Yes. Yes she was a feminist—but not because the dress was too short or the shoes too high. Because the flapper wore the most revealing outfit, that of the dandy, the one where her legs were barely covered by trousers and one could just walk into a church and leave without the people seeing. This is what feminists meant.
This was also why in the 1970s so many women did not bother to dress as much. It was so common that some felt this was a betrayal of feminism. And many did feel that, because of this very, very small movement, women still felt invisible. In those days women didn’t have the strength to fight the patriarchy, so they would dress as though they had. Many women wanted to look like the rich people in the world, who seemed to be dressed as much as possible—and, to be fair to them, it was not a problem that the most famous people in the world all looked like them.
In today’s society, most women wear whatever the latest trend is. And it makes perfect sense that, for now at least, they have not gone as far as the flappers in the early days, since there are more dresses nowadays, from high waisted, long sleeves dresses to midriff tops. But in that era most women were never allowed to wear the clothes that the women of past generations wore, such as the dresses that had been worn by the dandy and the flappers, even if their skirts were more revealing than those of their own generation.
For most women of the 1930s and even the 1960s, this was simply an issue of style. For a young woman born in the 1980s, today’s feminism has become a sort of dress code that everyone is expected to adhere to. And this has created a situation of extreme inequality. For example, while my generation dresses more casually than my parents’ generation did, we do not actually live in a world where casual dress is considered so revolutionary. That is another thing that I have been working on as part of a project I have called Dressing Like the World, where I am raising the awareness of why it is that so many women dress so casually, why they need an actual dress code that takes into account their individual needs. The reality is it is very hard to find one. And you need to know why it is that you should dress in general. The reason most women dress so much casually is because there are so few dresses that they can actually wear. There are so
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