By Susan K Cahn
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Additional info for Coming On Strong: Gender and Sexuality in Women’s Sport
They benefited not only from the new interest in sport but from the wider set of cultural changes that gave birth to the flapper era. It was in this period that middle-class women shed the vestiges of Victorian reserve to explore new social behaviors in the cafes, clubs, and dancehalls that made up urban nightlife. 13 Particularly important were the changes in sexual morals and manners that accompanied the expansion of consumer culture. Middle-class Americans of the post-World War I era joined working-class youth in a pleasure-filled world of commercial recreation and nightlife, in the process making a decisive break with the sexual values of an earlier era.
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. In a threegame series against a Chicago boys' team, she created excitement by substituting a white pitcher and catcher for her usual black battery. The admission charge of twenty-five cents helped raise money for travel to Michigan and other nearby states, where the Bloomer Girls took on opponents of both genders and different ages and races.
21 While women's baseball attracted attention as a novelty event, tennis had a more genteel reputation and was popular among the small black middle class. Private clubs like Chicago's Prairie Tennis Club hosted citywide tournaments and developed local talent for the national African American women's championship established in 1917 by the Amateur Tennis Association (ATA). 22 Though nurtured in "society circles," African American tennis appears to have welcomed talented players from any background.