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The Twenties Woman. Background. Historically, women have been considered intellectually inferior to men. They were seen as major sources of temptation and evil. Women were also considered naturally weaker than men. THE TWENTIES WOMAN.

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  • Historically, women have been considered intellectually inferior to men.
  • They were seen as major sources of temptation and evil.
  • Women were also considered naturally weaker than men
the twenties woman1

After the tumult of World War I, Americans were looking for a little fun in the 1920s.

Many women began to assert their independent, reject the values of the 19th century, and demand the same freedoms as men.

Chicago 1926

the flapper was born
THE FLAPPER was born
  • Challenged the traditional ways.
  • Revolution of manners and morals.
  • A Flapper was an emancipated young woman who embraced the new fashions and urban attitudes.
life of a flapper
Life of a Flapper

The life of a flapper was a lot of fun!

It consisted of constant partying.

Flappers smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol – all of which were unheard of if you were a woman!

They lived very reckless lives and would cling to their youth.

Flappers were the first of the women to flaunt their sexuality.

Their lifestyles were shown in the way that they dressed and danced.

  • These women challenged traditional American values.
    • Characteristics of a Flapper:
      • Short, bobbed hair
      • Short skirts
      • Listened to Jazz music
      • Wore makeup
      • Drank hard liquor
      • Smoked cigarettes
      • Treating sex in a more casual manner
      • Were opposed to the conventional social and sexual norms
the flapper look
The Flapper Look

Flappers wore heavy make up with scarlet lips and heavy eye make up. Before the flappers, only “loose” women wore make up.

Women tried to look more like men in the twenties. They would tightly wrap their chest with strips of cloth to flatten it. They were trying to look around the age of a 15 year old boy.

the flapper look1
The Flapper Look

Part Two

The 20s changed the way the world looked at hair styles. “The Bob” was the famous hair style that was everywhere in the 20’s.

Most women haircuts were very short in the back and 20 % longer in the front.

The Cloche Hat was a must during the day. This was a hat that fit snuggly over short hair and reached the eyebrows.

coco chanel
Coco Chanel

One of the first women to wear trousers, cut her hair and reject the corset was Coco Chanel. Probably the most influential woman in fashion of the 20th century, Coco Chanel did much to further the emancipation and freedom of women's fashion.

  • she designed flapper fashion
  • She propagated loose fitting clothes for women to be comfortable.
  • Chanel put women into slacks (pants)
  • Chanel little black dress “a Ford”, meaning it’s simplicity and it's potential for an enormous and long-lasting success


Dancing was a flappers favorite pastime. They would dance the Charleston, Black Bottom and the Shimmy.



Drinking was a favorite pastime of the flappers. Prohibition was in effect, and the women were breaking the law. Before this, only men would drink. The women were seen as “Giddy Flappers” due to drunkenness.

Many carried a flask, which was extremely unheard of – even for men!

new roles for women
  • Gave women a taste of the work world.
  • Low paying service occupations.
  • Made less money than men did doing the same jobs.
    • Examples of jobs:
      • Secretaries
      • Teachers
      • Telephone operators
      • Nurses
  • A handful of women broke the old stereotypes by doing work once reserved for men, such as flying airplanes, driving taxis, and drilling oil wells.
new roles for women1
  • Women were confined to traditional “feminine” fields in the work force.
  • The “new professional women” was the most vivid and widely publicized image in the 1920s.
    • But in reality, most middle class married women remained at home to care for their children.
  • By 1928, women were earning 39% of the college degrees given in the United States.
  • It had risen from the original 19% it was at the beginning of the century.
    • Example:
      • In 1926, Sarah Lawrence College was founded as an all girls school
the changing american family
  • American birthrates declined for several decades before the 1920s.
  • Trend continues in 1920s with development of birth control.
  • Margaret Sanger
    • Birth control activist
    • Founder of American Birth Control League
      • ie. Planned Parenthood

Margaret Sanger and other founders of the American Birth Control League - 1921

margaret sanger
Margaret Sanger
  • In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL)
    • Today known as Planned Parenthood
  • In 1923, she established the Clinical Research Bureau.
    • The first legal birth control clinic in the U.S.
  • Women were then able to control their own bodies.
  • This movement educated women about existing birth control methods.
  • A 1936, a Supreme Court decision declassified birth control information as obscene.
modern family emerges
  • Marriage was based on romantic love.
  • Women managed the household and finances.
  • Children were not considered laborers/ wage earners anymore.
    • Seen as developing children who needed nurturing and education
19 th amendment
19th Amendment

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

  • It was ratified on August 18th, 1920.
alice paul
Alice Paul
  • She was the head of National Women’s Party.
  • Felt that the 19th Amendment wasn’t enough.

(Pushed for an Equal Rights Amendment to be added to the constitution)

  • Double Standard-a set of principles granting greater sexual freedom to men than to women

January 11th, 1885- July 9th, 1977

the equal rights amendment era
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

“Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”

  • It was first introduced to Congress in 1923.
  • Made all forms of discrimination based on sex illegal.
  • Never passed in Congress.