Opinion: The demise of the Sadie Hawkins dance


Lola Burns

This school year marks the end of an outdated and heteronormative tradition at Foothill Tech: the Sadie Hawkins dance. It’s time to stop reinforcing outdated gender roles in the everyday lives of students.

Claire Hadley, Writer

The fall of a traditional American dance struck Foothill Tech this year; goodbye Sadie Hawkins, hello Hearts of Havana. 

Sadie Hawkins is the dance where stereotypical gender roles are encouraged to be reversed when it comes to dance proposals in which the girl instead asks the boy to the dance. 

The origin behind this dance has managed to hide under the covers of high schools across the nation. Sadie Hawkins stems from a sexist comic strip released in 1937 titled “Lil Abner,” where an annual event called “Sadie Hawkins Day” occurred once a year in Dogpatch, Kentucky. Named after the earliest settler labeled as “the ugliest girl who never got a husband,” women were allowed to chase after bachelors and keep the ones that they caught once a year on a certain day in November.

Creating a misogynistic holiday in a comic strip, as well as condoning a dance to be celebrated after a woman whose ugly features disabled her from finding love, is absolutely disheartening. The idea that a woman’s looks determine her chances of love is referring to the idea that women need to be pretty to marry. Sexist, piggy, gross; what else could describe this derogatory concept? The whole “Sadie Hawkins day” from the comic is instilling the idea that men always chase after women, and it is never reversed unless there is a special day for it. 

It can’t go unsaid that this dance elevates heteronormative relationships. At this dance it is a custom for girls to ask out guys. What about the millions of high school students who are part of the LGBTQA+ community? Where is their representation at this school dance? According to the Humans Rights Campaign Foundation, there are around 20 million adults who identify as non-heterosexual. This is a huge margin of our population that deserves equal representation and support at the high school level. Though a dance may not seem like a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, it is still an activity that abides to the school and its honor. 

With this being said, it is understandable to see why many find joy in this American tradition. Without reaching under the surface, Sadies is an encouragement for students to ask someone out who they normally wouldn’t to another common dance such as Homecoming or Prom. It’s a dance that rallies high schoolers to venture out of their comfort zone and embrace taking a risk. It’s a chance for people to find boldness from within and seize the opportunity. It gives youth an opportunity to face fears of rejection head-on. There are much better ways to go about advocating for this, however, as it is important that schools start to move away from a heteronormative, sexist dance. Optimistically, Sadie Hawkins dances across the nation will begin to fade away, but for staff of school districts that continue to host an annual Sadie Hawkins, hopefully it is for the sake of pushing students to go out of their comfort zones, not because of the offensive gender roles engraved in the backstory of this dance. 

Though Sadie Hawkins has ceased at Foothill Tech, there is a new Valentine’s Day themed dance taking its place on Feb. 24, 2023, titled “Hearts of Havana.” In the past, Sadies at Foothill Tech have also provided a medium for a low-key dance on school grounds that requires a minimal amount of cash without a code of formal attire. Students should expect this same atmosphere when attending the new and upcoming dance.

What do you think?