Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The 1920s

*Disclaimer: Ok. When I was developping my research question for this essay back in 10th grade, I figured that the changes in fashion would, of course, have had some effect of its society and made it part of my research question. Well, after all of my extensive research, I'm not so sure it really did but I still had to answer that part of my question. As a result, this next section isn't that great. Just letting you know!
Fashion's Effect on 1920s Culture
              The groundbreaking new fashions of the 1920s, of course, did not emerge quietly in a socety that had known nothing but modesty since its puritan beginnings. Although most young women worshopped the new fashions (Latham 32), a good portion of the rest of America saw them as scandalous and immoral. William Jennings Bryan, former Secretary of State and three time presidential nominee, believed that America's modernism, which reflected heavily in women's dress, would erode America's faith (Leinwand 217). One woman, Mrs. John B. Henderson, wrote, "'The World War left us with our sense of values gone and our moral stamina weakened...the girls are shameless in dress and conduct alike,'" (Gourley 70). The new fashions reflected the modern times and, in turn, lead to growing strength within conservative America.
i. The Ku Klux Klan
              The Ku Klux Klan was "one of the largest and most politically powerful raqcist, right-wing movements in U.S. history," (Blee 2). The Klan was "antiforeign, anti-Catholic, antiblack, anti-Jewish, antipacifist, anti-Communist, anti-internationalist, antievolutionist, antibootlegger, antigambling, anti-adultery, and anti-birth short...[it was] against many of the forces of diversity and modernity that were transforming American culture," (Bailey, Cohen, and Kennedy 772).
              Onek of the most visible and prevalent forces of modernity in the 1920s were women's fashions. The new clothes reflected the modern role women had egun to hold. It reflected the fact that they now had growing power in the world. This new power and independency carried over into the more liberating clothes of the 1920s. Further, the bare skin and heavy makeup "emulated...a more worldly, sexually charged adolescence" (Drowne and Huber 99), reflecting the new sexual frankness of American youth due to the theories of Dr. Sigmund Freud (Bailey, Cohen, and Kennedy 790).
          This outraged conservative America, leading to such strong conservative foreces as the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan saw themselves as "guardian[s] of the purity of Christian women," (Miller, Nathan 144). This guarding of the Christian woman could have created a number of the Klan's prejudices, including African Americans, whose influence was discussed previously, progressive politicians who would tolerate such public immodesty (unlike others who made legal restrictions on how high a skirt could be or how low a collar (Gourley 68)), and immigrants whose foreign influence had had a significant hand in creating the problem.

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