Nothing New Under the Sun

by Denise

Is there really anything new under the sun?  The Preacher would tell us “No.”  From complaints about shamelessness to frumpiness in women, I think we’ve seen it all before.  Here’s a perspective on the ills of the young women who came of age in the early 1920s:

flappersThoughtful-minded people have deplored the chaotic conditions which came as an aftermath of the Great War.  In no respect were these conditions more deplorable than as they found expression the ‘flapper,’ with her seeming disregard of all the social conventions that her elders had held sacred.  She was the target for anathema, ridicule and reprehension from press, pulpit and private individuals.  Her flippancy, her immodesty of speech, dress and deportment, her sacrilegious and supercilious disrespect have all been decried, and yet—

There is more than room for doubt that the average girl of today is different at heart from her mother at sixteen to twenty-odd.  Her flippancy and seeming immodesty is mostly pose—the result of wrong teaching or wrong thinking.  Wrong thinking, arising from the cataclysmic overturning of conventions by experiences growing out of the Great War—wrong thinking, resulting from the positive urge of wrong teaching, upon the one hand, and the absence of positive instructions in the right way upon the other—these and not anything inherent in the modern girl herself, are principally to blame for whatever is repulsive in the social atmosphere of the day.  In her heart of hearts, the ‘flapper’ is as sweetly feminine as was her predecessor of a generation ago.  In her heart she is quite as clean, quite as lovable and desirous of being really loved.

And then—there is the modest girl who does not know how to use her own powers.  A hint here, a caution there—and this demure little wren is transformed into a bewitching mocking-bird, luxuriating in the sunshine of popular favor because she has attained the ability to be her real self and to let it be seen that she is. 

[This book] points out, in no uncertain terms, how the superficial errors of the generation may be avoided.  It tells how the real attractiveness of genuine womanhood may be cultivated and expressed.

Fascinating Womanhood (note: *not* Hannah Andelin’s book)–Harvard University – Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America / Fascinating womanhood, or, The art of attracting men. St. Louis : Psychology
Press, c1922