because the woman's place is wherever the woman is...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Adeline & Augusta Van Buren

Adeline and Augusta Van Buren were "society girls" in the early 1900's, but they were also most assuredly in-your-face women. The U.S. was gearing up for World War I and women were still being pushed to the side. They weren't allowed to fight. They weren't allowed to vote. They weren't even allowed to wear pants.

But the Van Buren sisters decided it was time to make a statement about how ridiculous all that was. So they put on military-style leggings and leather riding breeches, climbed on a pair of 1000 cc Indian Power Plus motorcycles in Brooklyn, New York, and set out across country to prove that women could carry military dispatches in a war zone, freeing up men to do other tasks.

Sixty days and 5,500 miles later, Addie and Gussie had proven their point. All it required of them was that they traverse awful roads through heavy rains and mud and the Rocky Mountains. They had to climb Pike's Peak. They had to be saved by a prospector when they ran out of water in the Mojave Desert. They even had to cross the Mexican border at Tijuana to complete their journey. And they did all that without flinching.

In spite of it all, however, not only were the two sisters still not allowed to join the military (or vote), but all along the route, they were repeatedly arrested by local police officers offended that the two were wearing "men's" clothing. The bikes were praised, but not the women. Newspaper articles criticized them at every turn for displaying their "charms" in public and using the military preparedness issue to escape their "appropriate" roles as wives and mothers.

Addie countered by becoming a lawyer and Gussie by becoming a pilot. So much for being ashamed of themselves. In-your-face women are too busy having fun to care if somebody else doesn't want them to.


  1. Has the book been published? Many women in my circles would likely enjoy.

    1. I wish. I thought it was going to be a slam dunk. Any ideas?