Give It All You’ve Got: A warrior woman believes in self- determination and is willing to challenge gendered expectations.
Each photo I am drawn to takes me on a journey through history, in particular the overlooked stories of women. The history of the Pit Brow Lasses is one such story. This photo shows two young women who are self-assured and proud. The women in the photograph worked alongside men in the Coalfields in Lancashire, UK in the late Victorian Era. Women and young children worked down in the mines from the 1600’s until 1842 when a tragic accident killed 26 children and led to legislation that outlawed women and children from work underground. Rather than feeling protected by the new law, many women felt their livelihood and choice were being taken away. Women then tried to break into the surface jobs, picking rocks out the coal, a job formerly held by injured and older men. It’s likely women were able to secure theses jobs because they were paid half of what men made. Many women had earned reputations as hard workers who were used to the rough language and ways of the mines. These determined and tough women became known as “Pit Brow Lasses” and they developed their own camaraderie and even style of dressing. In all of this, what attracted the most notoriety? It was the fact that these women wore “trousers” under their shortened skirts and aprons, flannel shirts and shawls, headscarves to protect their hair from coal dust, and clogs, all of which were deemed by Victorian standards to be unfeminine and degenerate.