are not supposed to ride at night, right? They might get raped in the dark.

In the 1970s when ten-speeds were all the rage of the pedalling world, Schwinn ten-speeds for ladies, like the Varsity, were a super big deal in marketing as if such sleek sporting bikes were once for males only. It wasn't just the cute pink Hollywood with a dainty basket for girls anymore.

Schwinn also used to advertise bikes for newsboys and errand boys a lot and boasted special heavy-duty models for that purpose. The implication was that no female-specific occupation ever employed bicycles. Meter maids rode on those three-wheeled motorized white things by Cushman. The image of paperboys tossing papers on American residential streets and errand boys for Western Union in olden times probably more closely allied bikes with boys at one time than it did for girls. Bicycles weren't needed for being a baby-sitter or a milk maid.
Fascinating piece of social analysis. Don't quit your day job.
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Old 10-28-18, 06:11 PM
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Olde tyhme Schwinn ads, in general, are just "different".
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Old 10-28-18, 07:32 PM
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What is your point?
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Old 10-28-18, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by i-like-to-bike View Post
what is your point?
+1
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Old 10-28-18, 08:56 PM
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The bicycle was a great instrument of liberation for women back in the late 19th century.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technolo...rights/373535/
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Old 10-28-18, 10:24 PM
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A woman on a bicycle are the most vicious thing I've ever seen especially after seeing the Wizard of Oz.
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Old 10-28-18, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
What is your point?
Do I need one?

How often have you seen a product originally for women and girls that manufactures have tried to appeal to men and boys by changing somewhat?

Have you ever seen a Singer sewing machine in a camo paint job? How about curling irons for man-perms in macho colors like olive drab or earth brown?
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Old 10-28-18, 10:36 PM
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Gender targeted marketing is as old as advertising itself. Anyone surprised by this should come out of the cave and into the sunshine.
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Old 10-28-18, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by badger1 View Post
fascinating piece of social analysis. Don't quit your day job.
+1
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Old 10-28-18, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Do I need one?

How often have you seen a product originally for women and girls that manufactures have tried to appeal to men and boys by changing somewhat?

Have you ever seen a Singer sewing machine in a camo paint job? How about curling irons for man-perms in macho colors like olive drab or earth brown?
Why is camo, olive drab or earth brown a "man's" colour pallete?


And incidentally, back in the day when I used curling irons, they were black and chrome. Who's colour pallette is that?
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Old 10-28-18, 11:16 PM
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It's a bit of history!
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Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.
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Old 10-28-18, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Have you ever seen a Singer sewing machine in a camo paint job? How about curling irons for man-perms in macho colors like olive drab or earth brown?
As a matter of fact...



How about all those macho Schwinn pics from the 80's -
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Old 10-28-18, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Do I need one?

How often have you seen a product originally for women and girls that manufactures have tried to appeal to men and boys by changing somewhat?

Have you ever seen a Singer sewing machine in a camo paint job? How about curling irons for man-perms in macho colors like olive drab or earth brown?
I remember when hand held hair dryers were first marketed toward men. One of the brand names was Sampson. Yeah, Sampson used a hair dryer. Right.
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Old 10-28-18, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Do I need one?

How often have you seen a product originally for women and girls that manufactures have tried to appeal to men and boys by changing somewhat?
Action figures.
Dove soap and body wash.
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Old 10-28-18, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Wilmingtech View Post
Now THAT makes me proud to be an American. I wonder if they have a tactical model?
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Old 10-29-18, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
How often have you seen a product originally for women and girls that manufactures have tried to appeal to men and boys by changing somewhat?
Some mens shorts are so long that they are really capris.
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Old 10-29-18, 12:32 AM
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The 1890s -- the midpoint of La Belle Époque -- was a golden age of advertising toward women. Savvy manufacturers and retailers marketed to women on their own terms, without condescension or reference to their position as adjuncts to male counterparts.

Kodak was the leader of that remarkable era of marketing. Check out this article and these reproductions of ads featuring the Kodak Girl.

The typewriter was notable in liberating women from homebound prospects for marriage or lifetimes of family servitude as spinsters. The influence of the typewriter in creating the notion of the independent woman has been described and depicted in pop culture as early as Bram Stoker's character Mina Harker in "Dracula," the excellent dramatized historical novel "The Devil in the White City," and many others. There's an ironic coincidence in juxtaposing the rise of the woman as professional assistant against the namesake character in "Bartleby, the Scrivener," who would prefer not to.

As previous discussions in these and other cycling forums have noted, the bicycle was also instrumental in transitioning women to greater independence.

All part of La Belle Époque. Arguably it's been a backward and downward slide for women since then.

After WWII women who'd earned their places as equals (as if they actually had to *earn* it to begin with, a flawed notion) were suddenly shoved backward by advertisers who began a massive campaign of condescending and belittling advertising that characterized women as intellectually inferior playthings. Even as a little kid I found those ads more preposterous than infuriating. Growing up in a family of strong women, those ads depicted some fictitious alien creatures who resembled nothing I recognized.
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Old 10-29-18, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Do I need one?

