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Women In The Roaring Twenties Essay

1985 words - 8 pages

It is not often that that any aspect of society experiences a complete overhaul, nevermind within a period of time as short as ten years. Nonetheless, just such an event occurred with the women’s revolution in the 1920s. By the dawn of the twentieth century, the United States was thoroughly entangled in the first successful women’s rights movement. Seventy years earlier, in 1848, 100 activists attended the Seneca Falls Convention in support of women’s rights, especially those that would allow the female to hold the power of the ballot. Much of the rest of the movement addressed social and institutional barriers that limited women’s rights in society. However, activist groups struggled to ...view middle of the document...

2 However, the “new woman” rebelled against these restrictions; changing her attitudes about drinking, dating, marriage, parenting, and dress. With these philosophical changes came more tangible ones as well. During the Progressive Era that took place early in the twentieth century, women were granted limited rights. In the 1910s, regulations on the conditions of and hours spent at the workplace.At the same time, young women were permitted to recieve high school and college educations in growing numbers. While all of these factors played a role in the dawn of the women’s revolution, none of them provided the major catalyst that sparked the change.
The last straw, so to speak, was provided by World War I. As is always true with war, Americans were exposed to a myriad of new cultural and social ideas that flooded in from across the world and swept across the nation through print. While the number of newspapers published decreased in the years immediately following the war, there was an increase of ten million in the number of people who accessed the media.3 This newly available mass distribution news information about new ways of thinking and living, particularly concerning women. These wives and mothers, who had already been somewhat liberated when their older siblings shipped off to fight in Europe, revolutionized their own roles in society. When the men flooded out of the country to support the war effort, the women remained at home to keep the nation functioning. Although it was clear that things were changing, the causes behind that evolution are disputed. Some also attribute it to the urbanism and consumerism in America that resulted from the resolution of World War I. However, no matter the circumstances, there will always be some that are resistant to change. During the twenties, these critics were those who disagreed with the new activities of the female gender and thought that with the coming changes to society would come its ultimate demise.4 In the years prior to the Roaring Twenties, the United States struggled through a mostly unsuccessful women’s rights movement while facing female oppression in the form of the imposition of Victorian ideals before taking the first steps toward equality around the time of World War I. The next strides toward parity appeared in the 1920s, when the perceptions of women as individuals, part of the family, and as members of society were revolutionized.
The ideal for that woman of the 1920s evolved from a prim and proper lady to a strong and independent individual that possessed some masculine traits. The new woman of the Roaring Twenties rebelled against traditional Victorian ideals for women. These iconic flappers no longer had to act innocent and weak. Artist John Held depicted this change in cartoons of thin, short-haired young women who could dance, drive, kiss, drink, and smoke. These illustrations were published in national magazines where women would see and try to emulate the women...

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