When flappers came in, they were the most educated people in society. They had been doing this on their own, even though they didn’t have all the tools of modern industries. They were independent. They were working. And they were also wearing the most provocative clothing at the time. And they were in the most public environment. They were making these very radical statements about themselves.
That’s why they were the most provocative, but also the most conservative. They had been able to take what they wanted without changing the meaning of the culture of the times.
You said a lot of this cultural change came about because the women who wore it, you saw them as an example to others, in other parts of the country.
It started to occur in England. In London, the women had moved from being “wicked,” all the way down to being “free.” They were being free to have their own personal life even without the permission of the Church. They could wear whatever they wanted, and what was the point of this restrictive social code for women?
There was no reason for a woman to get married. There were a lot of religious restrictions and they didn’t have the social pressure to get married. They were free to be themselves in a very important way.
The first flapper was Margery Kempe, a model who was 18 years old and was not very bright, but she really didn’t think, You know, this is freedom? She wore her hair in a bun from her shoulders down, she didn’t have a cap and she didn’t dress all that much like the girls in the Victorian period. What she didn’t know was that this was the beginning of these radical changes; that by doing this in the 1840s, they were creating a whole new social order in this country.
They were showing the first signs of women’s independence and of a free women’s movement.
In fact, you wrote a book that was titled, “The Women’s Movement in the 20th Century: A Historical Account.” I want to go through with you this period of social evolution. Is it important to think about the period in history as one that is a historical timeline?
If we look back to 1890 as this was happening, we find that a very remarkable thing was happening. The women started to get the rights that they were being denied in the Victorian era. That was the first time the laws were changing. Women were beginning to become equal with men and