Women on the Warpath (1900)
Chicago police records document women’s weapon of choice. Hot coffee is thrown in teacup hand grenades
This is the header image to a full page Sunday story on women and how Chicago police records document women’s weapon of choice. The article is decidedly anti-female and casts women as taking advantage of unarmed men.
WOMAN HAS PET WEAPONS.
Grabs First Thing Comes to Hand Hit Man.
PREFERS A BROOM.
Police Records Show That Her Favorite with Knives Second.
QUICK AND EFFECTIVE.
It has long been acknowledged by men in all walks of life that a woman as a physical antagonist is more to be feared than a man. In this fear there is a certain deep-seated recognition in the man that in such a contest he has a certain handicap of conventionality; that he cannot strike out as he would were his assailant a man. … a Chicago woman on the warpath cannot be granted those little gallant considerations that an unarmed man in for a trouncing might ordinarily be disposed to give her. As shown by police records of a year in Chicago - her life is circumscribed by a veritable arsenal of her own.
The same article contains an infographic of sorts. Here the Chicago Tribune uses Chicago Police court records to rank the frequency of household items used by women as weapons.
The article details how each weapon might be used on the unsuspecting man:
Mop sticks are used brush-end foremost. They are humiliating agents, rather than dangerous ones. The slushing, sloshing slop of a floor cloth, soaked in dirty suds, has always been regarded as worse than falling into the South Branch of the Chicago River before the bear-trap dam was raised. If a man is not knocked out his eyes and mouth are too full of suds for anything else to interest him. Unable to see and unable to talk, his only recourse is to roll down the back steps and feel for the alley gate.
Men struck with a rolling pin have described the sensation as like the blow of a trip-hammer, followed by the Milky Way's letting go of cosmos and spilling down in fiery showers upon the world. Then a long, black, silent blank succeeds; then numbed consciousness and the smells of camphor and arnica.
Whether lighted or not, the lamp Is one of the ugliest of domestic missiles, and Its target smells bad for a long time. In nine case out of ten in the police records of the country the woman throws It at her husband, ln the hope of collecting both the life and the fire Insurance policies.
While the Chicago Tribune cast men as the victims, more news stories of the era cast women as heroic defenders. This was especially true in public settings where “mashers” might try to harass or take advantage of an unescorted woman. Outside the home, the weapon of choice was the hat pin. It also doubled as popular fashion accessory.
Header and graphic: The Chicago Sunday Tribune: Sept 16, 1900 and read the full text of the front page.
For more on women’s self defense and “domestic tranquilit”y see:
I had to look up the history of the Chicago Tribune to fully understand the malarky behind this article. After a quick wikipedia search, one finds that the paper was run with a distinctly Republican, misogynist viewpoint that was firmly in the camp of being against women's voting rights, so of course they ran these crazy, fear-mongering articles that are akin to rape victim blaming.
Pity the woman whose only weapon on hand against a assailant was a just book or a slipper.
It's interesting to study how this and similar papers were the Republican propaganda vehicles of the 19th and 20th century, and were as equally phony and hypocritical as FOX News is today.
The truly disturbing "journalism" aside, thanks for giving Lori some new ideas, Peter. A really dirty Swiffer just zoomed to the top of her list!