Skating—Woman’s Rights,” by William C. Cutter, explores reasons why girls should learn to skate, at a time when ice skating was growing in popularity. Cutter was “Hiram Hatchet,” a beloved editor of Robert Merry’s Museum and fond of puns and wordplay.
“Skating—Woman’s Rights,” by William C. Cutter (from Robert Merry’s Museum, February 1857; p. 33)

Why may not a woman skate?

She can walk, and run, and ride—

In dance, or hop, she’s always great—

Prithee, why not skate and slide?

Skating is a useful art,

Full of dignity and grace;

Exercises limb and heart,

Gives the blood a healthful pace.

Why may not a woman skate?

Swan-like grace and queenly sway

Mark the vigorous, blooming Kate,

Sailing down yon glittering way.

Look! what conscious grace and power,

In those broad, out-sweeping strides,

As down the silver-gleaming floor,

With still increasing speed she glides.

Why may not a woman skate?

Often on the frozen Scheldt,

Buxom Dutch girls, early, late,

For the prize of speed have dealt.

Sometimes, from the inland town

To the city mart, or fair,

They in merry bands glide down,

And their precious burdens bear.

Why may not a woman skate?

To a friend’s, long miles away,

Oft they sail, with heart elate,

To make a call—or pass the day.

Often so do lovers meet,

Whispering, wooing, billing, cooing,

While upon their iron feet,

Miles and miles of talk they’re doing.

Why may not a woman skate?

What though ankles she reveal?

Skaters’ ankles, critics state,

Are not over-much genteel.

What of that!—a trifling charge!

There’s a right for every wrong—

If the ankle’s somewhat large,

May be ’tis well set and strong.

Why may not a woman skate?

Six times we have put the question;

No one rising in debate,

No one offering a suggestion.

Silence gives consent. So, then,

Pretty girls, and woman, too,

No less than rude boys, and men,

May put on the iron shoe.

Try it, girls—ay, try the skate—

Good for service, seldom tired,

Able to sustain its weight,

Never weak, or loosely wired,

The well-tried ankle you will find

In your need-hour, just the one;—

Bind your skates on—never mind!—

You will find it right good fun.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
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