The roaring 20s are upon us again and typically when we think of the 20s one major thought comes into mind, women’s fashion. The 1920s were a new age for women’s fashion, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is a good thing. Previous Edwardian fashions were kicked out the door as the Great War was over and people concluded it was a time for celebration. As hemlines got shorter and dresses become more loose fitting, so did morals. Dresses became a scandalous length in the 20s, typically reaching just below the knee. However, this wasn’t women’s downfall in society. That would be the next World War, which would end up being the downfall of modern femininity.
Over 16 million men served in World War 2, meaning men, the provider of the households, left their everyday jobs to go serve their country. This war was like no other with the institution of planes, bombs, and more developed weaponry. However, with all the men serving there was no one to keep producing these products. The American government created a ploy to get women out of the household and into the workforce, which was very uncommon for the time period. Rosie the Riveter was seen as a feminist icon, who inspired women to leave the home and join the war effort. There was one major thing standing in the way of this campaign and that was women’s fashion. Decadent dresses and high heeled shoes where not fit for the workplace and since they took on men’s jobs, it seemed most reasonable to take on their fashion choices as well. Women began to wear pants for everyday work throughout the war to aid in the physically demanding tasks of mechanics, plumbing, and other very hands on jobs.
As the war ended and men returned home, they expected their jobs back. However, women liked working in society and felt returning to their household duties would be a mundane lifestyle. This was the beginning of women’s downfall into the distorted idea of femininity we have adopted today. As it was (and still is today) the men’s duty to be the primary provider for the family, the notion of women staying in the workforce was obscene. Nonetheless women persisted on until they got what they desired. It became more socially acceptable for women to enter the workforce. This meant two things for American society; There would be a dramatic shift in traditional gender roles for the American people, and because of this, traditional femininity would descend into the dark abyss it is currently in.
As women continued to enter the workforce, the notion of adapting to be more like men came more into play. We can see this shown by the increase of pants and blazers women were adopting. The main issue with this is if we adopt the toxic idea of, “if men can do something why can’t women,” we quickly can fall into a dangerous state of mind. A perfect example of this is the ideas of men removing their hats for mass while women veil. Men remove their hats as a sign of respect for the Lord. This is where the courtesy of tipping the brim of a man’s hat towards a woman stems from. A man is to tip their hat towards a woman to show respect for her because women are sacred. In Corinthians it specifically says, “a woman who prays with her head uncovered brings shame upon her head,” and in ancient civilizations it was illegal for a woman to go out with her head uncovered because women were held to such a high standard of modesty.
As “women’s rights” became more prominent, so did the amount of skin shown in everyday life. The miniskirt was invented, along with the tube top and soon the “sexual revolution” started. We can recall from the apparitions at Fatima that Our Lady specifically stated to the three children that, “certain fashions would come into play which would offend our Lord greatly.” The hippie movement of the 1960s threw the idea of modesty out the door as an anti-Catholic mindset came into play. Bell bottom jeans, mini-skirts, tube tops, tights, and leggings completely took away the mystery of a woman’s body. These ideas have sadly stayed in place ever since. As a young woman I have noticed that you are more likely to be judged wearing a skirt that goes past your knees than to wear shorts that cover the same amount of skin a modern bathing suit would. This is a very disappointing revelation and disheartens me greatly. However, do not fret because when a woman dresses more feminine and modest, people are also more likely to be more helpful towards her and show her a greater amount of respect.
Men and women are created to be together in harmony. We are created differently, but still deserve the same amount of respect. A man is more apt to work on more physically demanding tasks, while women are typically more nurturing and more apt to raise and care for children. These are not flaws, these traits are gifts from God given to each gender for a specific purpose. Recently there has been a surge of young Catholics that are being called back to a more traditional lifestyle with renewed values of modesty and traditional gender roles. I believe this brings hope for the future generation who are straying away from the toxic ideology that our society has developed. We as Catholics must continue to fight against these ideas that have taken over our society and strive to reform the ideas of traditional femininity and masculinity in our culture.
The views of Guest Contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Called To Tradition.