Women in Paris finally allowed to wear trousers

parisOne year ago yesterday and a long-established chauvinistic law was finally abolished in France – the law that said that women were not allowed to wear trousers on the streets of Paris.  A strange relic of the revolution.  Enjoy my potted history, embelished with a soupcon of poetic licence.

 

 

Liberation

Vive the revolution!
That’s when it all commenced;
when rebels had a notion
to show their difference.
Abandoning their breeches,
pants of the bourgeoisie,
they donned instead their trousers,
garb of the peasantry.
The women said “we’ll join you”.
The men said “no way, Marie.
Women can’t wear trousers
on the streets of gay Paris.”

What a joke that women-folk,
who’d fought for liberty,
could not invoke the rights of blokes
of French fraternity.

And then one day concession.
“Mesdames, you’re right of course.
You shouldn’t have a dress on
when mounted on your horse.”
A second time the law was changed,
as good as it would get,
that women could wear trousers
astride a biciclette.

What a joke that women-folk,
who’d fought for liberty,
can’t still invoke the rights of blokes
of French fraternity.

Now Madame Valland-Balkacem,
in charge of women’s rights
proclaimed that les Parisiennes
have won the long-fought fight.
No longer shall they cower
on the streets of gay Paris
afraid to be arrested
by the French gendarmerie.
The bells of Notre Dame ring out,
the glorious Marseillaise is sung
in the heart of the gallic nation.
The femmes de France dance and shout
for the victory they’ve won,
on their day of Liberation.

No longer now are women cowed
on the streets of gay Paris.
Shout out loud for they’re allowed
to wear their trousers – legally.

____________________________________________________________________________
3rd February 2013 – headline from the Telegraph

Notes:  Women in Paris finally allowed to wear trousers.”  Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister of women’s rights, has made it officially impossible to arrest a woman for wearing trousers in the French capital.  The law required women to ask police for special permission to “dress as men” in Paris, or risk being taken into custody.  In 1892 and 1909 the rule was amended to allow women to wear trousers, “if the woman is holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse.”  The law was kept in place until now, despite repeated attempts to repeal it, in part because officials said the unenforced rule was not a priority, and part of French “legal archaeology.”  The restriction focused on Paris because French Revolutionary rebels in the capital said they wore trousers, as opposed to the knee-breeches, or the “culottes,” of the bourgeoisie, in what was coined the “sans-culottes” movement. Women rebels in the movement demanded the right to wear trousers as well, but were forbidden to do so.

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