Weird History

What Sex Was Like During The Great Depression

Coming on the heels of the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression brought on an entirely new — and economically worse — decade, heralding an end to the excesses of the flapper era and bringing about global hardship. Sex in the Great Depression was not immune to these sweeping lifestyle, social, and economic changes. With mass unemployment and a daily struggle to survive for many, everyday life during the Great Depression included fast and increasingly complex changes to the roles of men and women in society. Marriage declined, and families shrank — what with the difficulty of feeding mouths — but men and women found ways to express sexuality and expend their energy.

At the same time, liberal attitudes toward the issue that had grown during the '20s regressed during the '30s at the expense of anyone outside of the traditional norms. "Bedroom relations" in 1930s America both adapted and grasped onto tradition as people fought to control their surroundings in a time when control felt out of reach.