The invention of the railway system has definitely revolutionized how the trade and travel industry worked. But did you know back when trains were new in the United States, people believed that women should not be let on them?
Critics of the first steam engine thought that women’s bodies were not designed to go on an accelerated speed. Their speculation was that their uteruses would fly out of their bodies when travelling at 50 miles an hour.
Why Were People Afraid of Vehicles?
Early in the 20th century, any engine-powered vehicle was seen as evil. In those days, not too many people understood the concept of basic physics – speed and acceleration. To them, all automobiles were too loud. (Source: Simple Most)
Since traffic rules and proper driving education did not exist, driving cars became an extreme sport of some sort. People thought, fragile and frail women should not drive or even be on such vehicles. (Source: Simple Most)
Why Did People Think Your Organs Would Fly Out?
In 1898, Dr. Gerson, a doctor from Berlin wrote: “Violent movements of the body can cause a shift in the position and a loosening of the uterus as well as prolapse and bleeding, with resulting sterility, thus defeating a woman’s true purpose in life, i.e., the bringing forth of strong children.” This was written on the German Journal of Physical Education. (Source: Outside Online)
There have been other sources before this myth was published. In the late 1800s, Kathleen E. McCrone wrote in her book Playing the Game: Sport and Physical Emancipation of English Women that a woman’s reproductive organs controlled her entire life – her mood, her disposition, and even her intellect. (Source: Outside Online)
McCrones says “On the basis of no scientific evidence whatsoever, women who displayed symptoms of aggression, ambition and competitiveness were incompletely developed and prone to disease.” Basically saying that a woman who actively engaged in sports would be sterile or transmit her defects onto her children. (Source: Outside Online)
All these so-called studies were just speculations and not really something they have experimented on. Spoiler alert: you do not lose your uterus when you ride a train. (Source: Mental Floss)
This wasn’t the only thing that scared them, there was even a time when they thought using a phone would cause possession and electrocution in women.
Their feeling of fear may be irrational, but due to the lack of knowledge, these feelings should not be invalidated.
What Did They Truly Fear?
The flying out of internal organs while on a train is definitely a far-fetched thought. Genevieve Bell, a cultural anthropologist explained how these irrational fears started.
The fear of riding trains and other automobiles basically stem from the fear of innovation, especially when it affects the relationship of man with time and space. (Source: Simple Most)
Fear of technology is very real, even today with all our technological advancements. A study conducted in 2015 showed that there is a strong fear of an economic collapse. Among other fears were cyberterrorism and government tracking. All of which are related with innovation. (Source: Simple Most)