If the Anti-Flirt activists of the early 20th century had gotten their way, cheeky advances and drive-by flirting would today be things of the past. During the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, an abundance of articles offering familiar advice on amorous overtures suddenly materialize en masse.
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But there was a time when one of the holiday's most popular topics—flirting—was under attack in America. A Washington Post article from February 28,titled "10 Girls Start War on Auto Invitation," laid out the problem: "Too many motorists are taking advantage of the precedent established during the war by offering to take young lady pedestrians in their cars, Miss Helen Brown, Longfellow Street, declared yesterday.
Brown, along with the president—a Miss Alice Reighly of Harvard Street—made their plan of action known. On March 4,the first-ever Anti-Flirt Week and only since would commence.
The Post published the club's rules:. Don't go out with men you don't know—they may be married, and you may be in for a hair-pulling match. Don't fall for the slick, dandified cake eater—the unpolished gold of a real man is worth more than the gloss of lounge lizard.
Don't let elderly men with an eye to a flirtation pat you on the shoulder and take a fatherly interest in you. Those are usually the kind who want to forget they are fathers. It seems there was a small, national movement underway, with chapters springing up in Manhattan, Chicago, and other cities. But unlike the female-led Washington, D. During those initial meetings at the Hotel Biltmore, the New York contingent settled on a slogan "Jail the flirt" and an inia a lizard pierced by a hatpin.
The term "lounge lizard" first appeared in the American vernacular inand while it most often referred to musicians who performed in lounges, the truncated label applied to well-dressed men who wooed women with their deceptive charm.
Flirting at job interviews is common
Likewise, a "masher"—similar to a skirt chaser, wolf, or philanderer—was a man who made his amorous intentions known in an aggressive manner, maintaining brief relations with various women. New York membership was "unlimited," voluntary, and required no dues, but each member "pledged to obtain five others to the campaign for the extermination of the flirt.
Whatever the reason, the Times seemed to quickly tire of the subject. An advertisement for the production appeared in the Times on December 23, with a new, provocative line: "Anti-Flirt Crusaders: You don't know the half of it.
A day later, the Chicago Tribune ran a grainy photograph of man being thrown upside down. Sadly, no article follows—just a caption by way of explanation:. What remains unclear, though, is what these men could have actually been charged with if the New York coalition had secured a lawyer.
Several politicians had tried and failed to pass legislation regulating mashers. As early asMissouri representative Prichard B. Hoot introduced a bill that sought to regulate flirting on trains, but the endeavor ultimately proved unsuccessful.
That same year, Senator James G. McCune recommended Virginia make flirting a misdemeanor; like his earlier proposal to outlaw football, this bill did not come to fruition.
Legal precedent aside, police officers did arrest mashers, paying special attention to motorists. The Commissioner demanded "vigorous prosecution" of all offenders, an order which had apparently been last issued "in the days of yore, when 'O, you kid' was considered quite a daring remark when addressed to long haired girls in long dresses.
If any of the cases ended up in court, they did not garner media attention. The Chicago Defender later mentioned the movement on July 12,albeit somewhat mockingly.
Under the headline "Police Drive Auto Mashers; 17 Boys Seized," a reporter wrote that "prisoners' cars thronged the streets in front of the police station, and residents smiled as they learned the anti-flirt campaign was on again. The Anti-Flirt movement all but disappeared from the papers in the late s. Women who have walked city streets in the decades since know subsequent generations of the offending motorists, mashers, and lizards who hoot, whistle, and heckle still abound—but the only entity still bearing the Anti-Flirt name today appears to be a lingerie company in France.
Popular Latest. The Atlantic Crossword. In Subscribe. Don't flirt; those who flirt in haste oft repent in leisure. Don't accept rides from flirting motorists—they don't all invite you in to save you a walk. Don't use your eyes for ogling—they were made for worthier purposes.
Don't wink—a flutter of one eye may cause a tear in the other. Don't smile at flirtatious strangers—save them for people you know. Don't annex all the men you can get—by flirting with many you may lose out on the one.
Don't ignore the man you are sure of while you flirt with another. When you return to the first one you may find him gone.
The five men forming the nucleus of the organization say that in New York's streets, especially in the theatrical districts, hordes of pests of the masher species are carrying their activities to a point where no woman is safe from approach and insult. The association intends, through publicity, to educate public opinion to the point where a woman will consider it her duty to prosecute the masher who attempts to force his attentions upon her.
The association intends to have its own counsel, who will aid in prosecuting all masher cases.
Related Story. Miss Olga Emrick, a Cincinnati stenographer, shows how a jiu-jitsu twist of the wrist will send a man flip-flopping as pictured above. This street flirting has got to stop in Chicago.
No longer may young men in automobiles edge over to the curb and honk their horns at pretty girls on the sidewalk. They must quit ogling women from loafing places in front of drug stores, cigar stores and other public hangouts.