Avoiding Turn of the
Century Bustle Pinchers
by Deeanne Gist
Author of Tiffany Girl
If you think being a woman today is tough, let’s take a step back to 1893 when women were just breaking into the workforce. If you read Eliza’s review of my new book, Tiffany Girl, you already know about my smart, artistic protagonist, Flossie Jayne, one of the “New Women” behind Louis Comfort Tiffany’s famous glasswork.
Flossie is based on a compilation of real women who shattered the mold for females at the turn of the century. Naive but driven, she defied her mother, her father and society by getting a man’s job in a man’s world and moving—without chaperone—into a boardinghouse. And there were consequences to be paid for this effrontery.
Loneliness. Uncertainty. Vulnerability, to name a few. Their lot was particularly challenging when they had to take the streetcars during rush hours. Stuffed into a crowded space with little wiggle room, men—or “bustle pinchers” as they were called—brushed up close to the girls, then pushed, taunted and touched them inappropriately. I’d ask if you could even imagine such a thing, but any young woman today who’s ridden a very crowded subway might very well be able to imagine it only too well.
And while Flossie had thick skin, she wasn’t immune. As I was writing a scene which included bustle pinchers, I found my mama-bear claws coming out. Just thinking about the gall of those men really fired my blood, especially knowing there really was such a thing. I found myself wishing I could jump into the book and give Flossie advice on how to handle them. I’d have said things like:
Head to work early. As if she didn’t work hard enough, right? But, maybe if she could head out to work earlier than normal, she might just be able to snag a seat on the streetcar.
Take your bike. If the weather permitted (honestly, even if it didn’t), riding her bike to work would mean she wouldn’t have to get on the streetcar at all and she’d avoid those nasty, groping, smelly men! She’d have to be careful though. Women out on the street after dark were assumed to be promiscuous.
Wear heavy clothing. Layer up! The men might pinch, but all they’ll get is a little extra fabric. Serves them right!
What I’d really want to say is … stare, slap, scold and knee! Practically speaking, the streetcar would have been too packed for her to whack a man with her purse, but if the opportunity presented itself to Flossie, I would have said: Go for it, girl!
So what about our modern equivalent to bustle pinchers? How would/do you avoid them?
Here are few pics of Deeanne in a beautiful gown--complete with a bustle!
Deeanne Gist has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her original, fun historicals. She has garnered four RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base.
With three-quarters of a million trade books sold, Deeanne has been presented the National Readers’ Choice, Book Buyers’ Best, Golden Quill, Books*A*Million Pick of the Month, Romantic Times Pick of the Month, Award of Excellence, and Laurel Wreath awards
Deeanne has a very active online community on her blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and her YouTube channel.
Deeanne lives in Texas with her husband of thirty-one years and their border collie. They have four grown children.
Deeanne loves to hear from readers, blogs frequently on www.DeeanneGist.com and enjoys posting and reaching out to readers on her Facebook page,
Link to Dee’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/deesfriends
About the book:
As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.
But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the New York School of Applied Design. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”
Tiffany Girl is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to be an independent "New Woman" when most of the fair sex stayed home, she quickly finds the world less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world. As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?