The History of Sadie Hawkins


Tola Aluko, General

“A really great way for women to feel empowered by asking the guys that they like [out] instead of the other way around.” – Ashley Reynolds


The Sadie Hawkins Dance, an infamous breaking of gender roles, where girls ask the guys out. If you’ve ever been in high school or college, you’ve probably heard of this dance. But did you know that Sadie Hawkins wasn’t even a real person?


Sadie Hawkins was a character in a cartoon strip, made by Al Capp. She made her cartoon debut on November 15, 1937. Sadie was the daughter of the town’s wealthiest man, but she wasn’t that pretty, so no man would marry her. Sadie was 35 years old at the time of the comic strip’s debut. During the 1930’s, people thought that women’s reproductive eggs were dying by the time they turned 23. So, Sadie being 10+ years past that time and unmarried, was grossly frowned upon, especially by her father. 


To protect his reputation, and save his daughter from being branded as an “old maid” (a single woman seen as too old for marriage), Sadie’s father called all the men looking to marry in town to participate in a race. A race where Sadie would chase after the men, and the one she caught would have to marry her by law. The race put gender norms in reverse.


The idea manifested itself into a dance in November 1938, when the first recorded “girls-ask-boys” Sadie Hawkins Day dance was held. One year after the dance, and 2 years after Sadie’s cartoon debut in 1939, Life magazine reported over 200 colleges holding Sadie Hawkins Day events. It became an annual tradition for girls at high school and college campuses to ask out guys all over the country.


In a brief interview, Gwen Kinzler admired that Sadie’s “puts dances in a whole new light” because “girls are asking the guys.” Madeleine Teas echoed something similar: that this dance gives girls “the opportunity to be empowered.” While some people could care less about the dance like Taylor Bernhard, Utkarsh Dave believes that the role reversal is “a great idea.”