It is unfortunate that young American women of today so often do not know just how high the price was that was paid by those generations of women who came before them. Things that we take for granted…wearing jeans, cutting our hair, and, of course, the swimsuit have not always been the norm in this country, and we often forget that.
Today, the subject for our reflection is Mollie Moore Godbold’s shocking behavior. Her sin? Riding astride her horse instead of riding sidesaddle as all decent women were told they must do.
Our thank you goes out to Ruth Adelle Waggoner who has allowed us to reprint the memories of her long ago family. Although Mrs. Godbold’s story happened in the town of Comanche, Texas, the same thing was happening and shocking the rest of the country as the women of that day did their part to break free from what they considered the fetters of society.
Shortly after we returned to Comanche I became a “briar breaker,” as the early settlers were called. The settlers broke trail for the people who would come after them. I broke the way for the women and girls of Comanche County to ride astride.
The main part of the costume in which I did my briar-breaking was a floor-length divided skirt of heavy, brown corduroy. When I was in the sadddle, the skirt was held down by elastic bands which slipped under my feet. It was the most modest of garments, one in which I could have ridden against a sixty-mile-an-hour wind without showing an inch of my ankles.
Yet, by sitting on my horse in a manner different from that to which my fellow townsmen were accustomed, I created a greater sensation than Lady Godiva wuld create today if she rode down the streets of New York “bare-nekkid.” [Ms. Godbold had no idea how soon this would actually happen, did she?]
“Mama! Mama! Come here quick!” children would shout when they caught sight of me. Mama would run to a window and the children would climb on the fence. Both would stare at me goggle-eyed—and often with disapproval—as I rode by.
Whether or not a woman should ride astride became a no less burning issue than “to bob or not to bob” a few years later when short hair first came into style and husbands were losing their tempers–and some even threatening divorce—because their wives were having their locks bobbed. -MMG
Yes, all of us need to stop occassionally and remember that the things we take for granted today have not always been….and still do not exist in some countries.