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In the 1920s, genuine American jazz music began to gain popularity across the country. It started in New Orleans and then spread to Chicago, New York, and other locations around the nation. Jazz may be heard on the streets and in entertainment venues. During that Jazz era, a wide range of musicians made their debuts, among them Bessie Smith, Fletcher Henderson, and Louis Armstrong. The so-called "jazz age" featured not just jazz music but also jazz dance and fashion. Jazz significantly offered career opportunities for the minority groups like the women and the black males making them influential people in the society. As the jazz music evolves the society also began to to experience changes in terms of equality and freedom of women. This paper shall explore the issue of how Jazz music was very instrumental in women’s fight for freedom and equality and ways in which it helped these women express themselves confidently.
The 1920s was an amazing period in the American history but also with inconsistencies.
Whereas there was a boom in manufacturing industries and much prosperity in the nation, the status of the millions of the America was simply hat of abject destitution. Immigrations have led to a lot of racial profiling and favoritism (Rubio, Antonio and Isabel 17). Women also were often seen as the being inferior to men and were often discriminated against. This was the period that women empowered themselves and began to fight for their freedom. Hundreds of thousands of women carried out campaigns to acquire the right to vote. Women were expected to stay at home, raise kids, support their husbands and not have any position in the society. This period seem to bring in a sense of reawakening as women began to realize that they deserve better (Akiyoshi et al. 12). A generation of women rose up and revolted against the requirements from previous generations.
The current new women, as they were referred as the middle class women whose duties shifted to other directions, compared to the previous times. In 1918, there was the enactment of the 19th amendment. This was a major achievement for women, as they were allowed to vote. Despite this new development, women were still disadvantaged compared to their male counterparts. They were considered as unequal to men. Inequality was also present in the African American group as both males and females they were not allowed to vote. In spite of this the new women’s changed with regards to fashion, looks, and entertainment. They enjoy more vibrant lifestyle- they got to work; many attended colleges and could balance the new responsibilities with their domestic c responsibilities.
These women did not want to fit the traditional stereotype of woman again. The new women liberation was expressed through fashionable attire of the flappers’ style motivated from Jazz music and dances. The fashion sense was practical and easier on women who had jobs. Their appearance got sensational; they could adorn red lipstick and short stylish hairstyle called bobs. Women became more liberal; they could smoke, drink and dance at events (Gomez and Robert 4). Previously these activities for only for the males, however, women were now assertive now could voice their opinions. They became more challenged and revolted against the practices that were previously expected on them. These are the acts that marked independence which they graved- equality and freedom.
Jazz was very instrumental in women’s fight for freedom and it really helped them in the fights. Jazz was not only an outlet, but also women offered them opportunities in the business world and music sector. The new woman’s fashion sense showed how they felt when free and independent- it was daring and comfy. The woman liberation movement had aimed at bring freedom and equality so that women can be on equal with men in regards to power in the society along with the cultural interaction (Akiyoshi et al. 9). Flappers and Charleston dances from jazz craze has an impact on the appearance and the mindset of the new woman.
Flappers- the flapper technique got the timeless spirit of women who became deviant against the conventional dressing styles and way of conduct. The women wanted to take care of themselves instead of worrying on appeasing the men. The flappers depicted aspect of extravagance and sovereignty (Rubio, Antonio and Isabel 6). This style was now the current style for the middle class woman. It represented revealing attire, less garments, high heels and stockings. The flashy appearance was also achieved through sequins along with beads. Flappers had their hair in beautiful bob covered in stylish hats in the day. They wore conspicuous makeup. Jazz artists like Gertrude Rianey and Bessie Smith emerged during this period.
They adorn themselves in flapper style and they popularized this genre of music. Even though flapper style was presumed to reserved for women who never cared and entertainment performers who had to really struggle to be perceived seriously like man. Rainey and smith utilized their music to talk of women’s freedom and sovereignty by use of self-assured and sexual lyrics (Gomez and Robert 6). This flapper look expressed the songs attitude by conveying sexuality in fashion.
The Charlestone dance. This was an admired dance that came out from the Jazz period. The dance routine went with the wild and cheerful rhythm of Jazz. This dance was very different from the traditional elegant dances; it was sort of rebellion from the norms of dances that women would do. The Charleston got the casual spirit and was enjoyable. The flapper mode of dressing perfectly showed off how enjoyability and freedom of dancing the Charleston (Akiyoshi et al. 15). Flappers together with Charleston were the pathways for the new woman and created ways for the consumer business to market and broaden the consumer marketplace to the new woman of liberation and freedom. The women in the business world advertised their products towards the new woman. The consumer business entailed fashion, autos, technology and music.
The advertised items were stylish clothes, makeup, music and electronics associated with Jazz (Gomez and Robert 8). This jazz culture had an impact on the consumer society during this period particular for women who would afford to purchase what was liked. The products were marketed to the jazz society and for woman it implied freedom and self-dependence. There was also the aspect of clear and aggressive Content: in the music industry. Jazz created many opportunities for females in the music industry. It was a channel for liberation, sovereignty and self expression (Rubio, Antonio and Isabel 14). Smith’s and Raney lyrics were audacious and seductive, equivalent to the look of a new woman. They encouraged and rooted for freedom through expressive jazz music. Although black woman had minimal power, they talked of their craving for independence and equality via bold lyrics.
The subject of travelling was also employed to imply freedom. Women voyaged in their imaginations of a free world and showed those attitudes with skills and deep (Akiyoshi et al. 18). Although she was a black woman, Bessie smith was prominent and managed to sell numerous records to all audiences. Smith was successful in the entertainment sector and got wealth fats. Smith overlaid a pathway for women to be successful musically and follow careers in the entertainment sectors. Jazz was an inspiration to the Broadway’s initial musical show, showboat, in 1927. It accorded the females opportunities sin the theatre (Gomez and Robert 13). Because of the prominence of Jazz female Jazz artists, women got jobs in nightclubs and radios as broadcasters. Flapper looks fitted many industries women worked on as it targeted the young market. Jazz culture empowered women to gain their freedom, be empowered and got jobs in almost all industries.
Jazz music accorded women the opportunities only meant for man. Utilizing fashion along with music as a means of depicting sovereignty and deliverance, women had to work hard to see fruition of the those sentiments. The jazz culture allowed women the chance to break away from the suppressive practices of the society that oppresses and looks down on women. The changing times in Jazz music mirrored the culture for women need for freedom and liberation from the constraints of politics and customs. With the jazz music, equality and independence was achieved through assertive fashion sense and bold lyrics. At the moment, the fashion and music world still utilize such appeals to offer opportunities and eliminate degrading views of women. Musicians like Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Queen Latifa employs Sentimental Brands and show that women can be just as successful as men if not better.
Akiyoshi, Toshiko, et al. "Women in jazz."
Gomez, Jewelle, and Robert Philipson. T'ain't Nobody's Bizness: Queer Blues Divas of the 1920s. , 2016. Internet resource.
Rubio, Juan, Antonio Daniel, and Isabel María García Conesa. "The role of women in the roaring twenties." (2012).
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