The Two-Way
5:36 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Parisian Women Now (Officially) Allowed To Wear Pants

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 6:09 pm

Parisian women have finally caught up with the 21st century (and the end of the 20th century for that matter): They can now wear pants!

January 31, the 213-year-old ban was officially lifted.

"The repeal of the law... was made by France's Minister for Women's Rights, Ms. Vallaud-Belkacem," Digital Journal reports.

The order had been in place since 1800, following the French Revolution. Women joined the workforces and demanded to wear pants as a part of a movement for equal rights. The law required that women ask the permission of local authorities to dress like a man.

"Banning women from trouser-wearing was thus an effective way of banning them from the rank and file of the revolution — and of keeping them, basically, in their place," The Atlantic writes.

There were some exceptions and eventually amendments made in 1892 and 1909, so women could ride bicycles or horses in comfort (and style).

In 1946, the order remained even after women were declared equal to men in the French Constitution. As time went on, more women wore pants, the law went by the wayside and the Parisian female population continued to be law-breaking rebels through the 20th century.

Then in 2010, a few Green Party lawmakers had a run at it and introduced a bill in the National Assembly to end it once and for all. But the Paris Prefecture said the law was already irrelevant to the times and that it wasn't worth formally removing.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France's minister of women's rights, had enough in 2012. She said in a statement that the ban was "incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men that are written into the Constitution and in France's European commitments."

Finally the government listened and formally ended the ban. Parisian women continued to wear pants as they've been doing for the past few decades.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There's a place in France where women can finally wear pants: Paris.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Yes, in the fashion capital of the world, a two century-old law had banned women from wearing trousers. It was passed soon after the French Revolution when what sort of pants you wore could be a political statement. Wealthier people wore knee-length pants: culottes. The working man wore long pants. But for the women, no trousers allowed.

SIEGEL: Over the years, the rule was eased somewhat. Women were allowed to wear pantalons while riding une bicyclette, a bicycle, or un cheval, a horse. And as you can imagine, the rule was not strictly enforced.

CORNISH: Nonetheless, the anti-pants regulation has been a thorn in the inseam of women's rights activists for years. That's all over now. The French minister for women's rights has declared the ordinance incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men.

SIEGEL: And with that, la revolution is finally complete. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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