Motorcycle Diaries of the Travelling Illegal Pants

Posted by Bel. The time is 12:36pm here in Wellington, NZ.

In 1916, sisters Augusta and Adeline Van Buren rode their motorcycles from the east to west coast of America. Frustrated that they were not permitted to be part of the armed forces in the build up to World War I, they used this epic journey (on what would now be considered ramshackle equipment) to demonstrate their willingness and ability to be involved.

It was just the public opinion that they had to work against. They were actually arrested on more than one occasion - because they were wearing "men's clothing", the leathers most suitable for this kind of arduous long journey, on roads that were not yet the super highways now common in the States.

You can read about the Van Buren sisters in more detail here.

This story appeals to me on so many levels. I love their determination and their feminist attitude (wanting both sexes to be treated equally). Their plan to carry out action and achieve change as a result brings to mind other inspirational women such as Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart.

Also, my family are a bunch of motorbike hoons from way back. As a child, my parents often teasingly bemoaned my presence on this earth and how it prevented them from continuing their carefree jaunts on hulking Japanese roadbikes which apparently were a near daily occurrence before the restraints of parenting came along. *rolls eyes*

This is photo of my great uncle, taken in the 1940s. (My mum calls this the 'Che Guevara photo'.)

Conversely he, and his brother, my grandfather, were conscientious objectors, who did hard labour for their pacifist views.

Motorbikes are often a symbol of freedom and rebellion, used iconicly in films such as The Wild One starring Marlon Brando and Easy Rider starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (who also directed. Who knew). For me though, the gloss has worn off - mainly thanks to my cousin who broke his leg in six places coming off his dirt bike. Six places, people. Count it out on your leg. Uggh.

And here endth my rambling vaguely interconnected post. Oh wait - maybe a photo of Brando, just for good measure:

***Addition by Lou***

I love Easy Rider and think Peter Fonda is unspeakably sexy in it, so am adding this piccie:

6 thoughts on “Motorcycle Diaries of the Travelling Illegal Pants”

  1. (not that Marlon would ever preface with "Hey Girl" - he actually wouldn't say a thing, he'd just catch my... I mean "the girl's"... eye and pat the back of his seat)

  2. Thanks for the addition, Lou. I was so wasted when I watched Easy Rider I remember very little of it - except spotting when it was cutting between flats and real background in the same scene and wigging out. Yah.

    I think a point I meant to make yesterday is that despite these groundbreaking sisters with their amazing journey for equality and freedom - there is not yet a film that reflects this.

    The Van Buren sisters made it into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002: isn't it about time Hollywood gave us an iconic film with some inspirational women astride the mighty machines?

  3. In theory: awesome

    In practise: fukken Sienna Miller and Lindsay Lohan on bikes having biker dudes show them how to start their bikes

    Of Nazareth!

  4. (did I mention "wearing skin-tight leather and probably having some scene in which for no apparent reason they kiss each other" ?)