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Flappers

The most beautiful woman in films was the "It-girl," Clara Bow, whose brassy personality was a model for the flappers (1925), newly liberated women who made up their own rules about clothes (including short dresses and hair) and behavior. Females could afford to be more independent because the number of women with jobs increased by 25 percent in the 1920s. People called them wild, but flappers didn't care what people thought.

Example

Question: Who were the flappers in the 1920s?

Answer: The flappers were women who felt liberated to make up their own minds about appearance and behavior. Their style was short hair, short dresses, independence, and wild dancing.

Controversy over evolution

The idea of evolution scared a lot of conservative religious people who thought that it didn't fit with their idea of God. The state of Tennessee banned the teaching of evolution, but a young high-school football coach named John Scopes taught it anyway and landed in court in the Scopes Monkey Trial (1925).

William Haines

The most famous movie actor of 1925 was handsome William Haines, who lived openly with his gay lover. Pushed to cover up by the studios, the pair switched to interior decoration and lived together the rest of their lives, more than 50 years — in the words of Joan Crawford, "the happiest married couple in Hollywood." They decorated the houses of the stars, including Ronald Reagan's governor's mansion.

The trial starred famous defense attorney Clarence Darrow as Scopes' lawyer and former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan as the prosecutor. Bryan took the stand to explain why the Bible was always right, and Darrow made him look foolish. Even though the Scopes Trial didn't immediately repeal the law, it began to change the way most people thought, which eventually changed the law.

Laws against teaching evolution stayed around until the 1960s, when the Supreme Court ruled that such bans violate the First Amendment because their primary purpose is religious. Fundamentalists still try to get what they call "intelligent design" recognized in schools, but now they're trying to get into the classroom instead of keeping science out.

Example

Question: Who were the key attorneys in the Scopes Trial?

Answer: William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow.

 
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