1930s dating guide
It's one of those words with which most people are familiar, but have vastly differing opinions of what it means. It summons visions of men women with small tokens of affection and asking their hand in marriage on bended knee.For social scientists, studies of courtship usually look at the process of "mate selection." (Social scientists, among whom I number myself from time to time, will never be accused of being romantics.) For the purpose of this article the , prior to the early 20th century, courtship involved one man and one woman spending intentional time together to get to know each other with the expressed purpose of evaluating the other as a potential husband or wife.In the early days of dating, many LGBT couples had to keep their relationships a secret for fear of being public stigmatized.For this reason, the history of dating tends to be quite different for the LGBT population.The man and the woman usually were members of the same community, and the courting usually was done in the woman's home in the presence (and under the watchful eye) of her family, most often Mom and brothers.
Over the course of this two-part article, I would like to trace how this change occurred, especially concentrating on the origin of this dating "subroutine." Let me begin by briefly suggesting four cultural forces that assisted in moving from, as Alan Carlson puts it, the more predictable cultural script that existed for several centuries, to the multi-layered system and (I think most would agree) the more ambiguous courtship system that includes "the date." The first, and probably most important change we find in courtship practices in the West occurred in the early 20th century when courtship moved from public acts conducted in private spaces (for instance, the family porch or parlor) to private or individual acts conducted in public spaces, located primarily in the entertainment world, as Beth Bailey argues in her book, .Have you ever known a girl who went out with a guy who was a complete dolt but who could help her get ahead socially?(And not to pick on women, it just as easily happens in reverse.) Those decisions are based more on economic theory of the 19th and 20th centuries than on any sort of biblical notion of desire for the opposite sex.At the same time that the public entertainment culture was on the rise in the early 20th century, a proliferation of magazine articles and books began offering advice about courtship, marriage and the relationship between the sexes.As Ken Myers says in , from the late 1930s on, young people knew, down to the percentage point, what their peers throughout the country thought and did.