The custom of dating in the 1920s
Closely associated with the rise of the flapper, the twenties gave rise to a frank, national discussion about sex. As early as 1913, the announced that the clock had tolled “Sex o’clock in America,” indicating a “Repeal of Reticence” about issues that had once been considered taboo.To be sure, these trends accelerated after World War I: surveys suggest that 14 percent of women born before 1900 engaged in pre-marital sex by the age of 25, while as many as 39 percent of women who came of age in the 1910s and 1920s lost their virginity before marriage.By 1929, American families spent over 20 percent of their household earnings on such items as phonographs, factory-made furniture, radios, electric appliances, automobiles, and “entertainment.” What people couldn’t afford, they borrowed.
Scott Fitzgerald and by silent film stars like Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, and Louise Brooks.The proliferation of advertising—alongside the maturation of the publishing, music, and film industries—exposed citizens to a new gospel of fun that was intimately associated with the purchase of goods and services. Overnight, the electric vacuum cleaner, the electric refrigerator and freezer, and the automatic washing machine became staples in middle-class homes.“Sell them their dreams,” a prominent ad-man intoned. At the dawn of the twentieth century, automobiles were still unreliable and scarce, but in the years just prior to World War I, pioneers like Ransom Olds, Henry Leland, and Henry Ford revolutionized design and production methods to make the car affordable and trustworthy.We think of the twenties as an era of liberation for women.Indeed, the decade gave rise to the flapper, described by as “a young girl, esp.
“Sell them what they longed for and hoped for and almost despaired of having. Sell them dreams—dreams of country clubs and proms and visions of what might happen if only. When the sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd interviewed high school students in Muncie, Indiana, in the mid-20s, they found that the most common sources of disagreement between teenagers and their parents were 1) “the number of times you go out on school nights during the week”; 2) “the hour you get in at night”; 3) “grades at school”; 4) “your spending money”; and 5) “use of the automobile.” Another pre-war technology that came of age in the twenties was film.