Omaha Daily Herald, December 20, 1881. Yes, well, it’s been her gig for 16 years, so it make sense she doesn’t see it as unusual. Moving on.
I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about the problem of the respectable lady shoplifter–meaning a bourgeoise who gets busted stealing stuff she could easily afford to buy, as opposed to professional thief who steals for a living. Pretty common phenomenon after the mid-19th century. Old maids on an annual pocket-picking spree with gentleman friends? Is this some sorta Sadie Hawkins Day-type tradition?
Yeah, so from what I can make out, the “kleptomania” diagnosis comes into being precisely to explain the problem of the hitherto-respectable lady shoplifter. But as the diagnosis spreads, there’s lots of populist-conservative editorial grumbling about it: “When the poor do it, it’s called stealing. Hang ’em all, let God sort ’em out!” That sort of thing.
Golly, that is just so Foucauldian.