1920 Flappers Took the Country by Storm – But Did They Ever Truly Go Away

Women of the Roaring Twenties had a lot in common with today’s millennials

By Linda Simon Smithsonian Magazine September 2017

Flappers Atop Chicago Hotel

She was the sexy ingénue, spending evenings in jazz clubs hazy with her cigarette smoke. She cavorted, wild and willful, in the stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who summed her up as “pretty, impudent, superbly assured, as worldly-wise, briefly-clad and ‘hard-berled’ as possible.”

The glamorous, shimmering flapper in her slinky dress and stylish bob seemed to emerge into American life out of nowhere after the First World War, but the term was already familiar by then. In 1890s Britain, in fact, “flapper” described a very young prostitute, and after the turn of the century, it was used on both sides of the Atlantic for cheeky, prepubescent girls whose long braids, the New York Times reported, “flapped in the wind.” Soon, a flapper was any girl or woman who defied convention—girls who balked at being chaperoned, suffragists, women aspiring to a career, and those, as the Boston Globe put it, “expert in the arts of allurement.”

Unlike their mothers and grandmothers, flappers tended to go to high school and even college, and they devoured new books featuring confident, fun-loving adolescent heroines who hiked and camped and solved mysteries. Flappers biked, played golf and tennis, and strove to emulate the flat-chested and hipless physiques of the adolescent boys whose freedom and lack of domestic responsibilities they envied.

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Molly Lambert’s Grandmother

My Grandmother, the Nazis, and the Shadow of the Olympics

by Molly Lambert Oct 1, 2017 The NewYorker

My (Molly Lambert) grandmother Margaret Bergmann was a born athlete. Self-taught and hyper-talented, she excelled at every sport she tried. She played sports with the boys, and they accepted her because she was by far the best athlete among them.  She did not think much about her Jewish identity until she was in her late teens, when the Nazis began their rise to power.

The Nazis

Suddenly signs reading “NO JEWS OR DOGS” were openly posted in windows. She was banned from athletic-training facilities she’d formerly had access to, and the kids at school began to beat up her younger brother for being Jewish. The family moved to London.

The 1936 Games were awarded to Weimar Germany, in 1931. Five years later, the National Socialist Party had seized full control of the German government, and Adolf Hitler inherited the ceremony. He was not initially sold on the Olympics—he thought that it was “an invention of Jews and Freemasons,” and that it was vulgar to let inferior races compete with the superior white one. But the German sports administrator Carl Diem convinced Hitler that the Olympics were a grand opportunity to showcase Nazi propaganda and demonstrate Germany’s growing power.

Recalled to Germany, Margaret Bergmann wanted to demonstrate that Jews were not inferior, and she wanted to win because she was the best high jumper alive. But, shortly before the Games, the Nazis dropped my grandmother from the roster, convinced that they no longer needed token Jewish athletes. Bergmann received a letter from the Nazis, telling her that she was being cut because she was not up to par—a lie, as scores from the time demonstrate. The letter was signed “Heil Hitler.”

Bergmann was furious that she would not be able to prove that she was the superior Jewish body that the Nazis did not believe existed. She was also glad to get out of Germany immediately.

She worked as a maid while trying to get her parents safely to New York, and she was thrilled when Jesse Owens won gold in Berlin: a black athlete, from her newly adopted country of America, proving that the Nazi ideology and all white supremacy are built on bullshit. She competed in America for a few years, winning American titles in the high jump and shot put. She wanted to train for the 1940 Olympics, but she chose to stop competing after the outbreak of the Second World War.

Margaret Bergman Lambert lived to a hundred and three years old, which is a great way to say “Fuck you” to Nazis.

The Shadow of the Olympics

During the 1984 Games, the Los Angeles Police Department, led by Chief Daryl Gates, swept neighborhoods and arrested hundreds of black and brown youth, “ostensibly to minimize gang crime during the Games.” This was a landmark moment in the militarization of American police.

Now ICE is conducting raids in Los Angeles. These raids began before Trump became President, but they have become bolder, more aggressively public.

There is a climate of fear now in Los Angeles: people are encouraged to snitch on their neighbors; families are separated by police in front of a school in broad daylight. I (Molly Lambert) think of the stories my grandmother told of being exiled from her own home town, a place she’d truly loved.

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Mantrap 1926

The above clip is from Mantrap a 1926 American black-and-white silent film based on the novel by Sinclair Lewis.

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951), better known as Sinclair Lewis, was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters.” His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. Source Wikipedia

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Book Review: Flappers

Lost Girls: The Invention of the Flapper by Linda Simon

With bobbed hair and flat chests Flapper Fanny and her friends were the scourge of polite society, says Ysenda Maxtone Graham

The ladies’ solo Charleston champion Miss Hardie in 1925
The ladies’ solo Charleston champion Miss Hardie in 1925GETTY IMAGES

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I (Ysenda Graham) always thought flappers were mainly a 1920s phenomenon. This book shows how wrong I was. As long ago as the 1890s the term flapper, already being used to mean “young prostitute”, came to be generalised and sanitised to describe thin, long-legged adolescent girls who were “flapping their butterfly wings”. By 1910 the flapper movement was going strong, much to the horror of mothers and the despair of clergymen. Read more.

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Flappers In Focus

The Economist 1843

BY KASSIA ST CLAIR | SEPTEMBER 28TH 2016

Asked what women wore during the 1920’s, most people would picture the same thing: a drop-waisted dress, low-heeled Mary Jane shoes, a long string of pearls and a headband decorated with a diadem and a curling feather.

