"And how about that Sadie Hawkins Day?" says Al Capp in an article he wrote for the March 31, 1952 issue of Life. "It doesn't happen on any set day in November; it happens on the day I say it happens." Al Capp says he received, "tens of thousands of letters from colleges, communities and church groups," starting around July each year asking what day so they could make plans accordingly.
The day was celebrated across the nation. In its November 24, 1941 issue, Life reported on a day of "humorous osculation" at the University of North Carolina, as well as 500 other colleges, clubs, and Army camps across the country, as they celebrated "the only holiday based on events in a comic strip." Racy photos accompanying the article show an actress demonstrating effective techniques for kissing an unwilling man.
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 1952.
"Well, Sadie Hawkins Day has always revolved around Li'l Abner fearing marriage to Daisy Mae. Now that his worst fears have come hideously true, what will he and Daisy Mae do on Sadie Hawkins Day?" the comic strip creator wrote in the cover story of the March 31, 1952 issue of Life. 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. 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 273 undergraduate study participants deemed that if a woman initiated a date and then the man kissed her, he was giving her a "pity date." However, the overwhelming majority of participants said that if the man initiated the date and then women kissed him, both the man and the woman were interested in a relationship. This doesn't mean that women wait demurely for men to become interested in them.
"Women essentially do it without asking the question," says my friend Dana, one of the strongest and smartest women I know. "They make themselves available or put themselves in front of men in key situations."
The nonverbal flirting techniques to which Dana alludes are known as "proceptive behaviors." As Michael Mills, Ph.D. explains in Psychology Today, these behaviors, like smiling, raising eyebrows, and flipping hair, leave the signaler "less open to direct rejection" and are rated as most effective when performed by women.