The 1920’s was a decade marked by essential changes economically, technologically, and politically. The world had just experienced the most important war in the history of our society, The World War I, where many Americans and Europeans had fought for their countries in the deadliest conflict of the human history. At the end of the war, the United States was left almost unharmed and experiencing great prosperity on the rise in cities and towns.
During those years, Americans owned their first cars, and traveling became a common activity. The invention of the radios seemed to bring the world closer to the Americans’ homes, and telephones kept families and friends connected. Rural farmers were migrating to the cities to receive a regular paycheck in the new factories. The United States had become the wealthiest country in the world. However, it is important to note that the 1920s were also marked by conflicts that influenced the lives of many people, and directly influenced the American Culture as we have known, it was the transition from the traditional period to the era of modernization.In most societies, the gender definition of a “real man” is one who has authority, who is the provider and the protector of the family.
When in the 1920’s first struggles of what are the appropriate roles and responsibilities of women and men start taking place, it seemed to pose a direct threat to the men’s sense of masculinity. Whatever their views, beliefs and situations, women in the twentieth century were all affected by the rise of Consumerism in America and were influenced by advertising campaigns via magazines, newspapers, the radio and the movies. Important decisions such as the 19th Amendment – passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920- which gave the women the right to vote, and the rise of a whole new concept, ‘The New Woman,’ broke the tradition of the older generation. The ‘New Woman,’ embraced new fashions, such as Coco Chanel, giving them personal freedom and new ideas that challenged the traditional role of women. Coco Chanel introduced a whole new concept in fashion, abandoning the restrictive Victorian styles. Corset looks were gradually disappearing and replaced with shorter, loser garments.
Women started wrapping their breasts to make them disappear. Besides that, they embraced shorter hairstyles, which symbolized the modern and independent woman at the time. As a result of the masculine trends, the progressive French woman of the decade was considered “la garçonne” which in French means “boy” with a feminine suffix. The Traditionalists, people who were against the new changes within the women in the society, feared that the ‘ New Morality’ was jeopardizing family values and the role of the stay at home mom.