Essay Birth Control and Middle Class Youth

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Annie McCluskey
Mr. Holland APUSH
February 12th 2015
WWL Chapter 9

Chapter 9, Morals and Manners in the 1920’s, discusses things such as the sexual revolution, marriage, the media, and the prohibition. In the 1920’s there were four main issues: the freedom of the middle class youth (flappers), the agitation over birth control, the debate about the future of marriage, and commercial manipulation. As times began to change, so did the amount of independence that woman were granted from society. Woman began to get shorter haircuts and wear much more provocative clothing than was previously accepted. Margaret Sanger became a very influential woman who advocated the use of birth control. Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood and did a lot of good for the people of this time, however she was arrested for espousing contraception and women’s freedom of control over their own bodies. From her book in 1926, Happiness in Marriage, she tries to teach both men and women about committed relationships and mutual respect. This timeless piece reflects many of the ideas possessed by today’s society, but in the past the book was frank and shocking to the people. Along with the new lifestyles and perspectives in the Jazz Age came with many questions such as Does Jazz Put the Sin in Syncopation? Many moral standards became to change with the time, especially with relationships. Previously, young women and men rarely mingled without the careful chaperonage of adults; however, increasing economic independence led to less parental supervision over premarital behavior. The media had a huge effect on the views held by the public as more and more risqué images were flashed in everyone’s eyes even titled “a revolution of manners and morals”. Films were often controversial, yet they revealed both the best and the worst in the characters that they portrayed. Moving pictures were extremely influential and demonstrated positive themes such as the reward of ambition, self-worth, virtue, and the idea that industry led to success. Movies are where the young people were “deriving a large part of their education, views of life, and character forming habits.” They also helped the nation get a glimpse of the world outside of the area that they lived. City dwellers were able to see the country life and the lifestyle of the people who lived there and vice versa. The new media industry also perpetuated our economy and actors and actresses became a “big deal” to citizens. Along with the moral deterioration, the prohibition aimed to bring “drunkards” back to a certain standard lifestyle. Unfortunately, the prohibition had the opposite effect on society because it made drinking fashioned and exciting. The prohibition yielded illegal bars, an illegal industry for bootleggers, an increase in gang action, and most importantly the public’s loss of respect towards lawmakers and politicians during the 1920s.