One of the first symbols of an independent woman in history took the image of a flapper. I’m sure we can all picture the carefree, short dress, bobbed hair, bold, and free women of the 1920s. They were often referred to as “rowdy girls” who altered the expectations of a woman’s behavior from that point forward.
In a time where women had little control in any aspect of their lives, the sense of freedom symbolized by flappers was appealing to many women. These women were trying to escape the hours of strenuous workdays, frustrated by contributing wages to the family, and tired of the standard of taking orders from male figures.
The Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote, was ratified in 1920. Were women instantly independent then? No, they weren’t even close.
The 1950s is often symbolized by a picture of a housewife--one that would be ready whenever her husband came home to greet him, make his dinner, take care of the kids, and clean the house. A submissive role in the private sphere was still synonymous with the word woman.
In 2000, Destiny’s Child came out with a song called “Independent Woman” that held the number one spot on Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks. (Check out the song, if you don’t remember it—it’s quite a flashback!)
Do the lyrics in the song show how far we have come as women? Do we completely depend on ourselves now? Is this our ultimate reward for struggling and fighting for independence all these years?
Many argue women are naturally caring, sociable, multi-tasking, sympathetic, loving, and attentive to detail. If a woman chooses to stay home and have a family, she is not automatically submissive or dependent. Our society today keeps us in constant contact with others. We depend on others to grow our food, provide jobs for us, buy our products, and support our wants and needs.
Do we need to struggle for independence? And, is anyone ever completely independent, male or female, anyway?
Learn More: Picture and article on Flapper Skirts as Feminist Symbols