Reporting on a 1919 meeting of the Women’s Freedom Congress used the headline “bobbed hair and maiden names for wives!”– exclamation point and all.
…an impassioned please by Fola La Follette that all women retain their maiden names after marriage. Miss La Follette, who has retained her individuality by refusing to be known by the name of her husband, George Middleton, doesn’t seem to have much use for men anyway. She explained with pathetic earnestness that if as a spinster you had made a name for yourself in any profession, that name, being an asset in the economic world, should surely be retained after marriage.
This decade, about 22% of American women keep their maiden name after marriage.
The author also had some choice words about the conference attendees’ looks, from their hairstyles to their faces:
Mixed in with the usual bobbed-hair types (oh, but the ugly ones are more ugly for the bobbing!) and the aforementioned uplifters were some clear cut, gentle faces — women with that air of fine bearing and breeding which rarely if ever is found in the militant type. Charming are the agitators as a rule, and the sincere ones among them courageous, and fine in their way; but gentle — never! What then were these gentlewomen doing in this assembly?
Needless to say, it’s impossible to imagine any respectable news outlet today commenting on women’s looks in such a manner at a political event, rather than a fashion event or awards show.
Bobbed Hair and Maiden Names for Wives!: That Might Be Adopted as the Slogan of the New Freedom for Women, if a Recent Meeting in New York is to be a Criterion
Published: Sunday, March 30, 1919