Before the 1920’s, men and women each had certain roles and expectations set by the general society that kept men in a more powerful, dominant position. However, through the 1920’s, a ‘new woman’ emerged and showed women in a new light. These ladies were starting to break society’s original rules and be independent. Ultimately, this time period consisted of women expressing and enjoying themselves by beginning careers that they were interested in, wearing clothes that were flashy and revealing, and drinking/smoking in public. They were starting to demand the respect that all men had. In doing so, our society changed in tremendous ways and for the better.
During the 1920’s, the way women dressed completely changed. Before this time period, women wore long skirts and hardly showed any skin. Also, their hair was long and they did not wear any makeup. The new women of the 1920’s became known as ‘Flappers.’ Source 19 in the text shows a flapper from the 1920s who is wearing a skirt that shows her ankles, her hair is cut into a bob, and she is wearing visible makeup. Ultimately, these ladies were going against the way society thought women should behave and dress like- which was prim and proper. The flappers changed women’s role in society as they represented a more ‘free’ woman who could go out to places to dance, drink and smoke in public, and enjoy the party scene. Before the 1920’s, women would not do any of those things because it was frowned upon. Flappers redefined gender roles because they were doing things that were thought to be for men that women should not participate in. They helped society to understand that women and men should be equal in all ways. Further, source 18 shows a picture of Clara Bow- a woman who was seen as the new “it girl” of the 1920’s. Her whole look changed the way women dressed. Not everyone liked the new women in fact many people did not agree with how the women were acting. Many people said it was a sin and that because of them they were changing the culture. However, in source 21, a minister defends the flappers saying that what is happening is “not a sin, but a declaration of independence.” The flappers also get defened by a physician who says that the way they dressed would help them adapt to the climate and the lack of clothing would not hurt them in any way. Consequently, this newfound wave of freedom furthered along the rights and respect that each woman should have as they declared that they could be free and enjoy themselves just as the men could. In the 1920’s, the gender differences between men and women were extremely apparent. During the Great War, the deployment of men to Europe created the need to employ women in hospitals, factories, and