Mother Not to Blame for Flapper’s Flapping (1922)
(From the New York Evening World – February 3, 1922)
“While Flappers Flap, Mothers Mourn”
Prof. Herman Horne, N.Y. University, Contradicts Representative Alice Robertson’s Statement “The Flapper Flaps Because Her Mother Flaps.”
By Fay Stevenson
“For one brief moment it seemed as if the flapper solution were settled once and for all – “The flapper flaps because her mother flaps.”
No less a person then Representative Alice Robertson of Oklahoma, the only woman in Congress, has just come forth with this statement.
“You can blame the flapper’s mother every time,” said Miss Robertson. “As the mothers flap, so flap the youngsters. Mother sets the pace and her daughter follows. While mother is flapping around at an afternoon tea or at a reception or bridge game daughter goes out flapping in an auto. It’s only natural.
“Let the mothers stay at home, then they would find that their daughters would come flapping home, flap into an apron and spend their out-of-school hours in a thoroughly wholesome way. But you can’t expect a young girl to stay home and knit when her mother is out playing cards or flapping around.”
Let us repeat – for one brief moment it all seemed clear – perfectly so.
With this idea fixed in our head and our teeth gritted against the flapperish mother who has brought such comment upon her little innocent daughter’s head, we trotted up to see Prof. Herman Horne of New York University. Prof. Horne panned the flapper pretty well the other day in an address to graduates of Washington Irving High School.
“A flapper is a person who prefers ignorance to the truth.
“A flapper has a conscience which does not bother her.”
Therefore we thought we would find out how clever Prof. Horne was at panning the flapper-mother.
But here is where we met our Waterloo.
Here is where Representative Alice Robertson’s “flapper-mother” solutions fell through.
“I do not agree with Miss Robertson at all,” declared Prof. Horne. “I know too many mothers of flappers.
“While flappers flap, mothers mourn.”
“But mothers, yes, mothers of fifty and grandmothers of seventy, flap around in low-cut blouses, skirts to their knees, and smoke cigarettes,” we persisted, still trying to defend the flapper.
Prof. Horne raised his eyebrows as he said “a few, perhaps, in New York City, but what of the mothers in the suburbs, of the mothers all around us in New Jersey, Brooklyn, Staten island and on the outskirts of all this city, and in the heart of it, too? No, no, I have met too many mothers of flappers to say that the mother leads in the flapping.
“Let me repeat, ‘While flappers flap, mothers mourn.’”
“The flapper is a sophisticated youngster who could tell her mother lots of things, but usually doesn’t.
“Mothers have changed but little with the changing times; flappers have outchanged the changing times.
“A mother is usually willing to listen; the flapper knows it already.
“Mothers like to help their daughters catch their beaus; the flapper catches hers all by herself.
“Mothers still believe in some form of oversight of adolescent girls, but flappers chaperone themselves.
“The American mother still rejects the intimacies of Lady Nicotine, whom the flapper makes her patron saint.
“Mothers much prefer their daughters should not know some of the seamy side of life, while flappers turn the garment of life inside out.”
After this outburst of philosophy we were convinced that the flapper is quite original in her own artistic, flapping way. After all, she is a problem and we must still keep on criticizing her. But she makes delicious copy and splendid models for magazine covers!
“The flapper movement is worldwide,” continued Prof. Horne. “In the new Germany it is known as the ‘Youth Movement.’ All over the world youth has declared war on the old customs and the old schools, but mothers are still conservative.
“Mothers still take slight comfort in the thought when flappers marry and become mothers they will cease to flap. But there is the disquieting thought that to the all-knowing flapper marriage does not mean motherhood.”
“You are hitting the flapper pretty hard,” we remarked.
“I am defending the flapper’s mother,” replied Prof. Horen. “You see, I know them both well, the flappers and the mothers. The modern mother is ready to play the game, the game of girlish pranks and catching a husband, but not to the flapping limit.”