Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

French women can now wear pants

Yes, French women can finally, after 200 years, breathe a sigh of relief. They can finally slide their long legs into a pair of black trousers. Oh wait, they already have.

Okay, so until last week it was actually illegal for a woman to wear a pair of pants in public in Paris. Crazy, right? This was until Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister for women’s rights, tossed this outdated law into the history bin. Clearly an oversight, Parisian women have been wearing trousers for years. For the French, there's nothing like a pair of black pants, right?

The law was first introduced long ago by Paris’s police chief, for fear that women would be mistaken for male revolutionaries. It was, however, amended several times: in 1892, for women wanting to go horse-riding, and in 1909, for female cyclists.

Many people knew about this old law, yet found that changing it was unnecessary. ‘No one really pays attention to it any more,’ people said. ‘It would just be extra admin.’ Well, Vallaud-Belkacem disagreed, saying: ‘This ordinance is incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men.’

By refusing to allow this law to rule their lives, women of course crushed its power. As a matter of principle, though, its abolition is welcome. The fewer gender-unequal laws there are, the better…

Some crazy US laws include:

A man with a moustache may never kiss a woman in public. (Iowa)

Beer and pretzels cannot be served at the same time in any bar or restaurant. (North Dakota)

In New Jersey, it is illegal to slurp soup; and for a man to knit during the fishing season.

A husband is responsible for every criminal act committed by his wife while she is in his presence. (Utah)

Info via here.


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