The History Of Mashing

The dictionary defines “mashing” as – Slang To flirt with or make sexual advances to.

Back in the olden days, when it was still not quite safe for women to be out on the street alone, she may be mashed upon by a strange man. Seems pretty common today, but in the past it was illegal and not tolerated. In cities and towns, men didn’t have the ready imagery of women like there is today, so they would hang out in the street, ducked in under buildings and eaves to stare at women who were walking by. In old black and white photos if you see two belles walking down the sidewalk, you will also notice men loitering around to get an eyeful. Some took it a step further, and mashed on them. There were also reports of serial huggers – men who would go up to a lady and feign recognition with a pervy hug. With a mashing conviction came heavy fines and sometimes a jail term.

In the excellent book “Policewomen” by Kerry Segrave we are witness to the controversy from both sides. Pro and Con. Quotes ranging to everything from “It’s the girl’s fault” to the age-old blame of the role of females in movies:


In this case from 1910, the man claims innocence and goes so far as to say he doesn’t even like women. I’m not sure if “spooning” means what I think it means:


The term also applied to overall pervs in general. This man was jailed for creeping around some children and buying them ice cream (from 1911). I’m not sure if he ate their lunch or they did:


Also from 1911, in this long essay about Los Angeles we find out that “the masher is the victim of a disease” …and… “they are a nuisance”. And a pretty woman goes undercover to catch mashers:


In 1920 this “he vamp” got his ass busted mashing:


This 1941 article from Milwaukee mentions a serial hugger:


Also from 1941, a year in which news about mashing seems to have crested, we find out that fed-up women wanted stiffer fines for mashing, but the judge isn’t buying it. Also mentioned is the hugger scare of last year: