Women were the public face of Prohibition defiance, particularly the young, single, working girl known as a flapper, who bobbed her hair, wore short skirts, smoked cigarettes and flaunted her sexuality. Owed to the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose wife Zelda popularized the flapper style, Hollywood movies made fortunes with flapper films. At movie houses throughout the country, young girls mimicked the flapper styles, and flapper dresses could even be purchased from the Sears catalog.
This empowerment in culture for women led to a changed dating culture, one in which young men would pick up their dates in an automobile, much to the chagrin of their father, whose patriarchy was threatened by technology and cultural change. It also led to changes in sexual mores; with young people engaging in higher rates of premarital sex, albeit with the person they would marry. As liberating as many young women found “flapperdom,” once the depression hit in 1929, flapper lifestyles quickly were altered by the new austerity of the decade.
- What were some of the reasons why women were more liberated following World War I?
- What role do you think Prohibition may have played?
- Economic conditions were unusual during the 1920s, with a stock market bubble, followed by a crash in 1929. The Flapper movement coincided with the bubble. Why do you think that would be?
This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense American History eBook. Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for students and teachers. Click Here to download the Common Sense American History materials.
15, Feb. 2018, Flapper Girl [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from <google.com>.