Book: Flappers and The New American Woman / Summary

By: Sara R.

BOOK: FLAPPERS AND THE NEW AMERICAN WOMAN.

Summary

She did not have a college Education or a career as a professional woman. She was a New American Woman: she voted.

Women should think for themselves.

Hard working and independent.

She needed the time for herself.

How did the popular media of the past portray women? and Twentieth Century?

You discover more about your grandmother. But, throughout the twentieth Century, media images- wether fact or fiction, stereotypical or sensationalised-influenced women's perception of themselves. But the influence was not always blind acceptance. Many women rebelled against the images society had painted for them. You, -not society- holds the paintbrush that creates the person you become.

ARMISTICE DAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1918: American women danced in the streets during the celebration marking the end of World War I. Young ladies did not behave so wildly in public. If you were a young woman living in the USA, surely you would have joined the celebration. People all over the Globe were celebrating the Armistice day. For one day, the world truly packed up its troubles and smiled. People wanted to forget the horrors of sniper’s bullets, whistling bombs and poisonous mustard gas.

ü You would have pulled on your wool stockings and buttoned your boots.

ü You would have pinned up your hair, your hair was long because short hair was immoral and shocking.

ü You would have put on a hat and gloves, and your skirt would have hidden all but your boot-covered ankles.

ü You would have laughed and paraded through the streets with everyone else. The cold air would rouge your cheeks, for a proper young lady did not wear make up or paint her lips.

BEHAVIOR OF WOMEN IN 1918.

  • Women were the guardians of morality
  • Expected to act accordingly
  • Young girls must look forward innocence
  • They must allow no men to kiss them.
  • There were no computers, TV, or radios in 1918 to confirm the news. Official information came over the telegraph wires to government offices and news agencies.
  • There were no automobiles, mobs blocked the passage of automobiles and horse-drawn wagons. There were no traffic lights in 1918.
  • War Ends; Germany Surrenders; Armistice Signed. Destroyed much of Europe, millions of people died, including one hundred thousand U.S.soldiers. Signed Peace Treaty.

MODERNISM AND MASS ADVERTISING: CHANGES

USA was changing the way the country worked and played.

New inventions such as: the wireless radiophone, would change communication. More families purchased telephones and automobiles. Electricity illuminated city streets. “The world could never return to the way life had been before the killing and the maiming of so many men”.

In the new Decade women:

ü Would experience new freedoms: right to vote

ü How they dress and wore their hair.

ü Young women’s attitudes about dating and marriage changed. –Their behavior.

CHANGES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY:

ü The advent of electricity

ü Kitchen appliances

ü The automobile

ü Leisure time: Games- Bridge and maj-jongg (Vogue)

ü Magazines

THE FLAPPER: Woman of the twentieth Century. – Popular culture changed the way the world perceived them; appearing in: advertisements, books, film, radio, newspapers, and magazines.

ü Cut her hair

ü Slipped into a shapeless dress

ü Danced all night

ü She appeared on the athletic field and in the workplace and made headlines for achievements.

CHAPTER ONE: MODERN GIRLS AND THE MEDIA.

Minnie Sayre: Taught her daughters the “no-lady” rules that she herself had learned as a girl.

ü No lady left the house without every button on her gloves fastened

ü No lady sat with ler limbs crossed

Zelda Sayre: a modern woman. She knew what she wanted. Before she settled down to become a society wife and mother, she intended to have some fun. She laughed at her mother’s old fashioned ideas. Zelda thought of herself as a modern girl.

ü Young men called on her but they did not walk up the steps and knock on the door. They arrived in automobiles and pressed on the horn

ü Sayre wore gloves-unbottoned

ü Each partner waited for his turn to be her dancing partner. Handsome partner: F. Scott Fitzgerald

AMONG THE NO-LADY RULES WE CAN MENTION:

ü No lady pursues a man. The man must pursue the lady.

ü Women were ‘catlike’ and may do a little stalking.

ü A young lady did not kiss a young man unless they were engaged to be married

THE OUTCAST AND THE ORDINARY PEOPLE. – MARGARET MEAD.

-Her parents read books of philosophy. Their parents were professors. Her family was different from other families. – Her mother called them: ordinary people. Her mother believed in giving money to worhy causes. Her motto was: “do good because it is right to do good”.

Ordinary people: Let their children chew gum, read girls and boys books, drink ice cream sodas, and go to Coney Island”.

Margaret’s mother had modern ideas. She thought that:

- A woman should be educated

- Should have a career

- Not be dependent on a husband for living

Autumn 1919, Margaret left her home and became interested in issues of her interest. She attended Depauw University in Indiana in order to study things that “mattered”. –After a year she abandoned that University - because she felt unhappy- and, enrolled at Barnard College in New York. -She found the intellectual excitement she had craved- Once there, she realised that female students were more familiarized with social issues and social relationships. – The characteristics of ‘ordinary people’. Margaret wanted to have fun, make friends but mostable she was anger for knowledge.

These females wore:

- Raccoon coats

- Jumped up and down at football games

- Went to sorority parties

Margaret attended a rushing party once she arrived on Campus. ‘It was a dreadful experience but she was quite proud of it’.

MEAD’S PERSONALITY:

- An outsider

- Being rejected form society helped her to see more clearly the person she did not want to become

- She was a modern girl – with interests in knowledge

- She became an anthropologist and she started to mingle with real people.

