‘Sadie Hawkins’ origin rooted in ‘catching’ a man

He said ‘Yes!’: (Top) Trinity Altamirano asks Mark Barayuga to Sadies with a Flaming Hot Cheetos pun. (Photo Courtesy of Trinity Altamirano)

He said ‘Yes!’: (Top) Trinity Altamirano asks Mark Barayuga to Sadies with a Flaming Hot Cheetos pun. (Photo Courtesy of Trinity Altamirano)

Michael Thomas, Staff Writer

Sadie Hawkins Day — a tradition that dates back to the late 1930s — is viewed today as a way of empowering females by allowing them to take the lead and ask a partner to a dance. Many students are surprised to learn it stems from an antiquated idea: catching a husband.
Sadie Hawkins Day is a pseudo-holiday based around a particular comic strip, published in 1937, which appeared in the series “Li’l Abner.” In this particular strip, a “homely” girl — who no one in the town wants to marry — has her father arrange a race with all the bachelors in town so she may catch a husband.

Link Crew sponsors Bear Creek’s annual Sadies Dance, following the traditional girls-ask-guys twist. Students at Bear Creek see the dance as an interesting change of pace that, ironically, gives girls more choice and creative freedom in spite of its arguably outdated origins.

“I feel like it doesn’t matter because even though that’s the origin, now the dance just gives girls the power to ask,” junior Jayden Reyes said.

“It breaks away from the norm and gives girls a chance to ask who they want and be creative in asking guys,” sophomore Garrett Mandujuan said.

To add to the controversy is the creator: Alfred Caplan, better known as Al Capp. Al Capp was a prominent adult cartoonist, radio host and creator of Sadie Hawkins Day.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Capp was accused of sexual misconduct by a half dozen women — several of whom were college students. Although action was taken by schools after several of these reports, Capp was only tried for one incident, in 1971, where he was charged with sodomy, indecent exposure and attempted adultery.

In a plea agreement, Capp pled guilty to attempted adultery, and the accompanying charges were dropped. Capp was fined $500, and his career effectively ended. One of Capp’s alleged victims is Oscar-winning actress Goldie Hawn.

“I was 19,” Hawn said in an interview with PEOPLE on May 11, 2017. “I went up for the ‘meet,’ and it was so scary. He took off his business clothes and came in in, like, a dressing gown. I got the picture, and I thought, ‘I’m in trouble, where’s the door?’”

Despite the irony of a female-empowering event being created by an alleged sexual predator, students have chosen to separate the holiday from its creator and celebrate the Sadies Dance anyway.

“I feel like the dance is so far removed from the holiday itself,” Link Crew Commissioner Ryan Duff, a senior, said. “Even though it bears the name, it has so little to do with the creator himself — it’s more about the idea of the female asking the male.”

On the other hand, Bear Creek administration seems much more unsettled by the revelations, going as far as to consider not having Sadies next year.

“I definitely think we need to consider seriously whether or not we should continue the practice, in light of PBIS,” Principal Hillary Harrell said, referring to Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, a set of tools used by schools to improve student behavior. “Everything we do as a school — both things done explicitly and implicitly — we’re teaching you all as students values and morals. If we allow an event like this to happen or continue a certain behavior, we’re basically saying it’s okay, so I will be asking student leadership and staff to review this and other school events like this to be sure they are teaching the Bruin Way.”