Paving the way

Sadie's dance allows girls to break gender-role stereoptypes

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ILLUSTRATION BY LULU WEGMAN

In the 80 year tradition of the Sadie Hawkins, some have viewed the dance skeptically. The dance, upon deeper analysis, may not seem to be as progressive a tradition as it appears on the surface. By labeling the Sadie’s specifically as a “girls ask boys” dance, it may make the concept seem atypical—that all other dances must be categorized by boys asking girls.

The Sadie Hawkins dance originated from the publishing of Al Capp’s Lil Abner Comic strip that pictured all the unmarried women of the town of Dogpatch lined up at a starting line on Sadie Hawkins Day, ready to chase the eligible men in the town .

Though the concerns regarding the categorization of Sadie’s by the gender that asks their partner to the dance, the very obvious, but nonetheless important, progressive aspect of Sadie Hawkins cannot be forgotten. It is a twist on tradition that empowers women. Sadie Hawkins Day was meant by Al Capp in his 1937 comic strip as an illustration of the power of women despite societal norms and should continue being viewed in this light.

The Sadie Hawkins dance should not be considered offensive or seen as a declaration that a girl needs special permission to ask a boy to a dance, but rather as an opportunity for her to explore a deviation from the stereotype. And the experience should not end on the date of the dance. Having experienced the reversed gender roles should allow girls to feel that they can in fact do this on any of the 364 other days of the year.

In many other facets of society, women are oppressed, told that they cannot do what men can, treated as if they are less than their male counterpart. The Sadie Hawkins dance, however, challenges these absurd notions. It serves not as a restriction on a girl, allowing her only to ask a boy out on this date, but rather as a symbol that she too can initiate a proposal to a dance, to be the first one to show interest in a relationship.

The tradition of the male asking the female to dances and on dates is still dominant in society, and with the media’s encouragement of this longstanding tradition it seems unlikely that this societal expectation will quickly dissipate.

It is, however, important to recognize that events like the Sadie Hawkins dance, which encourage girls to feel comfortable challenging the status quo, serve as an important step in instilling young women with confidence.

Reversed gender expectations should not be limited to Feb. 11, 2017 but encouraged consistently. It is unrealistic and frankly unnecessary to discourage the tradition of boys asking girls to dances, but perfectly acceptable to make our way towards a society in which two traditions can equally coexist.