The roaring twenties. A time of immense masculinity and pride for men.
With the conclusion of World War 1, there was an impeccable sense of patriotism fresh in the air. Many men finally returned home from the front lines in the early 20s. They came back to tearful families, supportive friends, and one heck of an economic boom.
This economic boom was brought on by the prosperity that followed post-war. The industries boomed from mass production and large upticks in consumerism. This, in turn, led to a good deal of manufacturing and production-related job growth.
Many of these jobs, and the culture of the men who worked them, drove the masculine culture shift of the 1920s.
Now, we can’t talk masculine or production without talking cars. Prior to the 1920s, cars were a luxury good. Only the wealthiest had them. But with the production boom, we broke those shackles and cars became mainstream.
(Note: You better learn how to drive stick shift)
Now these cars weren’t mass produced by machines like in our current generation. They were done by hard work, dedication, and a lot of sweat on an assembly line.
It wasn’t uncommon for men to work 10+ hour days 6 days a week to really get their paycheck up. The men of 1920s had a dedication to their families and their goals… unlike the common man today.
But these men didn’t complain. Because that work brought them food, security, and a chance for betterment. They trudged along knowing that they were supporting their family, society, and themselves.
This dedication came from a culture of masculinity. They strived to be the best provider for their families. The desire to be, well, a man.
You see, these men weren’t told to refrain from competition or from being aggressive. They were told to stride on in the face of hardship, to destroy the competition, and to lead the pack.
That’s what made the 1920s the era of mass masculinity.
And guess what? Sometimes it created problems. Sometimes these men faced hardships and confrontations.
But what makes them different from our generation—They didn’t back down. They held up. They fought back. And they did whatever they needed in order to be the best. To make sure their family was secure and always satisfied.
On the Battlefield
This was the generation that brought forth the ‘greatest generation’: The generation that fought in WW2. If we had the current generation raising those future warriors, well, we would have been pretty screwed. They’d probably wave white flags and sing hippy songs instead of fight.
They raised the greatest generation through strength and confidence. By being an example for their children to parallel. And by making damn sure they were in excellent physical condition. These traits should absolutely be emulated by modern men.
Speaking of physical condition, let’s talk about the men of 1920s views on weight.
Being overweight or obese was seen as unappreciative of your body in the 1920s. Typically, overweight or obese people would be put in posters/flyers to demonstrate what you should “not” look like.
There was no such thing as “healthy at every size” or “unrealistic expectations of beauty.’ Instead, it was ‘do some exercise, you fat piece of shit’.
You can see this through hundreds of the ads and descriptions of health products around this time period. And because of this societal implication, it worked wonders. Sadly, not long enough, though. Obesity rates have skyrocketed since the 1950s.
Men (and women) put a lot of emphasis on their appearance in the 1920s. They did not need to change societal and cultural feelings toward fat, they just lost some weight. And surprisingly, it worked. Nowadays, it’s called a “disease” and is regarded as a genetic inevitability.
However, genetics don’t change within such a small scope of time. If they could be fit, so can you. In short, it’s not your thyroid. It’s the 50 bottles of mountain dew. Go lift some weights and make your ancestors proud.
One unique aspect and one of my favorite allures of the 1920s is their insistence on building a functioning family. The Nuclear Family, as it’s so called.
The nuclear family would consist of a father and his dependents. This father would be in charge of making sure the family is a logical, functioning, social unit. Thus, if one child did not eat healthy or exercise, the father would get involved.
I wish we could see more of this in the modern ages. Nowadays, it’s perfectly fine to let your son or daughter become a slob and degrade their health. Before, that father would take charge and make sure his dependents didn’t ruin their health for decades to come.
So what exactly is the take-away from this? It’s simple. You need to call out people that are overweight in your family. The men of the 1920s were strong men. They espoused confidence. They did not care if it was “politically incorrect” to call out their children or family members for being fat.
They did so, out of care for them and the social unit the father created.
The dad builds the foundation of the family.
In the 1920s, it was a concrete foundation. In 2017, it’s sand.
Children need to be led by example. The 1920s men were a great example. Confident, pioneering, and caring. If they are raised by a man that eats 120 Twinkies every day, what life lesson do you think they will take away from that upbringing?
Hell, even the character that the fathers represented were astounding compared to modern day examples. A principle text of the 1920s declared that men believed being masculine was about “having the right character, honor, loyalty to the family, self-reliance, self-control, and a sense of duty”.
The ideals of self reliance and sense of duty should become a large take-away for modern day men.
You have a duty to yourself, your health. You have a duty to your family. And you have a duty to your culture. On the other hand, you don’t have a duty to paint your hair blue and parade around like a loser.
1920s men even had a masculine sense of fashion and dress.
It wasn’t uncommon for even shop workers or drivers to wear suits or other dress clothing. They would dress their children accordingly as well.
It was seen as a sense of pride to be proud of your appearance. Healthy, fit, in shape, and attractive to women.
We didn’t need to wear our pants around our knees or put on feminine clothing to be ‘cool’. Being ‘cool’ meant being successful and the successful men of the 1920s dressed like mob bosses.
Old school cool is clearly the best alternative to modern day ‘cool’.
Completely Merit Based
There was also no excuse for mediocrity. As the 1920s society was based around merit, you either proved your worth or you were thrown out. Part of proving that worth was dressing like a man, not a slob or a female.
1920s didn’t have a need for an ‘inclusive’ society. A society that bowed down to anyone and everyone at any time. The man had to prove his merit to advance at work, with women, or at home.
Do you think a woman of the 1920s would date a man that didn’t care about himself? Absolutely not. The community structure was still intact and she would have been looked down upon.
There were no excuses for un-manly behavior. You’re a father. You’re in charge. Act like it. This old generation understood it well.
Our men could take a lesson away from this. Stop acting like you’re entitled to anything. Stop acting like a whining baby if things don’t go your way. And most importantly, work to better yourself so when these bad things do happen, you have it controlled.
No one else can do this task for you.
Summary of The Men of 1920s
The 1920s was a time of strong masculinity. Men were held up by merit to be successful leaders at work and at home. The man of 1920s didn’t shy from confrontation, nor did he allow himself to be depraved of his health from obesity.
These are traits every man should adhere to.
If you’re looking to make yourself a better man, father, and husband, you may just want to look to their examples for guidance.
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