Woman in a Cage: A Steampunk Feminist’s Perspective of the Victorian Crinoline

Great article about the manifestation of women’s role in society through fashion.

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A modern reconstruction  of a crinoline A modern reconstruction of a crinoline

The basic structure of a crinoline is a cage, so a woman wearing a crinoline is actually trapped inside a cage, unable to run or move about freely. If there was ever a more powerful metaphor to sum up the restrictions of a Victorian woman’s existence, I can’t think of one. As both a writer and a feminist, to me the crinoline sums up worst behavioural excesses of the Victorian era.

Steel-cage crinoline circa 1858. Steel-cage crinoline circa 1858.

Some styles of crinolines even resembled bird cages. What an image … thousands of women walking around inside their cages, unable to accidentally brush up against a fellow human being. struggling through doorways, constantly having to be aware of their surrounding in case they knocked over furniture or small children. I know I’d be on edge. as I am not the mot graceful woman to start with. And oh…

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2 responses to “Woman in a Cage: A Steampunk Feminist’s Perspective of the Victorian Crinoline

  1. amo

    Very interesting. I read one book a while back (and I can’t remember what it was now – might have been “The Happiness Myth”) which made the point that while Victorians put their bodies in cages, now we make the body itself the cage. I.e. they wore corsets and crinolines to make their bodies conform from the outside; now we have diets and plastic surgery which force our bodies to conform from the inside out, as it were. Victorians were restricted from the outside; we restrict ourselves.

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