Change And Conformity Essay

2241 words - 9 pages

Change and Conformity
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." This quote rings true to the 1920s in the fact that Americans were changing their lifestyles while simultaneously being forced into conformity. The post World War One America was changing in ways that it never had before. An economic upturn and new technologies of the day made life easier than ever before. Better pay and an eight hour workday left time and money to be spent, and Americans took the opportunity to be social. New ideas and trends spread like wildfire, and post war Americans, who ...view middle of the document...

"). They received a lower payment than their spouses or other men in the workforce. One company offered free lunches and free medical care to the women in their telephone company as a form of compensation for their lower wages (Hanson, Erica 46). Another example of women becoming more prominent in the economy was the First Women’s World Fair in Chicago. Women there exhibited products that were created by women. One African-American woman at the fair was advertising and selling a kind of pitcher she had invented. While at the fair, she stated, “... The only man who has ever had anything to do with it was the attorney in the patent office at Washington." (Sawyers). This shows not only the growing independence of women, but the fact that they were taking this new found independence and making something of it, as evident in the Women’s World Fair.
Not only were women beginning to grow economically, their social status began to improve. Women began to break the traditions of the past and began to wear shorter, more revealing clothing. They were called flappers, and the idea began in a newspaper from the drawings of John Held Jr., which depicted the modern woman as thin, short-haired, and young (Hanson, Erica 49). Women cut their hair short into bobs, rather than keeping the same long hair as the past generation. Women’s dresses now came to about the knee, and they were loose fitting. Some women during this time were even arrested for indecent exposure for their clothing, especially for swim wear, as the older generation was not accepting of the new style (Britten 28). Not all women dressed this way, however, some continued to dress like their mothers and those before them. In fact, the new “flapper” lifestyle and dress were not as common as many people think they were. Due to the economic upturn, and the new technologies such as the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine, women were able to finish work faster and have more of a social life than ever before ("’Roaring Twenties' a Time of Economic and Social Change."). Along with the change in dress came the change in what women did in public. They would go out to clubs and dance, smoke, and drink alongside men. They began to dance closer to men, which before was considered unladylike. In the past it was completely unheard of to kiss a man before you married, and the flappers completely disregarded this rule. Dating also changed. Men began calling women to go out rather than staying at the woman’s house, and kissing became acceptable to young people (Woloch). The automobile also became a new aspect of dating as it was used for dates. Again, not all women lived this lifestyle, and some continued their life as a wife, mother, and homemaker. Rural women especially continued the traditions of their parents. Women who began to act this way were very much criticised by other groups, including churches and the Ku Klux Klan (“New Women”). The women and men of past generations also condemned the new roles of...

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