The comic strip was first published on November 15, and was never meant to become an annual event. But in just a few years, the day took on a life of its own. The day was celebrated across the nation. In its November 24, issue, Life reported on a day of "humorous osculation" at the University of North Carolina, as well as other colleges, clubs, and Army camps across the country, as they celebrated "the only holiday based on events in a comic strip.
As the holiday became an empowering rite for women across the country, the comic strip's protagonist Li'l Abner spent nearly two decades outracing his pursuer Daisy Mae on the annual Sadie Hawkins Day until finally marrying her in Now that his worst fears have come hideously true, what will he and Daisy Mae do on Sadie Hawkins Day?
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He was already questioning the fate of his invented holiday. Sadie Hawkins Day feels anachronistic now, but it was quite a progressive idea when it was first created.
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In the 75 years since, we've come along way. Or have we? I can probably count on one hand the times I've asked out a guy. I once emailed a boy in college to invite him to my sorority formal and was so nervous to read his response that I made one of my sorority sisters read it to me. Sure, it's no longer taboo for a woman to ask a man out on a date and many a modern man would say he's attracted to a woman who takes the initiative to ask him out, but it's still not a common practice for a woman to explicitly ask a man on a date.
Men's Health recently reported on a study that found that 41 percent of the undergraduate study participants deemed that if a woman initiated a date and then the man kissed her, he was giving her a "pity date.
Women Ask the Men – The History of Sadie Hawkins Day
This doesn't mean that women wait demurely for men to become interested in them. The nonverbal flirting techniques to which Dana alludes are known as "proceptive behaviors.
Dana's never asked out a man, which she attributes to her Southern roots, and believes that it's still perceived as very forward. For her, the thin line is handing a guy a phone number, which she's heard of girls doing at coffee shops or with waiters, because it comes off coy and not overly aggressive. According to Mills, Dana is in the majority. His study found that 93 percent of women preferred to be asked out and 83 percent of men preferred to do the asking.
But what does asking someone out mean in today's world, anyway? Singles these days kinda ask each other out and women are just as capable or guilty? It's less scary for a pursuer to send an informal text message just to "see what's up" or ask a potential love interest to "meet up later. It was more of a hunt, really: the guys were given a head start, and Sadie was to sprint after them.
If she caught one, she got to marry him.
The Ugly Truth Behind Sadie Hawkins Day
So the story goes. Sadie Hawkins was a character in the massively popular comic strip Li'l Abner , created by the cartoonist Al Capp, and her namesake day was a similarly fictional event. The first Sadie Hawkins Day appeared in the strip in November , three years after Li'l Abner debuted in newspapers, and promptly became a recurring part of the strip's plot as the race was extended to all the bachelorettes in Dogpatch.
While the prospect of a forced marriage is terrifying under most circumstances, Sadie Hawkins Day created particular dramatic tension for the comic's titular character, Li'l Abner, who was perpetually and inexplicably avoiding the advances of Daisy Mae Scragg, the town's resident megababe. To be fair, Li'l Abner was—and I'm quoting Capp's biographer, Denis Kitchen, here—"naive on his best day, dumb as a fencepost on his worst.
According to Kitchen, writing in Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary , readers were all about Sadie Hawkins Day—especially women, who were no doubt stoked about the idea of pursuing men for a change. A year after it appeared in Li'l Abner , a real-life Sadie Hawkins Day popped up at the University of Tennessee, the first of many to come. Before we get into the diffusion of Sadie Hawkins Day nationwide, a note about Al Capp, born Alfred Caplin in New Haven, Connecticut in While the tradition he invented seems to have engendered in young ladies of the era a true sense of self-determination, Capp himself was hardly a symbol of female empowerment.
The reductive and hyper-sexualized way he portrayed women like Daisy Mae in Li'l Abner —pinups with breasts nearly as big as their obsessions with marriage—was a relatively benign side of Capp's relationship to women. Though Capp built an impressive empire around his comic, which ran for 43 years and inspired a number of lucrative franchises including a theme park, the tail end of his career was engulfed in scandal when allegations surfaced that he had sexually assaulted a number of women, many of them college students.
The incident that finally got the mainstream media's attention involved a year-old student at the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire named Patricia Harry. While visiting the campus, Capp had asked the student up to his hotel room under the pretense of interviewing her to prepare for a lecture he was going to give. Instead, he exposed himself to Harry and forced her to perform oral sex. Li'l Abner ran for another seven years. Maybe not, if we limit the discussion to the comic strip.
But just a few short years after its initial publication in , Sadie Hawkins Day had taken on a life of its own.
Fun Holiday – Sadie Hawkins Day
In , Life magazine reported that colleges in cities were hosting dances in November inspired by Li'l Abner , to which young women would ask men to be their dates. High schools and church groups began to do the same; beauty pageants, foot races, and the pursuit of a live, greased-up pig at least, in Fort Hancock, N.
At some events, Capp was invited along as the master of ceremonies. As happens, the tradition evolved with time. The November 16, issue of The Portsmouth Herald reported that the week began with dates at coffee shops and culminated in a powderpuff football game. Dogpatch isn't the only town, fictional or otherwise, to create its own pseudo-holiday for man hunting. There's also Women's Day in Germany, which originated in the Beuel district of Bonn, a city on the banks of the Rhine. Sick of doing other people's laundry, the local washing women petitioned for a special day of their own in , according to the district's modern-day tourism bureau.
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