Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll: American Youth Challenge Sexual Stereotypes

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The sex, the Drugs, The rock and roll: American youth challenging sexual stereotypes

During the 1920s, some Americans—especially young college students—challenged traditional notions of proper behaviour. Encouraged by the decade’s prosperity, young people threw parties, drank illegal liquor, and danced new, sexually suggestive steps at jazz clubs. The 1920s saw a restless culture, spearheaded by America’s youth rebelling against the moral restrictions of past generations. After decades where a children directly married and entered adulthood the 1920s saw an emergence of a new group of people who were willing to push social norms, rebel against strict conservative values of their parents and shape culturally a relatively new society. The emergence of a youth culture was possible because of the rapid growth of sex, drugs and rock and roll; a time where conservative ideologies were imposed on liberal minds and a new rebellious youth society was born.

The Sex:
The flapper, one of the symbols of the 1920s, a new term used to describe a new group of young women who wore excessive makeup, drank, treated sex in a causal manner, smoke, drove automobiles and amongst everything discarded social and sexual norms. The typical flapper look was tomboyish and flamboyant: short bobbed hair; knee-length, fringed skirts, draping necklaces; and rolled stockings (Meyerowitz, 1275). The flapper’s behaviour was considered outlandish at the time, as it redefined women’s roles in society. These women began working outside of the home, thus challenging women’s traditional societal roles; they advocated for women’s rights and behaved in many circumstances like men. Although few women actually fit this image, it was used widely in journalism and advertising to represent the rebelliousness of the period. The flapper was portrayed in many Hollywood films and this new independent women attempted to empower other women to do the same. The introduction of flappers into daily life through media allowed for Americans to be introduced to more liberal ways of thinking which allowed for the beginnings of the sexual revolution. Although all women were drawn to the rebellious ways of the flapper, many young urbanized women clung on to this new style of dress and behaviour and further questioned American social norms about sex and the role of women outside of the home. In addition with new social thinking and activities came new social conventions. Most prominently among the youth of the 1920s, sex became far less taboo than it had been previously. The sexual revolution was a social outlook that challenged traditional codes of behavior which related to sexuality and relationships between women and men. This revolution took place throughout the western world especially in the United States from the 1920s until the mid 1970s. Many of the changes brought about through the sexual revolution developed into new mainstream codes of sexual behavior. More and more of Americas youth both males and females alike were adopting these new sexual norms which were depicted in films and advertisements, this led to an increase in pre-marital sex and the introduction of casual dating into society. This increase in sex amongst non-married youth led naturally to the promotion of birth control, first with the condom, and secondly the birth control pill introduced in 1960 which allowed for women for the first time to choose if and when they wanted to become mothers (Tice, 153). These new methods of birth control brought with it changing ideas about women; female sexuality was less suppressed, skirt hems were worn higher, and makeup became more common. This change from a more conservative representation of women and men into a more risqué depiction demonstrates a change in a societal and cultural outlook of what is acceptable. Jumping on this new more liberated bandwagon many companies depicted the new social norms in their advertisements Sex was more openly discussed and...
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