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Women Changing Role’s in the 1920’s

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During the 1920’s women had began to change their roles in society to show that they can be more than what they appeared. Before the 1920’s women were second class citizens that came second in society, they did not have the same privileges as men did. Many women also did not have jobs which contributed to society because women were busy at home taking care of children and the house. Also the expectations of men were to be the supporters of the family which made women housewives. Women of the 1920’s were represented as well mannered and proper or a better term “Lady like.” Soon after they began to change how society portrayed them. Women’s changing roles in the 1920’s influenced other women to gain more responsibilities and show men that they are just as equal as they are, such as how they dressed, women’s patriotism, and women’s employment.

Women’s roles changed because of how they dressed. Women’s fashion began to dress in a more risqué look with shorter clothing. This new fashion statement began to pick up a reputation and a name called Flappers. Flappers were women who dressed in shorter dresses showing more skin above their ankles that ended near their mid thighs. Their dresses came in various colors and styles, but what all their dresses had in common was silky material and loosely embroidered beading around each dress. Make-up was also one of the biggest and most commonly seen in flapper’s styles. “Five factors had become important to such as; face, figure, coiffure, posture and grooming.” (Nolan, Carol)

Women’s fashion had been recognized by movie stars and magazines’. “Glamour was influenced through Paris, and Coco Chanel. Major fashion styles had been taken from three major magazines: Vogue, The Queen, and Harper’s Bazaar.” (Nolan, Carol) Women had begun to change the role they were representing by changing the term “Lady Like.” Although there was controversy over the new look about how women were beginning to dress, they had no longer waited in the shadows to make risks. They took on the responsibilities of what they were getting themselves into and began to change even more to show men how bold they can be.

Women had begun to take a more masculine role in society. Women had began to go to midnight bars called speakeasy’s, where they would drink illegal liquor and smoke cigarettes. They drank and smoked to show men that they can also be like them in a more feminine way. Usually men would be the ones who would drink and smoke. “Flappers wore silky dresses with cropped hair smoked cigarettes or drank illegal liquor listening to Jazz music with men.” (WW1 Patriotism, Politics, and Women) Women had also wanted to show men that they weren’t always proper and lady like as society portrayed them as. This is one of the many reasons why women had gone to midnight speakeasy clubs. Women began to show their masculinity by cutting their hair to their ears called bobbed haircuts. They had also tried to make themselves look more masculine looking by flattening out their breasts and hips. “They wanted a more masculine look by having flatter breasts and hips also cutting their hair in bobbs.” (Nolan Carol) Women tried to look more masculine so that they can show men that they can be free- spirited and ready to have some fun. Also they wanted the media and society to take them more seriously to make a difference in the world for all women.

Women’s rights dramatically changed women’s role in America. Women had finally received the right to vote in the 1920’s. Although many women’s lives were changed due to women’s right to vote, only certain types of women could vote. “The Constitution had allowed white women the right to vote.” (WWI Patriotism, Politics and Women) Despite the fact that only white women had began to show their Patriotism, later in the years women had tried to gain the right of all women the right to vote. After the Constitution had passed the nineteenth amendment women had began to think positively. Their attitudes had changed from being deprived of themselves to becoming more confident in themselves to have a voice and to gain more important responsibilities. “The nationwide women movement was helping create new attitudes toward the role of equal rights.” (WW1 Patriotism, Politics and women) Women were finally beginning to feel as though they were no longer being treated as second class citizens. They were finally getting the recognition to becoming equal.

Women had begun to gain more responsibilities in their roles in America. Many women had begun to establish a social status to join and lead civic and religious organizations. “Women were in the forefront of the temperance movement and then the subsequent prohibition campaigns against alcohol.” (WW1 Patriotism, Politics and Women) While women were able to soak up the opportunity of their civil responsibilities, they were able make their voice heard by creating campaigns and organizations against alcohol. They also began to make their voice heard by getting involved in government issues. They also were able to enjoy their responsibilities more by being able to attend college. This allowed them to have a major opportunity in life to finally pursue what they wanted to become. This also allowed them a chance to show men that they are much more then they appear. Women were able to achieve a job suitable to provide to society. Women’s employment changed many women’s roles in the 1920’s. Women during the 1920’s started out as housewives, soon after they wanted to do more than just stay at home. Women had began to work in the war as nurses. Propaganda is what had persuaded women into helping out during the war as nurses.

“Propaganda posters targeted females at a young age, with clarion calls such as For girls must work that men may fight: Y.W.C.A.” (WW1 Patriotism, Politics, and Women) So many women wanted to join the force that there were 12,000 volunteering their time as nurses. “ Government recognized the women power reserve and began to recruit Propaganda posters targeted young females.”(WW1 Patriotism, Politics, and Women) Even though many women had been lured in by Propaganda to become nurses, some women were able to become yeomen aboard the Navy ships. “This was the only branch of the armed forces as for women.” (WW1 Patriotism, Politics and Women) Women were able to support their country in any means possible. This allowed them to gain the ability to show men that they were able to do the work as men. This also allowed women to step outside their boundaries of their work experience. Women outside the war took on the responsibilities of men’s work. Women had been accustomed to working in the comfort of their own homes, but women had stepped up to the plate to take the jobs in factories.

However, even though women had taken the factory jobs they accepted the jobs they did around the house. “Most of women’s work was confined to tasks that fit within their idealized roles as mothers nursing troops, sewing bandages or conserving food” (WW1 Patriotism, Politics, and Women) Women had also worked as teachers, it had got to the point where male gender had became outnumbered by women. “Women had begun to work as public school teachers but as gender balance shifted salaries changed.” (WW1 Patriotism, Politics and women) As women outnumbered men, women had less pay. Although it was not fair, women still had positive attitudes and were starting to feel equal to men. Women also took jobs that men had in the factories. As the men had fought in the war women had to set their responsibilities to pick up the men’s place. Women’s roles dramatically changed and gave them a voice to be heard.

Women’s changing roles in the 1920’s positively changed the women to achieve responsibilities and to justify that they are same as men. Women’s fashion in the 1920’s dramatically changed to a more masculine risqué look. The nineteenth amendment had passed and allowed women the right to vote and women began to stretch their political patriotism. They no longer felt the burden of being second class citizens. Also women who wanted to show their patriotism applied to be in the position as a nurse. They also took the jobs of men who were fighting in the war. Women had taken a risk that showed men that they can do just as much as men can, and the outcome provided women with more opportunities.

Works cited
Nolan, Carol “Ladies Fashions of the 1920’s” Mens vintage Fashion by Carol Nolan 1999-2008 North Carolinians and the Great War “WW1 Patriotism, Politics and Women” (2002)

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