I think you’re going to like this. Fun, irreverence, freedom and a good dose of messing around. This new film looks at some of the clothing that adventurous women invented in an effort to be able to get outdoors under the disapproving gaze of society.
I come from a long line of women who rolled up their sleeves and did things their own way. Aunty Nellie worked and travelled as a Lady’s Maid to Sylvia Brocklebank – who drove coaches and horses in the UK and USA in the early 1900s, when that not the done thing. Aunty Libas, born at the turn of the century, rode her bike well into her 80s, insisting she wouldn’t stop until the hill to church became too much for her. My mum brought me up in a world devoid of make up, frills and high heels, and her sister still pedals solo around Europe on annual bike trips (she won’t thank me if I mention her age). In summary, I’m lucky: I have had many role models to show the way.
As is discussed in this film, not everyone is so lucky. Expectations about what we should do, how we should behave and what we should do with our lives can get in the way of doing the things we want to do, or even think is possible. Even today, societal expectations can constrain our horizons. This film celebrates the ingenuity of the trail blazers of the past, and draws attention to some of the views people had about what women should do or were even physically capable of. Many of those views seem laughable now – although it is not really so long (1967!) since women weren’t allowed to run marathons for fear their uterus would fall out. What views of today about what people can and can’t do might we look back on in the future and wonder ‘what were we thinking?’.
Women on the Move has been funded by the European Research Council as part of the Politics of Patents project led by Dr Kat Jungnickel (Goldsmiths, University of London) and brought to life by The Adventure Syndicate. This energetic film from The Adventure Syndicate showcases the creativity of women from the 1890s-1940s who invented clothing which enabled them to be sporty and active at a time when social norms, and especially their clothing in this case, inhibited them. Along with Aneela McKenna of Mor Diversity we have reimagined the fun these women will have had pushing boundaries, and the palpable energy that comes when women get together in the outdoors.
Kat wrote: Women and girls have always been sporty and active, but they’ve had to work around significant barriers to their freedom of movement. In addition to being hampered by negative social attitudes, even when women carved out ways to participate in sports, they rarely had the appropriate things to wear because they’ve seldom been the focus of sportswear manufacturers. We looked for stories hidden from history, hidden in the archive, and hidden in the garment itself and we were amazed by the results.
We’re delighted to launch this film on International Women’s Day 2023 and make it open access for all to enjoy and spark conversation and debate about the barriers women have faced and still face to being active.
While you’re here…
Try Singletrack digital membership for only 99p for the first month.
Or only £2.99 with a copy of the latest Singletrack magazine, worth £10.