This is the official blog of The Freedom Seat Seminars (thefreedomseatseminars.com).
From the beginning of history until the late 1960s and early 1970s, the roles of men and women in the Western World were sharply defined. Men were the breadwinners. Women were the homemakers. Woe betide a woman who didn't want children and wanted to earn her own living. (It was all very well for a woman to work before she got married. But once she did get married - and it was her role in life to get married, she was expected to quit her job and begin having children.)
While the job of caring for a home and caring for and raising children is an extremely important one, the fact that women didn't work outside the home caused there to be a belief that they shouldn't work outside the home.
In the earliest days of automobiles - back when you had to stick a crank in the starter and use a bit of strength to start the car - women were told they were too weak to ever be able to do that, and if they could get a car started,well, they just didn't have the cool "nerves of steel" or intelligence that it would take to drive the thing.
While it's certainly true that the earliest cars broke down more often than they ran, and a driver needed to have some mechanical knowledge to repair his car every hundred miles or so - once the automobile was "perfected" and would stop breaking down at the drop of a hat, women were still told that they couldn't drive because of that lack of intelligence and hand-feet coordination needed to drive a stick-shift.
The same thing happened when the rickety airplane became reliable enough to fly by the "average person." Women wanted to fly too, but in every country they faced resistance -women didn't have the hand-feet coordination needed (a necessity in those early "crates"), they didn't have the nerve to fly hundreds of feet in the air, and so on.
And even when the Early Birds (Raymonde de Laroche, Harriet Quimby, etc.) proved that women did have what it took to fly, the naysayers persisted - not the least because many of these women did die in plane crashes. That was the nature of aviation during its early years. But when a man died - well, it might have been pilot error or it might have been mechanical failure, but no one said men in general were too stupid to fly. But when a woman died, that just proved that all women were incompetent and shouldn't be allowed up into the air.
But the left seat of a car (or the right seat, if you were in Europe!), and the left seat or captain's seat of an aircraft, were the "freedom seats." A woman who could drive or fly could go where she wanted to go, whenever she wanted to go there. It was independence. It was freedom.
The Freedom Seat is devoted to the history of adventurous women - pilots (of speed boats as well as planes!), drivers, and explorers.