There are books in the stores about “strange but true laws,” that catalog laws that might have made sense at the time, but just linger in the books, since nobody wants to take the time to repeal them. For instance, in Florida it is illegal for unmarried women to parachute on Sundays. One such law has been chaffing women in Paris: a 200 year law forbidding women to wear pants, that has now been finally repealed.
The law goes back to the French Revolution when rebels wore pants as a fashion statement about their cause. Women wanted to do so as well but were forbidden.
Since then, the law has been amended twice, so that women can wear trousers “if the woman is holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse.” Otherwise, she would require special permission form the police to “dress as men.”
Nobody enforces the law, but though a few have tried to repeal it, the officials felt it was not priority. But in July, Alain Houpert, a senator and member of the conservative UMP party made it her goal to eliminate the law. She said the “symbolic importance” of the law “could injure our modern sensibilities.”
This lead Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France’s minister of women’s rights, to officially abolish the law on January 31, saying “This ordinance is incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men, which are listed in the Constitution, and in France’s European commitments.
“From that incompatibility follows the implicit abrogation of the ordinance.”