CONNEY ISLAND ON A SUMMER DAY.

Ø Conney Island offered hours of fun.

Ø Conney Island was a cheap pleasure for cheap people.

Ø Coney Island was a magical place.

Ø In 1920, if a woman’s bathing costume did not include a skirt or pantaloons, the police would remove her from the beach.

MARGARET’S TRAVEL

ü Mead travelled to the remote Pacific Islands of Samoa in order to study family life there. -Under the dangers of cannibalism and tropical diseases-.

ü For a woman travelling to these Islands was shocking during these times.

ü In 1925, the book she wrote about challenge society’s understanding of youth and culture made her a world-famous social scientist.

THE BROOKLYN BONFIRE AND THE SILVER SCREEN

ü Not all modern girls were from middle-class families or upper-crust society as some were poor. -Many of them worked long hours in factories, dime stores or laundries because of they had not enough income as they depended on their families in order to survive-.

THE CASE OF CLARA BOW

  • Clara’s childhood was bleak
  • Her mother suffered from mental illness
  • Her father was alcoholic and, he sometimes beat Clara
  • Clara saved every penny to return to the world of the silverscreen
  • Mary Pickford was her favorite actress
  • Clara wanted to be a Star though her mother repressed her telling that: “she was not pretty or clever enough to be a success at anything and that her red hair was too red”. -Too red to be attractive-
  • Clara was a diva : a temperamental and attractive woman.
  • Bow had sex appeal, but, in those times, it was a shocking term and she was called: ‘it girl’.

THE DECLINE OF CLARA BOW’S CAREER.

  • The tabloids were cruel because headlines revealed details of her private life.
  • She had multiple love affairs, she gambled and lost thousands of dollars. She also drank.
  • In 1931, Time reported that Clara Bow had suffered a nervous breakdown. She terminated her contract with the movie studio.
  • Clara Bow’s silver star had fallen.

THE ORIGINAL RADIO GIRLS.

ü U.S. homes - The wireless radiophone.

ü Vaughn Deleath who was a singer earned the nickname: the Original Radio Girl. She was the first Lady of Radio.

ü People started to build their radio sets using their knowledge and mathematics and carpentry.

ü Eunice Randall was the first woman to be an announcer and an engineer. At the age of nineteen, she was broadcasting on 1XE. - A Campus in Boston-. From late 1921 through 1923, she had a sponsored program where she read stories to children.

LUCILLE’S NEW NAME

  • Clara decided that the readers would decide her new screen name.
  • The name chosen was Joan Crawford. She portrayed showgirls in the big city who aspired to marry a man with money.
  • Thousand of women imitated Clara Bow. They copied her short hairstyle with cheek curls. They rimmed their eyes with dark kohl makeup. They learned how to make her Cupid’s bow lips: paint the lips with white make up, dip a thumb in a cake of red paint, and then press two thumbprints on the upper lip and one thumbprint below.

WOMEN MAKE NEWS IN 1929: THE TEENAGE AVIATRIX

ü The most famous woman pilot was Amelia Earhart. She had short, curly hair and wore pants and a leather jacket when flying.

ü Elinor Smith was fifteen when she flew solo for her first time. At sixteen, she became the youngest woman to earn her pilot’s license. On January 20, 1929, she intented to fly eighteen hours nonstop, circling New York City.

ü Doors of opportunity opened for women. Many of them took jobs as writers and announcers. Even, they introduced to work with the radio transmitters. The radio engineers used special effects.

THE LITERARY LADIES

ü In 1921, Edith Wharton was the first woman novelist to win literature’s coveted Pulitzer Prize. She was awarded for fiction in the 1920’s

ü They followed the no-lady rules.

ü Modern men and women would not make the same mistakes as their parents or grandparents had. They would not sacrifice love for social acceptance.

ü She had grown up with the Gullah people she had grown up. For her: “she has lived with the negroes and they are her friends”. The way she represented her characters was in a very sympathetic and realistic way.

ü Young women felt extraordinarily free. They could marry a man if they choose to do so. Even, they could postpone a marriage while they did other things.

ü Birthrate was dropping and women entering the professions. The so-called spinsters were enjoying their freedom. They no longer sat home alone and sewed. They were out and about and happy.

HAPPY HOUSEWIVES AND DELICATE WOMEN.

ü Advertisements suggested women’s greatest achievements were a contended husband, clean children, and delicacy in all matters of personal grooming.

ONE OF THE SOCIAL ISSUES OF THE 1920’S

ü Why women worked and what they might do with the money they earned? – Was one of the concerning topics.

ü During the Great War, men left their jobs on farms, in factories, and in offices to become soldiers. Women took their place:

  1. They plowed
  2. They spun fabric
  3. They sat at desks
  4. They answered telephones
  5. They took dictation
  6. They figured costs and expenses

After the War ended, one in every four women in the U.S.A. worked outside home. Most women held traditionally “feminine jobs”. They worked as:

  1. Housemaids
  2. Cooks
  3. Secretaries
  4. Nurses
  5. Law
  6. Science
  7. Business

In 1920, the U.S. Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment where women had the right to vote. The main mission was to establish standards and to recommend changes so that women could improve their working conditions. The main work of these women was working in factories long and repetitive hours. –Thus, their health was in danger due to the hard working conditions.