Stylishly Dangerous: When Men Feared Women With Hatpins
A hundred years ago no man would even dare to harass a woman on the street. They feared one of the most popular female’s accessories: the infamous hatpin.
The 1880’s set the scene for strong independent women who enjoyed long, unchaperoned walks. Some disreputable men considered such behavior as alluring. These mashers did not mind taking advantage of an unprotected lady. Sexual harassment was thriving on the streets as never before.
To be safe, women had to act. The solution came, literally, off the top of their heads. Over-sized hats had just come along. To make these hats sit still on their high hairstyles, women used pins. This fashion hardware came in lengths of up to 10 inches long. The perfect weapon for an elegant lady! Mashers now had to find a good excuse for the scratches on their cheeks. Some of them even died form infections after nearly avoiding their eyes being gouged out.
Hatpins were so effective that lawmakers needed to limit their length, forcing women to pay a US$50 fine for spotting hatpins measuring over 9 inches in length. Women got furious and often refused to follow the rules.
Some men hated the over-sized hates for completely different reasons. Besides hiding a potential weapon, they could be an inconvenience in public. They were impossible to see over in crowds. Churches and theaters had to put up signs asking ladies not to wear large hats inside.
In the 1920’s ladies started bobbing their hair short. This new flapper culture left the extraordinary long hatpins out of fashion, and women with one less way of protecting themselves.