• Category: History
  • Words: 1983
  • Grade: 7
In America's first century of existence, women were vital to the survival of the colonies; however, they were not equal to men. Women struggled to gain the same economic and political opportunities as men over the next centuries. Even during the earlier years prior to World War I, women were not entitled to the same opportunities given to men. Since many American soldiers fought in World War I, women were needed to fill the void left by the men. Thus, women had become exposed to a new way of living and thinking. "The Roaring Twenties dawned with the knowledge that World War I, the "˜war to end all wars,' had finally ended." However, women continued laboring in the workforce. The Roaring Twenties has set the foundation to the revolution for changes in women's fashion, opportunities, and perceptions for the 20th century.
It took over a century of movements for women to gain their rights and equality. Before the 20th century, women were not allowed ownership of personal and real estate, control and guardianship of their children, and wages earned; however, they were given to their husbands. Women had absolutely no rights. They were expected solely to bake, cook, wash sew, and care for the babies like housewives. Very few girls were allowed to receive and education and no colleges had admitted female students. Due to the many restrictions put upon women, heroines such as Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone spend most of their lives fighting for equal rights. Their fight has set the foundation for women rights in the 20th century.
In 1840, female activists such as Lucretia Mott, a Quaker, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton both became aroused when they were denied the entry at the London antislavery conference. So in 1848, Mott and Stanton organized a conference in New York with other women who felt the need to take an active interest in the need for several reform movements, such as abolition of slavery, prison reform, temperance cause and of course, the women's rights movement. During the convention, "Stanton read a "˜Declaration of Sentiments,' which in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence declared that "˜all men and women are created equal.'" Seneca Falls became the unveiling of the modern women's rights movement.
Soon after the Seneca Falls convention, many prominent females became widely involved in the women's rights movement. In 1868, when the issue of the 14th Amendment to revise the constitution in order to ensure that blacks had citizenship rights, suffragists or female activists replied angrily that the amendment had made no mention of women. However, "The abolitionists answered that the suffragists should defer their claims rather than endanger passage of the amendment." Therefore, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton established the National Women Suffrage Association in 1869, with intent to ensure a federal woman-suffrage law. By 1890, Stanton and Anthony group merged with the Lucy Stone and Henry Ward Beecher group, the American Women Suffrage Association developed in November of 1869 to finally form the National American Women Suffrage Association. For many years thereafter, the association worked to advance women's rights on both the state and federal levels. They conducted marches in front of the White House picketing for equality. Even though, many women were jailed for such riots they persistently and determinedly battled for their rights. These women campaign to improve the lives, increase the wages of working women, and expand employment opportunities for all women into the 20th century.
During the early 1920s, women had achieved many of the reforms fought for almost a century. For instance, shortly after World War I, women during the 1920s scored a climatic victory. On August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment, which stated "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," came into effect. Finally, after a century later, women had accomplished their ultimate goal in receiving the same opportunities provided to the men. However, the earlier 20's was just a start in the change of women's history.
"Prosperity "“ real, sustained, and widely shared "“ put much of the "˜roar' into the twenties." It was a time of rapid economic progress and change for the nation. Within the 1920s, individual income levels rose, businesses grew, and new buildings were constructed throughout the nation. Technological changes such as stock market trading and mass production greatly improved the nation's economic performances. Wages for American workers increased 26 percent between 1919 and 1929, while unemployment averaged a mere 2 percent. Thus, allowing Americans with increasing purchasing power and a higher standard of living. Other technological developments that enabled this kind of higher standard of living were timesaving electronic home devices such as washing machines, electric iron, and vacuum cleaners. These timesaving home devices allowed the average American family more leisure time. With all these new developments on the market and higher standard of living has allowed the economy to boom.
The booming 1920s, were also called the "Roaring Twenties," the "Jazz Age," and the "Dance Age." This period brought a time of fun, change, and prosperity in many Americans lives. The Roaring Twenties emphasized the American public on having fun and enjoying pastimes and entertainment in many different forms. In addition, the Roaring Twenties was the greatest era that has revolutionized the American women. Women had experienced a new form of independence during the war years, when they worked in war factories as the males were away fighting. Soon after the war, many women continued to work in factories. This has led to many other changes in the traditional roles as wives and mothers. Divorce rates increased, while the birth rate dropped in the 1920s. Most homes had less than 2 babies and families became more compassionate. Women enjoyed more leisure time and had become more independent.
