Women Tried To Combat Catcalling In Public By Beginning An Anti-Flirt Club

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Women Tried To Combat Catcalling In Public By Beginning An Anti-Flirt Club

 

Women in the 1920s liked going out as much as anyone else from this century, and even then, they had to deal with men -- specifically motorists -- who Anti-Flirt Club secretary Helen Brown says liked to take advantage “of the precedent established during the war by offering to take young lady pedestrian in their cars.” 

Brown and Alice Reighly, the president of the Anti-Flirt Club, then went on to further elucidate on what this club meant for these women. According to The Atlantic, a website covering news, politics, culture, technology, and health, the women of the Anti-Flirt Club even drew up a list of guidelines to follow for this club. 

 

Photo Credit by The Atlantic

 

As this was the 1920s, the idea that women could be targeted for simply being, well, women, was not yet widely accepted. So, the guidelines implored that women be less flirtatious with men they didn’t know--advising them not to go out with them lest they turn out to be married, or even make eye contact with them, or smile--to ensure that they don’t fall for the whole motorist gambit.  

Nevertheless, the project worked. 

Soon, other chapters in major US cities were being set up, although most of them were still headed by men. 

 

Photo Credit by The Atlantic

 

The intention of the organization was still to attempt pushing back against skirt-chasers and “mashers,” the latter being “a man who made his amorous intentions known in an aggressive manner, maintaining brief relations with various women.” 

In the Manhattan branch, they even started a slogan, “Jail the Flirt,” and circulated an insignia that made flirter out as “lounge lizards.” Initially, this was first used to describe “musicians who performed in lounges,” but later became the general name for any man who tried to make their “amorous intentions known in an aggressive manner.” 

 

Photo Credit by Wikimedia Commons

 

These were the anti-catcalling efforts they made back in the day to fend off unwanted male attention that women got just by walking down the street. Unfortunately, The Atlantic reported that the movement was later pushed into the back burner and forgotten in the later 1930s, but it was mentioned some time again, in passing, in a Chicago Defender newspaper, in an article titled “Police Drive Auto Mashers; 17 Boys Seized.” The mention was mocking in nature. 

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