Costume Candidate for 2013: Annie Oakley

Thanks to our Kickstarter campaign for 2013, we’re adding 19 new costumes this season, 7 of which our backers and supporters will get to vote on. This series of posts is designed to briefly introduce the many notable women and legendary figures we’ll be considering. Voting will take place spring/summer of 2013.


Will Rogers called her “the greatest woman rifle shot the world has ever produced.” The Associated Press dispensed with the female qualifier in her obituary, calling her “perhaps the greatest shooter of all time.” Sitting Bull famously nicknamed her “Little Sure Shot.”

The woman could shoot. She could hit any target, it seemed, no matter how tiny. She could shoot the heart out of a playing card, or, if the card was held sideways, split it in half. She could shoot the ash off a cigarette and the cork out of a bottle. She could shoot upside down, backwards, looking over her shoulder in a mirror, anything. And she was consistent: one of her fellow sharpshooters said it was simply impossible to beat her. She was like a machine.

Annie Oakley was born poor, and originally took up shooting as a way to feed her family. Her incredible skill eventually made her the star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and an international sensation. At the height of her career she may have been the most famous woman in America. She used her celebrity for good, raising money for widows and orphans, paying for young women to attend college, and championing some rights for women. Some rights; not all. She was opposed to suffrage, for example. But she was fully in favor of women being allowed to do the things that she herself had excelled at: shooting guns and earning money. She argued for women to receive equal pay for equal work, to compete in sports, to be trained in the use of firearms, even to go to war as sharpshooters. She believed that women were strong and, aside from tasks requiring significant upper body strength, capable of doing anything a man could do—and doing it just as well. Given how transgressive her life already was, maybe the suffrage thing was just a bridge too far.

Think we should add an Annie Oakley costume to Take Back Halloween? If you missed our Kickstarter campaign you can still become a supporter and get to vote on the new costumes.


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