This intriguing quote in a book review caught my eye this week as our tandem trip was winding down and we were relaxing on the ferry…
“I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world, it gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
–Susan B. Anthony, 1896
My first thought, after chuckling at the notion of riding a bicycle being a display of ‘untrammeled womanhood’, was how sad Ms. Anthony never found a strong and trustworthy captain to take her touring on a tandem! There are far greater things than having to rely on oneself. Is the self-reliance she touts really freedom?
And my goodness, how naïve. Did she really believe one could come to no harm on a bike? Just this evening on our first ride since getting home from 300 miles of accident-free riding, we were very nearly wiped out by a little red sports car that lost control while passing us on the steep switchback hill we ride so very often to get ourselves home to Wildwood. He squealed his tires and fish-tailed dramatically as he careened onward and upward past us, veering into oncoming traffic momentarily before disappearing around the bend, leaving us (me at least) breathing hard for more than just the incline! And spontaneously uttering thanks to God for His protection. Our lives are not in our own hands. Self-reliance is no guarantee of anything. I would far rather rely on Someone bigger and stronger than I, and trust that our times are very truly in His hands!
Committing my life to the One who knows me best and loves me most is my idea of untrammelled womanhood. And just in case you, like me, are not quite clear on the meaning of that very cool word, untrammelled. It means: Not deprived of freedom of action or expression; not restricted or hampered. We were designed for freedom, but what Ms. Anthony failed to recognize is that true freedom comes by submitting to design. We were designed to bow to Jesus’ Lordship. His commands reflect the principles that will free us to really live. In Him, forgiven and accepted by the Father, we are truly set free—from fear of death, from bondage to sin and from the dictates of our selfish misguided notions and impulses which inevitably lead us where we did not intend to go.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Pr.16:25
By faith we are freed to trust that God’s designs for us are always good, that in submission to a mate we are truly free, and that riding tandem in this world with Jesus in the captain’s seat is the only way we will be genuinely liberated from all that can harm us to be all that we were meant to be! This is true emancipation. This is ‘untrammelled womanhood’ at its best. For this, I will pedal bravely on, the wind in my face, glad not to be relying on me!
‘…and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the LORD.’ Jer.31:14
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery….For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Gal.5:1,6
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Gal.5:13