Yesterday Ms. Ryerson announced at school meeting that the event formerly known as the Sadie Hawkins Dance will henceforth be known officially as the Mid-Winter Formal. The old name, she said, was “heteronormative,” promoting the idea or world view that heterosexuality is the normal or preferred sexual orientation, and that the administration altered it so the language used would be more inclusive. While students agreed that no school function should be in any way biased against LGBTQ students in our community, many didn’t understand why the name had to go; indeed, some even said it was calling attention to an issue that didn’t exist in the first place.
Because of this confusion, I spoke to Ms. Ryerson today to clarify the reasons behind the change. Despite the seeming innocence of the name, Ms. Ryerson explained that a Sadie Hawkins dance, by definition, is a dance “where girls ask the guys.” Many may be surprised to learn that Sadie Hawkins isn’t even specific to Blair, but is, in fact, a widespread sort of high school dance, which originally got its name from a 1937 edition of the Li’l Abner comic strip.
(Cover from Li’l Abner) (Copyright Tys Sweeney 2015)