Friday, March 19, 2010

Age of the Flapper

The older generation of suffragists were appalled, let alone the good folk of Middletown America. The flapper made her mark in this postwar and pre-Crash of ‘29 era, flouting convention, throwing caution to the wind, and, ultimately, rejecting in toto the confinements of a patriarchal society still oblivious to the 19th Amendment. There she was in the smoke-filled jazz club late at night, with cigarette in hand, gaily laughing in the company of men, a queen of dalliance neither quite urbane nor exactly meretricious, self-absorbed, and exuding a new kind of sexuality, a strange cocktail of boyishness and coquetry. She’s left behind that awful tight-laced corset, that torture device of men. For that matter, she’s done away with the bustles, wasp waists, layers of undergarments, and the archaic image of femininity as a domesticated breeding machine. No more restraining clothing. She hid her breasts, cut her hair short, and let her black skirt just hang from the shoulders. Bare arms, knee-high skirts, rolled-down stockings for the modern woman of the Roaring Twenties. But above all, Jazz, gotta love that Jazz!