        Life for women greatly differed, especially in the workforce since the 1920. Before 1920, many women either never worked outside the home or stopped working after they married. However, during the war, women stepped into the workforce and the trend of women working continued to increase after the war ended into the 1920s. Most women were hired as telephone operators in the growing telephone industry. As telephone operators, women were provided with lunch, free medical care, and benefits for their low wages. Prior to the 1920s, women were in jobs with poor sanitary conditions, where many were locked up in building of the sweatshops to later burn in factory fires. Women also began their first magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal and Harper's Monthly Magazine, which cultural and social attitudes spread in the 1920s. Women like Dorothy Dix wrote in newspapers and express her opinions. However, during the early centuries, women were not allowed to express their opinions. Women also had a great advantage in the political scene in the 20s rather than the previous years. By 1929, more than two hundred women held office in state legislatures. Women were also acknowledged in sports, arts, and aviation. Women's freedom of career opportunities had significantly increased after the 1920s.         
The loosening of restrictions on women was one of the most significant legacies of the 1920s. Women were finally allowed to vote in the 1920s. The booze-drinking, cigarette-smoking, knee-length dress-wearing flappers soon replaced the Neo-Classic Victorianism and the gentle Gibson Girls. Flappers broke many traditions. In the years before, women wore long skirts with layers of petticoats over tightly laced corset that produced and "hourglass' figure with wide hips and a narrow waist. However, flappers introduced the modern fashion of the mannish, tomboyish, skimpy and flamboyant flapper look for women. They wore very short bobbed hair, cloche hats, rolled stockings, skirts that were knee length, and shed one of the most restrictive garments even made "“the corset. Shockingly, they wore tight bathing suits that showed leg skin from the knee down "“ an unprecedented flaunting of flesh. These liberal young girls changed the views on courtship rituals, marriage, and child rearing. Parents worried about "petting parties," where eager youthful hands explored the nether regions of the opposite sex. The Flaming youth traditions of the 1920s struck the very foundations of tradition and morality however; women had become freer spoken due to such changes of appearance. Several individual women contributed to the changes for modern women.
Margaret Sanger, an American leader of the birth-control movement, is one such example of a woman who created these changes in the 1920s. The 1920s was a time of new moral changes for the American people. One such morality issue introduced by Margaret Sanger was the need for information concerning contraception. Margaret Sanger created the first American birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, New York and began publishing Birth Control Review, as well as organizing the first World Population Conference in 1927. Her movement has allowed today's women a greater opportunity in life to decide when they want to have babies. Margaret's fight for women's basic freedom was quite different from any other. She declared, "No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. Now woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother." Margaret's fight for birth control has changed the moralities of many women, and created yet another opportunity of choice for women during the 1920s.
During the Roaring Twenties, women have also set records just like their male counterparts. Amelia Earhart, an American aviator, was the first woman to make the crossing of the air with American pilots Wilmer Stultz and Louis Gordon. Amelia's flight proved many males wrong about the courage of women. Her courage during the 20s has inspired many women to reach for a goal. After her first flight experience, she later went and broke many other aviation records. Having achieved much more than broken records, Amelia strengthened the perception that women's strength and courage can be equal to a man's.
Women's perception has changed dramatically since the 1920s, the "˜Roaring Twenties." Clara Bow, an American motion-picture actress, also known as the "˜It" Girl greatly changed the perception of the lady. In 1927, Bow, chosen to star in "It" by Elinor Glyn's, became the quintessence of beauty, abandon, and sex appeal for moviegoers of 1920s. "It" soon was the 1920s slang for sex appeal. Clara Bow's trademark bobbed hair, bow mouth, and bangled and beaded flapper fashion defined the style of a decade. Hollywood's Clara Bow has created an ultimately different perception of the innocence young female girls into bodily images of beauty and sex appeal.
        The 1920s free spirited economy and fashion has allowed and shown women's freedom earned from the riots of the decades before. Women's freedom to this day has increased with opportunities. They have become more and more independent in today's society. The Roaring Twenties has been a great time of social and economic equality for women. It has represented a time of freedom in women's fashion, choice, and opportunity. The start of the Roaring Twenties has accepted women into many opportunities of fields in careers. Women, now, have the same choice as men and are treated equally in all areas. They have excelled in the political and economic scene. To this day the 19th amendment of 1920 still exists with many more advances for women to come. The history of the Roaring Twenties has been the greatest revolution in women's history.

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