Designers were making clothes that reflected profound social and cultural change. The corseted silhouette of Victorian and Edwardian times was already becoming looser before the first world war, as simpler fashions and the drive for women’s suffrage caught on. The war, which forced women to enter the workforce in greater numbers, sped up the revolution: long skirts and trailing sleeves were serious impediments around factory machinery or on the farm.

Once the war was over, many women returned to their old lives, but the spirit of emancipation persisted. Women were gradually gaining political as well as economic power: over-thirties were given the vote in 1919 in Britain, and with fiancés and husbands killed on the battlefields, would-be housewives were forced to become financially independent. Meanwhile, the crumbling of the old social order and the growth in the retail sector meant that women that might once have gone into domestic service became shop girls, living in cities with a disposable income to spend on travelling, make-up, clothes, fashion magazines and cinema tickets.

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Suffragettes

TULANE NEWS

Female presidential nominee a long time coming.

July 22, 2016 1:00 PM

by Mary Ann Travis mtravis@tulane.edu

Suffragettes petition for the right to vote in New York in 1917.

072216_suffragettes-3-1917_800

The first national election in which women voted was in November 1920, after the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women suffrage was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. (Library of Congress)

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1932 Olympics

Shanghai Daily July 16, 2016

Olympic Games Los Angeles 1932: Sport amid Great Depression

The 10th Olympic Games returned to the United States in 1932 after spending 28 years in Europe. However, the fact that the Great Depression was affecting the host country and the rest of the world, meant a significant reduction in the number of participating countries and athletes.

The Games of the X Olympiad, as it is officially known, were held in Los Angeles from July 30 to August 14 with 1,334 athletes (126 women) competing from 37 countries in 117 events. In comparison, in the previous Games in Amsterdam in 1928, 2,883 athletes participated from 46 countries.

There were great technical advances. For example, the so-called “photo-finish” appeared for the first time as photographs were taken in line with the finish line to establish the winner in a race. Also, a three-tiered podium was used for the first time during the awards ceremonies.

The length of these Games was also a novelty. The competitions were carried out over 16 days for the first time in the 20th century. Since then, every Summer Olympics have taken place over a period of 15 to 18 days.

Despite the absence of many countries and the soccer tournament being cancelled due to lack of sufficient teams, the Games’ competitive level increased. This is shown in the fact that 18 world records were matched or broken. Also, around 100,000 people attended the Opening Ceremony, a record number at the time.

Mildred “Babe” Didrikson from the United States, set world records in all three events that she participated in, winning the javelin throw and the 80 meters hurdle and coming second in the high jump. She was only 18-years-old.

File photo, Babe Didrikson Zaharias

File photo, Babe Didrikson Zaharias

 

Babe 3

 

Babe 2

Didrikson could have won more medals as she had qualified for five events but, at the time, the IOC only allowed women to compete in three individual events in athletics. Read more

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“Babe” Didrikson later in life

Babe 4

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1930s Feminist Quotes That Are Still Relevant Today

BUSTLE.com

by GEORGINA LAWTON
June 2, 2016 LIFESTYLE

When it comes to notable strides in feminism, the decade of the 1930s isn’t usually thought of as one of the most revolutionary periods of time; however, there are still a number of feminist quotes from the 1930s that were not only important at the time, but which are also still relevant today.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

– Eleanor Roosevelt

“Being a woman has only bothered me in climbing trees.”

Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins, U.S. Secretary of Labor, 1933-1945

“Men and women, here and now, are able to exert their wills; they are not pawns and puppets dancing on a string held by invisible hands. They can act, and think for themselves. Perhaps even they can influence other people’s thoughts and actions”

Virginia Woolfe

Virginia Woolf
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Flapper – Fashion 1920

REVEAL.CO.UK

Published Wednesday, May 4 2016, 12:15 BST  |  By Lara Martin  |

 The TOWIE star looked absolutely gorgeous as she attended a COLLECTION Cosmetics 1920s-inspired photocall on Wednesday (4 May).

Flapper 1

So beautiful!  Chloe channeled her inner 1920s goddess in a gold flapper dress and snakeskin print heels as she posed up a storm at Sofitel London for the glamorous photocall.

Flapper 2
The reality star is the ideal ambassador for a make-up range given firstly, how AMAZING she always looks! And secondly, she has her very own blog where she chats about her make-up favourites and beauty regime.

Flapper 3

Chloe – who recently returned from a girls’ holiday abroad with Jess Wright – has been looking fabulous in recent weeks, putting the heartache of the TOWIE series 17 finale behind her, where she split from long-time boyfriend Jake Hall.

Updating fans recently, she said: “I’ve heard a little bit [from Jake] on and off. The thing is, I know he will respect what I’m saying, but he does message and he does try but at the minute I just want to be on my own. I just want to try to get on with it by myself.” Read More.

 

The Pioneering Women of the BBC’s Early Years

BBC News May 2, 2016

The BBC has announced that it aims to get more women into positions of authority by 2020, but what was the situation in the early years of the organization? Dr. Kate Murphy has been researching the era for a new book.

The 1920s were a time of great contrasts for working women. On the one hand the vote had been won in 1918 (for those aged over 30) and the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1919 had removed most barriers to the professions.

On the other hand, there was entrenched discrimination such as unequal pay and enforced retirement on marriage – the Marriage Bar – in occupations such as teaching and the civil service. The adage “a woman’s place is in the home” was true for most women, once they were married.

BBC Radio Women

Newsreader Elizabeth Cowell listening to a recording of her voice at Maida Vale in 1936. Read more