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The Traditional Image Of Women Before The 1920s

2173 words - 9 pages

On November 11, 1918 World War I ended. People celebrated by dancing and screaming with joy in the streets. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge controversy; however, the girls at Barnard College in New York danced around with their hands on the hips of each other causing uproar from the traditional communities and inciting the outlandish behavior of women during the 1920s. Thousands of people paraded the streets. Women came running to the roads with their hair pinned up, however, any other day this would be shunned upon because flaunting your neck was considered immoral. Nonetheless, there was still an all-around general feeling of freedom. Homemade confetti was tossed aimlessly into the air ...view middle of the document...

She now posed a threat to the mainstream society. Instead of making soap she would go to the store to purchase it, buy clothing in place of making it herself, and buy canned foods as a substitute for fresh. This culture continued to change with the introduction of new electronic appliances such as the vacuum cleaner, and washing machine, and by the end of the decade approximately 80% of homes had both of these devices. All of these innovative devices gave women more leisure time to do whatever they pleased. Also, what played a major role in the electronic business were the telephone, electric stove, and gas fixtures. All of these new inventions helped mold the flapper into a more modern girl, successfully giving her more free time to do what she wanted.
As the decade progressed, women went on to work jobs outside the home such as a secretary or a telephone operator; they wanted to be able to pay for their own lunches, medical bills, and not have to rely on a man. However, men were not fans of this because they were concerned with what women would do with the money they accumulated. They did not want women to gain superiority over them in any sense. Yet, this was not the only thing men had to be worried about. After almost 70 years of struggling, in 1920, congress passed the 19th amendment, a law stating that women had the right to vote. Men were afraid that women would vote them out of office. Men and some women believed that women in general didn’t have the ability to vote or the capacity to stay up to date on politics; therefore, they would not be able to make informed decisions. Since women were acquiring all these new rights, they thought they would be treated as equals instead of inferiors. In 1919, the women of the New England Union of Telephone operators went on strike. Their boss, a male, refused to negotiate with them and went as far as bringing in armed forces to pacify the situation. What started as a simple strike for wages, evolved into a fight to defend rights. Men were so persistent in keeping the old society that they did what they had to do to keep women below them and make sure they would behave properly. Society wanted to blame the freedom the war provided on this rebellion, and others simply blamed the 19th amendment. They used these as a scapegoat for what was really going on: women were evolving because they wanted to.
The job force was not the only place where women were able to confront tradition. Throughout history women have continuously transformed fashion. As the decade went on, and the women continued to evolve, so did their choice of styles. In the 18th century women wore "pocket hops" to make their hips look bigger and in the 19th century women wore padding on their buttocks to exaggerate their backside because they wanted gain a new figure. However, in the 1920s the focus was not on gaining shape, but rather on not having a shape and being straight and slim. They also threw their corsets away because they...

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