Comedy Central’s Drunk History is back tonight, with the first episode focusing on author Mary Shelley and her creation of Frankenstein. The perfect mix of educational and fun, I like to think that in a way this show fills the void that Wishbone left in our lives when it went off the air in the late 90s. (Fun fact: that little dog helped me answer a test question about The Odyssey in high school.) As a great lover of history, every time I watch Drunk History I always think about what story I’d like to tell if I were on the show. And as my nerdiness is deeply profound, I can never narrow it down to just one. There are so many interesting things that happened in the past, and I’d love to tipsily talk about them all. But for the purposes of this post I picked something fun, a heartwarming tale full of fancy hats and women stabbing sexist pigs. I even had a hard time deciding what I’d get drunk on (probably vodka cranberries or whiskey sours), but I do know that I’d be drinking it out of a fancy crystal goblet. Is that a wise receptacle choice? Absolutely not. Is that fact of interest to me? No. So let’s get started!
The Hatpin Peril
I first became aware of this story a while ago when someone on Twitter did a massive thread about it (which no longer seems to be there), and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. We all know that men are the worst, right? And we all know that they’ve been the worst for pretty much forever, right? Well on May 28th, 1903, young Leoti Blaker literally stabbed one for being a dirtbag. Said dirtbag had been using a rustling stagecoach to inch closer and closer to her, and when he snuck his arm around her lower back, our girl Leoti pulled an almost foot long hatpin and jabbed it into him. Respect.
In 1912, a teenaged Elizabeth Foley stopped an armed robber by jumping towards the guy’s face, hatpin in hand, and a woman in Chicago stabbed a man who tried to cover her face with a chloroform soaked rag. Spectacular job ladies! Women have been sick of men’s shit since the beginning of time, and in the early 1900s they had sharp weapons on their person at all times to brandish if need be. President Theodore Roosevelt, who was looking for a fight literally every day of his life, loved it, stating that “no man, however courageous he may be, likes to face a resolute woman with a hatpin in her hand.” Damn right, Teddy.
Unfortunately the initial public support for women defending themselves against sexual harassers waned, because if history has taught us anything it’s that if white men aren’t allowed to behave exactly the way they want to with no repercussions whatsoever, they’re gonna throw a fit. I mean is a woman’s right to exist without being terrorized really more important that a man’s right to face zero consequences for his actions?! Hysterically hyperbolic calls for laws regulating hatpins started to pop up. This one has shows a guy’s entire body being impaled by one and honestly, LMAO.
One woman stated, “No man has a right to tell me how I shall dress and what I shall wear” at a city council meeting in 1910, and unfortunately the word “shall” is the only outdated part of that sentence. As giant hats with glorious amounts of ribbons and plumage went out of fashion and the flapper look became popular the whole thing kind of died down, but for a brief time 100 years ago, terrible men everywhere were being violently stabbed in the middle of the street. Yay history!