Thursday, 9 February 2012

'A strange new creature called woman'

One of the most important aspects of the context in which the Pace case was discussed was the debate around women's roles.

As Adrian Bingham, in his excellent book Gender, Modernity and the Popular Press in Inter-War Britain, notes:
‘Flapper’ has often been described as ‘one of the defining words of the Twenties; equally pervasive was the visual image of modern femininity, slim, short-skirted with cropped hair. ... ‘In the old days,’ [an article from Newspaper World in August 1927] claimed, ‘a two-page account of a murder...was the great attraction; now it seems to be what some well-known man or woman thinks of the modern girl.’ ... ‘If a future chronicler were to study the files of our newspapers,’ speculated the novelist Rose Macaulay in 1925..., ‘he would get the impression that there had appeared at this time a strange new creature called woman who was receiving great attention from the public.’ (pp. 48-49)

Mrs. Pace, who was 38 at the time of her trial and idealised as a traditional wife and doting mother, hardly fit the image of the 'flapper': nonetheless, her presentation in the press was influenced by the discussions around the 'modern woman'.

That's a long story (to which I devote a whole chapter in the book).

However, as is well known, 1928 was the year in which women's voting rights were equalised with those of men.

There was a lot of discussion around the 'flapper vote', but I think my favourite contribution to it was the following advert, which appeared shortly before the 1929 general election, the first in which women could vote on equal terms as men:

Daily Herald, 20 May 1929, p. 3

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