Fritzi over at MoviesSilently had a fantastic idea:
I mentioned #NationalFlapperDay. We have days celebrating fast food, pirate talk and assorted pets but what about the spirit of the Roaring Twenties? On November 16, we invite you to join us in indulging in everything that is the cat’s meow.
Could I ever resist that? You bet I couldn’t!
Who is a flapper?
First off, let’s make this straight: who is a flapper?
Meriam-Webster Dictionary: a young woman in the 1920s who dressed and behaved in a way that was considered very modern
Oxford Dictionary: (in the 1920s) a fashionable young woman intent on enjoying herself and flouting conventional standards of behaviour
MacMillan Dictionary: a young woman in the 1920s who had short hair, wore short dresses, and had a lot of fun at parties
But… is it just me, or you find this quite dismissive too?
Flappers weren’t just girls having fun, though this is undoubtedly what everyone, especially contemporaries, was making them out to do. Flapperhood was a social phenomenon, smaller than people normally think today (not all girls were flappers in the 1920s, quite the opposite) and still larger than we normally understand (but all girls wanted to be flappers in the 1920s).
The way this small group of young women behaved upset the whole of the Western world and changed the way women and men thought to themselves forever. Not because women acted wild, but because women thought they had every right to act as wild as men and men started to accept that.
Although only a small number of women had the time, the means, the occasion and the money to be a flapper, they managed to change the mental-habit of all women and gave a big shake to the mental-habit of most men.
Where does the name ‘flapper’ come from?
As it looks the case for many terms originated in the 1920s, nobody really knows where the name ‘flapper’ comes from.
The story you’ll find more often reported is this:
The term flapper originated in Great Britain, where there was a short fad among young women to wear rubber galoshes (an overshoe worn in the rain or snow) left open to flap when they walked. The name stuck, and throughout the United States and Europe flapper was the name given to liberated young women
But I recently came across a different take at it.
The real origin of the word likely comes from a fledgling – a young bird flapping its wings while learning to fly. By the 1890s the term was surfacing in England as a reference to high-spirited teenage girls. The word first appeared in print in the UK in 1903 in a story about college life by Desmond Coke called ‘Sandford of Merton’.
– Jonathan Wolfton’s Blog
This is a definition that I don’t see very often, but don’t you find it fascinating?
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LOVED this (including the video). And you’re right about the dismissiveness. It was so much more than girls just wanting to have fun, they were liberating themselves. Almost a hundred years ago – hard to believe.
This is something that comes up a lot in fiction set during the 1920s: a lot of authors seem to only get the fact that flappers liked to enjoy themselves and often completely misunderstand the concept of ‘sexual liberation’.
That’s a way to diminish what this social phenomenon truly was.
Brilliant as always, my young friend. Got me to thinking that maybe all, or virtually all, the societal changes were effected by women acting in concert, flappers, suffragettes, temperance societies, etc. Makes sense, I guess. When a man wants to change something, he goes to war to fix someone else’s society; eternally downtrodden women feel the need to change their own. And I’m so glad they did; I can’t imagine life with a with who couldn’t appreciate fun! Great work, and very thought provoking. More, please!
You know, when I was at school, I was tought that all revolutions were initiated by women. Because while men were concerned with politics and phylosophy, women were concerned with everyday living. When that became unsustainable, women were the firsts to demand for a chance.
Yeah, basically what you have said 😉
This is a fascinating post. I read history and politics at university but had only heard in the vaguest terms about Flappers. Thanks for this informative article.
Happy you found it informative. And thanks for stopping by, Kevin 🙂
Love it! What a great idea… did you dress up? I can certainly see why you are so captivated by this era!
I didn’t dress up, but I made myself my first 1920s Moon Manicure. I’m quite proud of it, too 🙂
Sara C. Snider
Those definitions *were* dismissive. Loved this article. Hooray for flappers! 😀
And thanks to Movies Silently for coming up with the idea 😉