Defying a 100-Year-Old Law
In November of the year 1800, a law was put into place stating that women in France were not allowed to wear trousers. Many historians believe that this was the government’s reaction to women at the time requesting the right to hold male jobs, wear male clothing, and have “liberty, equality, and fraternity”. Exceptions were made for those involved in bicycle or horse-riding activities in the late 19th century. It wasn’t until 2013 that France revoked this law.
The Many Achievements of Jane Dieulafoy
Dieulafoy’s choice to wear men’s suits and trousers was overlooked because of numerous achievements that rose her to the status of celebrity. She was raised in a Catholic household, upheld many strongly conservative stances, and even fought for her country alongside her husband in the Franco-Prussian War as a sharpshooter.
Her marriage to Marcel-Auguste Dieulafoy, a well-known civil engineer, lasted 49 years and, together, they traveled through western Iran where they made amazing archaeological discoveries in the ancient capital Susa. Thanks to their work, a new wing opened in the Louvre Museum in 1888 devoted to Iran and displaying the unique artifacts the couple brought back. The detailed diaries Jane kept during their travels through Persia were printed in the French travel magazine, Le Tour du Monde.
Her Late Years
In their later years, Jane and Marcel were treated like celebrities. Jane was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French Government in 1886. She officially petitioned the French government and was given permission to continue wearing men’s pants. She wrote several historical novels, continued her archeological efforts and travels through Spain and North Africa, and campaigned for women to be granted auxiliary positions in the military during WW2. Jane Dieulafoy died at the age of 64 in 1916, but not before making many marks on history.