How often have you seen a product originally for women and girls that manufactures have tried to appeal to men and boys by changing somewhat?

Have you ever seen a Singer sewing machine in a camo paint job? How about curling irons for man-perms in macho colors like olive drab or earth brown?
Ever wonder why the top of the Marlboro cigarette package is red? Now there's a story of gendered marketing that will make your head spin.
Don't tell anyone, but a messenger bag is really a purse.
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Old 10-29-18, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
In the 1970s when ten-speeds were all the rage of the pedalling world, Schwinn ten-speeds for ladies, like the Varsity, were a super big deal in marketing as if such sleek sporting bikes were once for males only. It wasn't just the cute pink Hollywood with a dainty basket for girls anymore.
While I'm sure that some females rode the model, the Varsity was not marketed to ladies, as evidenced by the horizontal top tube...And as evidenced by all the boys in my neighborhood who rode them.
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Old 10-29-18, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post

And incidentally, back in the day when I used curling irons, they were black and chrome. Who's colour pallette is that?
This got me thinking about my sisters curling irons back in the day. Same thing. Black and chrome.
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Old 10-29-18, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
While I'm sure that some females rode the model, the Varsity was not marketed to ladies, as evidenced by the horizontal top tube...And as evidenced by all the boys in my neighborhood who rode them.
There was a Varsity female frame variant model for ladies introduced by Schwinn Bicycle Co. at one time or another. Please consult various 1970's Schwinn catalogs. I think in the 1970's. There may never have been been as nearly as common or popular as the male frame bikes. Paramount, Continental and LeTour had a ladies variant as well.

In the 1970's, just about every men's Schwinn model had a woman's counterpart.
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Old 10-29-18, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
While I'm sure that some females rode the model, the Varsity was not marketed to ladies, as evidenced by the horizontal top tube...And as evidenced by all the boys in my neighborhood who rode them.
Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
There was a Varsity female frame variant model for ladies introduced by Schwinn Bicycle Co. at one time or another. Please consult various 1970's Schwinn catalogs. I think in the 1970's. There may never have been been as nearly as common or popular as the male frame bikes. Paramount, Continental and LeTour had a ladies variant as well.

In the 1970's, just about every men's Schwinn model had a woman's counterpart.
You know, that did jog my memory. You're right about those Varsity bikes with the sloping downtubes.
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Old 10-29-18, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by JonBailey View Post
Looking at old vintage Schwinn catalogs and ad literature, the implication was that bikes were once dominated by men and boys because whenever Schwinn introduced a new model for women or girls, it was like it was the invention of sliced bread for the first time. They would advertise a new model for girls as having the same advanced features as the boys models like headlights and horns for example. Don't females need lights at night so see? Oh, but girls are not supposed to ride at night, right? They might get raped in the dark.

In the 1970s when ten-speeds were all the rage of the pedalling world, Schwinn ten-speeds for ladies, like the Varsity, were a super big deal in marketing as if such sleek sporting bikes were once for males only. It wasn't just the cute pink Hollywood with a dainty basket for girls anymore.

Schwinn also used to advertise bikes for newsboys and errand boys a lot and boasted special heavy-duty models for that purpose. The implication was that no female-specific occupation ever employed bicycles. Meter maids rode on those three-wheeled motorized white things by Cushman. The image of paperboys tossing papers on American residential streets and errand boys for Western Union in olden times probably more closely allied bikes with boys at one time than it did for girls. Bicycles weren't needed for being a baby-sitter or a milk maid.
So much silly here. Building lights and horns into a bike was always a marketing gimmick they did for the top of the cruiser lines to differentiate the highest end model from the somewhat lighter and probably better handling next bike down in the line. Those of us who remember those bikes also know that the gimmicks were the only thing on the bike that would ever likely break. The girls and boys version looked very much the same--if you really wanted to differentiate the bikes being marketed, look at the names and the paint jobs.

The 1960s were probably the absolute nadir of adult riding in the U.S., so the drop bar bike was a niche product in a small market, no surprise that Schwinn didn't put in the investment to produce both men's and women's versions of the bike (the Varsity Sport) throughout that decade. They did market both men's and women's versions of the upright position ten speed Varsity Tourist throughout from 1963 on, and that was hardly a cute pink basket bike . The 1960s was also something of a nadir for women's athletics, followed by an unprecedented boom in the 1970s, so it doesn't seem very surprising that Schwinn ad copy would read as if they were trying to get adult women excited about their "sporty" bikes for the first time. It actually reflects social progress rather than being some kind of patronizing assumption that sport bikes weren't for women before. The reality is that prior to the 1970s, athletically-minded women really were treated as freaks.
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