Of course, Germany’s problems were only just beginning. Throughout the 1920s, the country’s finances became increasingly unstable, leading to mass inflation. Despite political and economic unrest, German women gained suffrage in 1918, and the Weimar Republic ushered in an era of somewhat greater gender equality. At least in the media, new images of liberated women began to appear (whether that portrayal was a reality is still up for debate
). Although women could work, their labor conditions were often subpar. According to
scholar Maud Lavin, “behind the New Woman myths of flexibility and women’s economic opportunities, legal rights, and political participation continued to be circumscribed.” Even as they entered the workforce, women received the lowest-paying jobs and often had to retain all their duties as homemakers.
Höch addressed such gendered discrimination in photomontages such as The Beautiful Girl (1920). In the work, a woman has not a head, but a lightbulb. A car tire and a lever box her in on either side. BMW logos multiply behind her, while a hand holding a circular pocket watch emerges from behind a pouf of hair. Corporations and new technologies, apparently, have overtaken the subject’s individuality, while the clock suggests how time and labor were being monetized in new ways.