By Susan K Cahn
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Additional info for Coming On Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Sport
Little evidence about Madame Caldwell survives, leaving no clues to the origin of her title or the source of her baseball expertise and enthusiasm. The record does show, however, that she promoted her team aggressively, using boldness, wit, and perseverance to drum up both players and fans. " Apparently Caldwell received no shortage of responses. Within a single two-week period, her Bloomer Girls played a Sunday school team from Grace Presbyterian, a local boys' team, and the "Hebrew Maidens" from Chicago's Hebrew Institute.
Women active in exclusive sports like golf, tennis, and equestrianism participated with fewer restrictions. Insulated from public reproach by wealth and status, they competed vigorously in private athletic and country clubs. The freedom from scrutiny that elite women gained from privilege, working-class women derived from neglect. Before 1920 only a smattering of neighborhood athletic clubs and social welfare institutions offered athletic programs for women. However, the few organized activities open to working-class girls and women rarely insisted on modified rules or restricted competition.
71 They aimed to inculcate habits of "bodily efficiency" and "hygienic living" that would enable young women "to adjust themselves to their new environment of the work room. " 72 While using supervised exercise to adjust the shopgirl to her work environment and prepare the female collegian for her role as a proper bourgeois woman, physical educators also attempted to strengthen educated women for motherhood. By the early twentieth century, decades of declining birthrates and poor health among middle- and upper-class white women caused serious alarm among wealthy Americans of Anglo-Saxon Protestant descent.