Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When Hatpins Were Weapons...!

Probably not many younger folks even know what a hatpin is! One reason is that they aren't used much anymore!

There is an interesting bit of history behind the hatpin and thanks to the folks over at KnowledgeNuts, I can share this article about those "weapons of the past" with you.

When Large Hatpins Were Declared A Menace To Society
By Debra Kelly on Monday, February 9, 2015

Fashion accessories aren’t usually dangerous, but in the early 1900s, the media was comparing the incredibly sharp, incredibly dangerous, foot-long hatpin to firearms. Women were using the hatpins to defend themselves against molestation and unwanted advances, but they were also accidentally injuring—even killing—innocent people with their hatpins. It wasn’t long before it became completely legal to arrest a woman for wearing an illegal hatpin. By the time World War I started, though, the whole thing had died down a bit—and when fashions changed, no one was wearing hatpins any more for any reason.

Hatpins have been around since the Middle Ages, when they were used to securely hold coverings over women’s hair. It was a sign of modesty, but by the time hatpins were declared a public menace, they had taken on a very different purpose.

They were, in theory, still used to hold a woman’s hat in place. By the turn of the 20th century, hats were huge, ungainly things that needed a lot of help to stay in place. Hats were an impressive bit of wardrobe, and the pins needed to hold them in place were just as huge.

And sharp.

By at least 1903, hatpins were taking on a whole new role—defense. For women now out and about, doing things like riding public transportation, it wasn’t unheard of for them to find themselves the uncomfortable victim of a “masher”—a fellow public transport rider who would take the opportunity given by the close quarters to sneak in a grope before going about his daily business.

Women were understandably fed up with it, and the hatpin became a defense.

They were nothing to laugh at, either. Hatpins were incredibly sturdy, incredibly pointed, and many were about 30 centimeters (12 in) long. Mashers that found themselves rubbing up against the wrong woman could also find they suddenly had a length of sharp metal plunged into their arm.

For the women who were able to successfully fend off sometimes violent attackers and sexual predators, it was a huge win. Those who did it were commended for their bravery and their resourcefulness. The focus of most media attention wasn’t on the weapon, how dangerous it was, or women overstepping boundaries, but the spotlight was put squarely on the inappropriate behavior that caused the retaliation on the first place.

But by 1909, hatpins had turned more dangerous than praiseworthy.

Accidents were common. In Scranton, a teenager accidentally killed her boyfriend with a poke from a hatpin, and the ordinary public transportation rider was also at risk. A young man on a streetcar in New York was poked by someone’s hatpin, and ultimately died after slipping into a coma from the head injury.

In 1912, the Chicago Police Department were well within their rights (and acting in accordance with an actual drafted and approved ordinance) to not only administer fines to women with hatpins that stuck out more than an inch from their actual hat, but to arrest them for it. They had been deemed a hazard to public safety, and a plethora of complaints made by people who had been injured by hatpins started a public outcry.

It’s wasn’t just in the United States, either. Cities like Paris, Hamburg, and as far away as Sydney, Australia saw hatpin ordinances pass, and women weren’t happy about it. At the same time, there were headlines about wives and mistresses facing off against each other in the streets, armed with hatpins. Sixty women were even arrested for refusing to pay the fines they’d gotten for wearing illegal hatpins.

There were attempts at making hatpins safer, including hatpin protectors that were designed to completely cover the dangerous accessories while keeping the same functionality that they were originally created for. Women refused to wear them, though, while newspapers were comparing the effects of hatpins to firearms.

The whole hatpin thing had kind of an anti-climactic resolutions. World War I happened, fashion changed, hats got smaller, and being a flapper became the more rebellious thing to do.

I can only imagine whatwould happen if hatpins made a comeback. First of all, hats (large hats) would have to fall back into favor. To tell the truth, I don't see that happening anytime soon, know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio again this morning. We better enjoy this weather while we can, ya know?


linda m said...

I remember hatpins very well as my grandmother had bunch in her sewing basket and her hat box. She would get mad at us kids for trying to play with them. Can't see them ever coming back but what a great weapon!! I will enjoy coffee outside and will bring some Dunkin's

Hermit's Baby Sis said...

Bubba -
As much as I love wearing hats, I don't own a hatpin. Even the largest would of my hats would not necessitate one, but a smaller version of those pins of the past might be a welcome weapon these days. Not quite so in-your-face as a pistol, maybe?
Another gorgeous patio day - I'll have a coffee refill, thanks!

deborah harvey said...

another necessity for hatpin wearing is enough hair to make a big bun to stick the pin through.
flappers cut the hair short and there was no place to put the pin.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Oh yes, I remember them. My mother and my grandma used them.

JO said...

I don't remember those long ones. There was a shorter version. I think my mom had some or maybe they were that long.

Yes another great patio day. Then it will be weed patrol again :( sigh

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda M...
I think she was wise not to arm the youngsters. Someone might have been hurt!

Donuts are always good!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Sis...
Might be hard to go through airport security wearing a hatpin...or even a hat now days!

Thanks for the visit, sis.

Hey Deb...
Yeah, the longer hair is mostly a thing of the past, I reckon.

I like the longer hair on women mostly.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Dizzy...
Reckon folks our age remember things like that

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Jo...
Funny how the memory plays tricks on us. Long or short, they would make some mean weapons, I think!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!