Monday, January 29, 2018

Early 1900s Women Had an Ingenious Method for Fending Off Gropers

Hatpin-wielding women were some of the first voices to call rude men out on their behavior, all while using a tool from the seemingly innocent and feminine world of fashion.

As women gained independence and started walking and traveling alone during the late 1800s and early 1900s, hatpins provided a quick line of defense from the unwanted touches and words of passing men. These lecherous men were known as “mashers,” and considered to be “low-down, cowardly cumberers of the earth,” as a 1904 blurb in the Los Angeles Herald put it. “Any woman with courage and a hatpin can prove it,” the paper added.

Drawing of women observing a diminutive man through a magnifying glass, about to poke the man with a hat pin, 1903. (Credit: The Library of Congress)

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