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They knew what was “normal.” Prior to the 20th century, “normal” was determined within families and local communities, but now a “higher authority,” with wide-spread circulation and readership, began to form a national consciousness. With the onset of the sexual revolution the question arose, “Why would a man court and woo a woman when he could gain a chief benefit of marriage, namely sexual gratification, for free with no commitment?” (Friendship “with benefits” is a contemporary example.) Closely related to this is the invention of birth control.
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, . Check out the the profiles below to see your ideal date.Start a conversation and setup a meetup later tonight.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.However, between the late 1800s and the first few decades of the 1900s the new system of “dating” added new stages to courtship.