Women in the 1920s displayed a wide range of themes, from wild progressivism to traditions of motherhood. On the progressive end of the spectrum were the rebellious flappers who pushed boundaries by wearing less clothing and acting in ways such as smoking cigarettes and dancing to the new jazz music. However many women did not fit this description. In the 1920s, more women than ever were attending college, but most were marrying right after college and settling into traditional lives of motherhood and marriage. Less women than before pursued careers after college. The range of progressivism was a continued theme of the 1920s and represents many cultural trends from the decade.
This drawing by Charles Dana Gibson demonstrates the courage and rebellious attitude of women in the 1920s as women began to emerge themselves into the workplace and into formerly "men's only" activities. Published in 1926, the drawing is entitled Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo.
The group of women known as flappers captured the idea of rebellion and reform during the 20s. The woman pictured here wears a typical headpiece that flappers would wear, but remained more traditional with a long jacket and dress. This modesty demonstrates the range of rebellion maintained by women during this time period.
This portrait, entitled Crider's father and mother, represents those women who maintained more traditional roles as housewives and mothers. The dress of the woman displays the modesty maintained by women who opposed the flappers. These women who remained at home and dressed appropriately compromised of many of the older women during the 1920s.
Socially, the 1920s were a decade full of progressivism and reform. Women dressed freely, acted as men did, went out and danced, all to express their rebellion and demonstrate their equality. However, this was met with opposition by many, particularly older people and men of religion. There were still many who believed women should remain in the home, and there were some women who did this. Politically, 1920 was a remarkably progressive year for women, as they received their suffrage after years of fighting for it. Women still faced disadvantages in the workplace, as only 4% of women held careers with a salary. Given these times of progression and times of obstacles, women, particularly young women, in the 1920s held their heads high and continued to fight for their equality - both socially and politically.
Politically, women in 1920 worked hard for their suffrage. Pictured here is a poster, like many others, in which women activists from New York claimed their rights for voting. The theme of equality listed on the poster represents the progressivism of women who deemed themselves equal to men throughout the entire decade.
Here, women display their intelligence and their need for suffrage in a poster aimed at the Senate. Their banner displays direct metaphors to Prussia, regarding current foreign affairs on self-governance. Their political reform is highly progressive, while their dress is more traditional, displaying, once again, the range of progressivism among women in the 1920s.
"I will keep my eye open for suitable occasions when I may be...influential in bringing about the result we both desire."
This 1918 letter from Woodrow Wilson approaches the topic of the President's work towards Woman Suffrage. The above quote displays President Wilson's motive of making Woman Suffrage a reality. His presidential influence would allow the Amendment for Woman Suffrage to pass shortly thereafter.
The 1920s can best be described as a time of balance between progressivism and traditionalism. This is especially true for women of the time period who experienced great reform socially, their ability to vote, yet also faced workplace inequality and lash back for their social rebellion. While some women, known as flappers, went out in minimal clothing to dance to jazz, others stayed home to tend to their homes and families. More women than ever were going to college, while less were pursuing careers. Women during this time inspired each other to fight for what it was they believed in, whether it be suffrage or social equality.