For today’s Women’s History Month posting, we present My Wife Turned Bloomer, a rare fold-out comic strip book by British comic artist Watts Phillips, published likely no earlier than 1850, and definitely no later than 1852. The term “bloomer” refers both to a style of women’s pants, and to the women who wore them, as women wearing pants was a radical political statement, by those women who strove for equal rights with men!
This short little booklet by Phillips, manages to pack in just about every joke on the subject, with Mr. Peregrine Perkes coming home after a few weeks absence, to find the entire household (including the dog!) wearing bloomers, women smoking tobacco in every panel, his wife — under the influence of a militant American Womans Righter — taken over his library/den, women learning martial arts, driving carriages, giving political speeches, and subjugating the men to perform what had been their chores! All of it perfectly horrible to any British (or American) male!
Later this month we’ll see some of these same jokes, still in vogue fifty years later in the 1890s! And, I’ll note, many of them were still being made during the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s! (Example, in the weekly “Sonny & Cher” variety show, whose most popular ongoing sketch involved Sonny as the househusband and Cher as the family wage earner.)
Click on the above & below pictures, to view the cartoons in detail, and read the captions beneath them.