by A. K. Gardner, M. D.
Women are born slaves. From their very birth they are fettered, and till they are laid in their coffin their limbs are never free. Petticoats float around their forms in airy fetters, which prohibit any free movement, which debars them from running, jumping, ascending hills or stairs, riding, active walking—in fact, of any prolonged movement requiring freedom of limb and unconstrained action. The only species of mankind that can be compared to her is the Turk, who fetters his limbs in almost an equal manner, but otherwise he is free.
Woman, additionally, however, restrains the use of her arms almost as much as her lower extremities. Often she envelops them with a flappy covering, which is constantly in the way, getting into one’s soup-plate, catching on every hook, nail, knot and projection. But if by chance of fashion it be tight and less obnoxious at a dinner party, the sleeve commences so low down upon the arm that it is impossible to elevate the hand even up to the head, far less to be able to reach to turn on the gas, to put a book on a shelf, to open a window, even to arrange a stray lock upon the head, and all hairdressing must be done before the garments are put on, or devolved upon an assistant waiting-maid.
As if this were not sufficient restraint, the fabrics from which her garments are made are of such flimsy material that they can ill suffer the slightest contact with the ordinary objects that surround them—a thorn, a splinter, or a nail brings desolation and incapacity; a drop of rain or a spark of fire are alike fearful, and the care and time necessary to safely pass a splash upon the sidewalk is only less than the difficulty man experiences in getting around the voluminous trains of the lady herself.
It would be useless to inquire “What shall women wear?” if the question had reference to the decrees of fashion, for, besides the fact stated already, that woman so dresses herself that she is rendered incapable of any active employment, she is also so completely under the thralldom of fashion, that it would be useless for me to make any attempt to interfere with or regulate the style of her external apparel.