I don't have the authoritativeness to figure out why it is worn only by men, but it is worn by women of progressive Jewish communities. I could only believe that a previously gender-balanced society could veer off-course into paternalistic attitudes, with the advent of farming, warfare, tools and weapons with consequent segregation of perceived gender roles appropriate to performing those tasks.
I wish to comment on the meaning of the word and propose an exegesis.
ציצת incidentally also mean flower.
So the children of Israel are to make florets of tassels at the fringes of their garment.
Being a sewing enthusiast, I could say that tying up your fringes is an pre sewing-machine, pre iron-on-epoxy tape method of preventing your garments from fraying. In recent advances, we could simply iron on epoxy tape to fringes to prevent their fraying.
The idea, I believe, behind this practice is an illustration of the tedium of numerous rules and regulation in ancient society that they are not a tedium but a beauty of flower-like structures around the fabric of society to prevent society from fraying into disorderliness.
It is an exhortation that rules and commandments are a beauty like rows of flowers, that help keep society together, unfrayed.
As a reminder that salvation is not the effort of an individual but it takes the joint effort of a whole village for a person to achieve salvation. That a singular personal confession and conviction is insufficient to achieve salvation. IOW, there is no such thing as "personal salvation". Salvation is a community affect and effect. Each of us is to be a beautiful tassel keeping the whole fabric of salvation together.
So next time, you run your fingers thro the tsitsit, remember not to succumb to philosophies that urge you to make personal confessions for your personal salvation, not to believe that you can ignore some commandments and pay attention to only those that suit your predefined spiritual convictions and theological disposition.
Also, when you terminate the ends of the threads of your fabric you have quite a few choices
- quick and dirty and unsightly tying them just to prevent fraying
- put in effort to beautifully tie the fringes into beautiful florets.
This practice is also not just a reminder to the ordinary member of Jewish society. It is also a reminder to the leaders of the community, to the rabbis and rebetzin that the rules and laws they formulate to keep society together, they must ensure those rules are as beautiful, as even-handed and as palatable as possible. That if there arose multiple possible interpretation of the Torah to formulate a law, choose the one that the ordinary citizen will appreciate, one that would be seen as part of a beautiful arrangement of flowers, but one that does not divide society.