Equality For Women In The 1920's

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The 1920’s brought a lot of equality for women, though much work still needed to be done. Before the year 1920, women could not even vote. While political equality was important during this era, there was also a huge focus placed on social equality of the sexes by feminists, called “social justice feminsts” during this time. During the twentieth century, there was a big shift in what was acceptable for woman to do, and they have more freedom, though many people still opposed it. By the 1920’s, women were openly drinking and smoking, education for women had advanced, and women actually had a larger role in the workforce, though professional careers were still somewhat elusive to them, just to name a few social improvements. In looking at the…show more content…
One article by Leah Epstein explained it well. “Chronic drinking meant chronic abuse by men toward their wives and children” (p.1). Instead of partaking in drinking with the males of the time, women were more concerned with stopping their husbands from drinking too much. However, when the “roaring twenties” began, speakeasies were introduced, which were created in order to sell alcohol during the Prohibition in the United Staes. Now people were still drinking, but women were joining in. Take for example the character of Lorelei Lee in Gentleman Prefer Blondes. She drinks with men and does not seem to care that it may be “taboo.” At one point she says, “I always tell [Dorothy] not to drink champagne out of a bottle on the deck of the ship as it lurches quite a lot” (Loos, p.34). Notice that Lorelei’s concern for Dorothy is not that it is “un-lady-like” to drink alcohol, but that she may spill it if she drinks it straight from the bottle. Along with drinking more, women began to smoke in public. In the book Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920’s, this is acknowledged when “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” go to a dinner party, where some of the younger women are smoking cigarettes, though they “probably puff their cigarettes self-consciously, even defiantly” (Allen, p. 10). Before 1920, it would seem as if it was unheard of for women to be drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes in public places.…show more content…
This had much to do with World War I, which found many women taking over jobs when men went to war in order to support their families. While they still were not in many business jobs, many women were employed as clerks, typists, teachers, and nurses. In the article “Cookbooks and Law Books: The Hidden History of Career Women in Twentieth Century America” it is said that many women did not work solely to support their families, but for “a measure of personal economic independence…or simply for the sociability of working with other women” (Stricker, pg.1). Clearly, the 1920’s brought a bit more economic freedom to women. However, this was not always the case for many women. On May 17th in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Lorelei writes of the women that Dorothy and she spot outside of the train. She writes, “We saw quite a lot of girls who seemed to be putting small size hay stacks onto large size hay stacks while their husbands seemed to sit at a table under quite a shady tree and drink beer” (Loos, 72). Lorelei and Dorothy thought this sight was so unusual, and got depressed at the thought that Mr. Eisman believed that this is what girls ought to be learning. So while many women were joining the work-force, it seems as though it was still an unusual occurrence to some. In Lorelei’s case, her job of choice (besides author) is to be a cinema star. However, being an actress was still looked down upon in the 1920’s.

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