Beware the Masher

Sexual Harassment in American Public Places, 1880–1930

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About the Book

This book examines the history of sexual harassment in America’s public places, such as on the streets and on public transit vehicles, in the period 1880 to 1930. Such behavior was referred to then as mashing with the harasser most commonly being called a masher. It began around 1880 as a response to the women’s movement as females in America increased their efforts to gain more freedom of movement and greater independence.
Women going out and about on their own, or only with other women, threatened male dominance and control of society. One response by men was to turn to the sexual harassment of those women when they were alone in public places. This book looks at the extent of the problem, editorial opinions on the subject, the tendency to blame the victim, and the responses of women in the streets to the harassment. As well, the actions and reactions of the courts and the actions and reactions of the police are studied. Much of the sexual harassment of this period took place in the daytime hours, in busy areas of cities.

About the Author(s)

Cultural historian Kerry Segrave is the author of dozens of books on such diverse topics as drive-in theaters, lie detectors, jukeboxes, smoking, shoplifting and ticket-scalping. He lives in British Columbia.

Bibliographic Details

Kerry Segrave
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 41 illustrations, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7927-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1461-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface  1

Introduction  3

1. Rules of Conduct  5

2. Description and Extent  12

3. Editorials and Opinions  32

4. Blame the Victim  42

5. Women Respond with Words and Guile  54

6. Women Respond Physically  60

7. Women Respond with Weapons  76

8. Women Respond Through a Protector  89

9. Bystanders Respond  101

10. Laws  109

11. Courts, Actions and Reactions  118

12. Remedies  144

13. Crusades  156

14. The Police, Actions and Reactions  173

Conclusion  199

Notes  203

Bibliography  215

Index  227