Nobody knows how the word flapper entered the American slang, but the usage at first appeared right after the World War I. The classic image of the flapper is actually a stylish young party girl. They did activities which many found to be outrageous as per the era. Flappers smoked and drank alcohol in public, danced at night clubs, listened to jazz music and enjoyed sexual freedom, which socked the Victorian morality of the parents. These women were known for the energetic freedom embracing a life style that nobody imagined and were often considered to be downright dangerous. The origin of the flappers were perceived as being rooted in liberalism. A lot of young men did not return from World War I that left many women without enough husbands for going around. The horror of the war also convinced young people with the idea that, life is short and hence one should enjoy all that life would offer.
There are several factors which actually gave rise to the image of the flappers. During World War I, many women entered the workforce receiving much higher wages than those women who refused to sacrifice their peacetime. In 1920, the independence of women took another step forward with the approval of the 19th Amendment, providing right to the women to vote.
At that time the flapper dresses were famous or infamous- depending on the viewpoint. The flapper dresses were much more fashionable, shorter calf revealing length with plunging necks or lower neckline. Straight and slim silhouette were preferred. High heels shoes were used and lingerie replaced the corsets. High heels were worn and lingerie replaced the corsets. Dark makeups went with the dress and favoured shorter haircuts like bob. Flappers were found to be young, fast moving, and reckless, fat talking and unfazed by traditional taboos and conventions.
Importance of the rise of flappers
There had been a debate as from which etymology the word flapper belongs to. Some sources believe that the meaning usually refers to some young bird, who had just learned to fly for the first time and hence flaps its wings. Some of the sources indicates towards, more sinister meaning for the word. For example, flapper might have been come from the word teenage girls who have taken up prostitution as a profession. Despite the fact that the conduct of the flappers were not accepted in the society, yet the concept helped to redefine the role of women in the society and was also seen symbolically as an apparent advantage of the women empowerment. This made a difference at the workplace, as large number of women started working outside defying the traditional roles of women in the society of United States. Women who had blazed a trail in politics also faced barriers because of their genders .m Most of the female office goers worked on what were considered as women’s issues thus preventing them from acquiring too much power within the political parties. The concept of the flappers came as a symbolic representation of defying autonomy and autocracy over female representatives. Women had largely been facing discrimination in case of wages. While their not high, women joined new mass consumer culture. Flappers were often seen as defying the roles Victorian gender stereotyping of women that were traditional. The image of flapper was that of young women who danced at jazz night clubs, dated men indiscriminately, smoked and drank.
Flappers and the women became more clinked to the modern concepts like consumerism and personal choice while ridding themselves of the rigid and the older ideas about the roles and responsibilities of women. Flappers are often taken as reference while comparing traditional vs non-traditional. With this, flappers were largely regarded as the as a symbol of feminism and women empowerment. Flappers were indictors of a larger societal change, like the permission to vote. Apart from its advantages, there were other drawbacks like there were critics among women, who believed that flappers were not really involved in politics. The Suffragettes, who are particularly the old who had actually worked or fought for the betterment of women, started to look down upon the flappers and dismiss their ideals an considered them to be superficial. Some event went to the extent that flapper even should not be given the right to vote.
Despite of the popularity of the flappers life style during the 1920s, the newly found female liberalism did not last long enough due to the harsh realities of the society as well as the looming economic crisis of the country. The great Depression of 1930 and the Wall Street Crash snuffed out the concept of flappers completely.
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