Girl of Today Emancipated

By Herman Bundesen, Chicago Commissioner of Health

The women of today have broken away from the old standards of girlhood training and the marked sex repression which has characterized earlier generations. Fortunately, few remain of the anemic, tightly corseted, skirt-trailing and easily fainting women.

When grandmother was a girl she wore many petticoats that swept the ground, and a corset so tight that a long breath was reserved for a bedroom exercise in the privacy of her room. The day is also gone when convention imposed one sort of education for the female and another for the male.

The modern girl began this movement when she cut off several inches from the bottom of her skirt and dared to show her ankle. But by this bold act she complied with a long felt hygienic need. It is strange how quickly the civilized world accepted this.

The blush of self-consciousness soon ceased, and the custom was found to be good, and so it became an accepted fact.

Then came a few bolder spirits who decided that a head of unwashed hair, difficult to manage, was not necessarily a “crowning glory” and so they began bobbing it. Some girls dared to don knickers, put on stout shoes and take long hikes.

Did these acts make them less womanly? Does bobbed hair make a woman a worse housewife or prospective mother? We do not think so.

These things do not imperil home making. Girls are becoming better wives.

All of these innovations simply mean the emancipation of girlhood and womanhood from the old idea that women must be one thing and men another. It simply means that woman is advancing to the place in which she rightly belongs; that she is capable of performing not only her own work, but can compete with her brother in the ordinary routine of life.

It means she is getting away from the clinging vine type and is less parasitical. Nor has this advancement made any difference in the morals of women. In fact, it is creating a higher plane of morality, because women are making a single standard of morality by their independence and forcing their brothers to understand that what is not good for the goose is not good for the gander.


Originally published in Experience, Volume 2, No. 2, June 1924.