Every little girl at one time or another played cowgirl. Being a cowgirl is always much more fun than being a little lady, which is what all parents want of their daughters. Little ladies that wear white gloves to church, say their please and thank you's, and make sure their dresses are pressed. As much as every little girl wants to be a cowgirl, there were two ladies in the Wild West that did, and became key figures in the Wild West, even though they were women. Miss Lucille Mulhall and Phoebe Ann Moses Butler, known better as Annie Oakley, did more than just turn heads they were the beginnings of cowgirls as we know it. Some even say that the word cowgirl was invented just to define these two rompin', stompin' ladies. In a time of Victorian ladies though, these women were not truly accepted as they dared to be athletes, wore pants, and challenged men. This forced the two women to hold a juxtaposition of two strong images: that of the ultra feminine prairie flower and that of the hardened, tough woman who was closely associated with Western men.
[...] At the same time, Pawnee Bill Lillie, a man who had started up his own show inspired by the success of Cody's show, advertised “beauteous, dashing, daring and laughing Western girls who could outride all the other women in the world” (24). Women never before had been just a visible minority in the industry of Wild West shows, but now cowgirls had won a place in the show business. With this new wave of revolution in the wild west shows, it was clear that women were going to be characters in these popular shows, doing something more than just being rescued. [...]
[...] Despite being a rule breaker in a time of proper Victorian image, she was still showered with affections from the public, the press, and royalty. She received awards from prestigious clubs such as the New York Riding Club that recognized her trick riding skill. Even the Queen of England approved of her and made special arrangements to compliment Annie on her showmanship. The way in which Annie had to present herself was just as tricky and complicated as her shooting stunts. [...]
[...] the storm though, and left the United States with the image that is still held dear still today of the rhinestone cowgirl, with the perfect blend of grit and grace. The legend of the cowgirl started in a land not too long ago, nor too far away. The first Wild West shows opened in May 1883, though they reflected a time approximately thirty years earlier. The west had already been won, as the transcontinental railroads were underway, the Homestead Acts had opened up all western lands for settlement, and all Indians had been moved to reservations (Barrett 22). [...]
[...] In the age that women were trying their best to be the best homemakers that they could, cowgirls were being depicted on the radio, and later on television, challenging gender roles. It made women wonder if they could really be tough yet attractive, sexual without being bad, or what happened if the women stopped submitting to men. Most memorable western pair in the fifties was Roy Rogers, and Trigger, lest we forget his partner Dale Evans, the woman who earned the right to be called “Queen of the West.” Her figure as a rhinestone cowgirl of the 1950's is very much the ideal that still is strong today. [...]
[...] In the beginning of her career, she rode for her father's show, demonstrating duties of men and women who made their living raising cattle. She toured with his show and many others, being called the “perfect hybrid of a ranch hand and showman” (Wood-Clark 17). Lucille was the first woman to rope steers and hogs, and the only one to enter steer roping at the rodeos of the time. Exactly why she was permitted to enter this dangerous event is a mystery, seeing as cowgirls were discouraged from entering the more docile wild horse race. [...]
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