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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.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.Prom and formals could be expensive events and “the girl had to be willing to help her boyfriend save up for the event by budgeting ‘their’ money, even if it meant sitting home together.” If the date didn’t involve “sitting home together,” private time together consisted of parking on a less-trafficked road, the drive-in movie theater, or the overlook.The concept of dating originated in the early 20th century when young men started asking young women to go out with them to public places such as theaters or dance halls.Drinkworth earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Wisconsin and won a media award for her in-depth coverage of local politics. 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.
The purpose was to publicly declare their relationship and commitment. “Other steadies spelled out their names on the bumpers of their boyfriends’ car.” Some girls would wear a “Puppy Love Anklet.” When she wore it on her left ankle, it meant she was committed. In a pinning ceremony, “a fraternity member gives his fraternity pin to a woman in a sorority, symbolizing that he values his girlfriend more than his house.” This symbolizes a high form of commitment, and some might see it as a pre-engagement gesture. In steady dating, “the boy had to call the girl a certain number of times a week and take her on a certain number of dates a week.” He might take her to the pizza parlor, a malt shop, the record store, or the drive-in movie theater. It wasn’t appropriate for a guy to ask a girl on the day of the date.
Having reliable birth control gave women more control over their bodies, and sex was no longer tied to reproduction.
While women were conditioned to want babies, pregnancies and babies also represented a burden that tied women to the home.
The birth control pill allowed women to have sex without the fear of pregnancy.
Society was changing, and dating became more casual.