Friday, January 30, 2009

The slow-motion pedestrians of the bargain-hunting sex

Seeing as we're in for another media panic about girls gone wild, the following dispatch from another era--which I just happened to run across while looking for something else here in the newspaper archive--may be of interest.


From an overseas visitor comes a suggestion for dealing with the congestion of London’s footpaths. Having been impressed by the centralisation of trades that has taken place, our visitor considers that only certain classes of pedestrians should be allowed to frequent certain thoroughfares. So he advocates that the western side of Oxford-street should be reserved for “Women only.”

But if certain streets are to be reserved for window-gazers and slow-motion pedestrians of the bargain-hunting sex, mere man should enjoy the exclusive use of thoroughfares not associated with the display of feminine furbelows. In fact, some men, who, when suffering from the inconsiderate behaviour of women in streets and buses, acquire the male mental outlook of countries where the harem is still an institution, would willingly forgo the misery of intruding in Oxford-street if conditions were made more comfortable for them elsewhere.

Women undoubtedly are chiefly to blame for the delays which impede the London pedestrian or bus rider. Observe the manner in which before a bus reaches a stopping place women crowd to the rear platform. Not one will alight until the vehicle comes to a dead stop, and meanwhile mere men, ready to jump off while the bus is in motion, are kept fretting and fuming at the rear. Note, too, the way in which a woman will place herself squarely in the entrance to a Tube station and carry on a lengthy conversation with the ticket-collector.

Women, in fact, despite their vaunted emancipation, remain strangely anti-social. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our streets, where the bland obliviousness of the female of the species to the needs and convenience of others threatens at times to reduce pedestrian traffic to a state of perpetual immobility.

(The Daily Sketch, 9 July 1928, p. 7)

A 'furbelow', in case you're wondering (I was), refers to a ruffle, flounce or small, showy ornamentation.

A rather more risqué association was the first to pop into my head at the phrase 'display of feminine furbelows.'

But this was a more innocent time...

1 comment:

The Wife said...

"Women, in fact, despite their vaunted emancipation, remain strangely anti-social."

I love that line! So true! So familiar!