Since most young adults will marry, the process employed in finding a husband and wife is still considered courtship.However, an extra layer, what we call "dating," has been added to the process of courting.
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.
"In the eyes of the authorities," Weigel writes, "women who let men buy them food and drinks or gifts and entrance tickets looked like whores, and making a date seemed the same as turning a trick." reports that "petting" joined the national lexicon in the 1920s, later defined by sexologist Alfred Kinsey as "deliberately touching body parts above or below the waist," writes Weigel.
Her own grandfather, who dated in the 1930s, recalled teachers trying futilely to impose rules on extracurricular activities: 'If they let girls sit in their laps while 'joyriding,' they had to be sure 'to keep at least a magazine between them.'"Not long after, dates started to resemble scenes from with couples sharing ice cream and Coca-Cola, going to the movies, or driving up a remote hilltop for "parking." Although parents and teachers of the time perceived this behavior as a decline in morality, Weigel argues that dating is an ever-changing landscape that can't be judged by the previous generation's standards—something for anyone who's ever been Facebook shamed by a date to keep in mind.
Part 1: A Brief History of Dating and Courtship in America Let's turn our attention now to "dating" and the "date" itself. How did it become such an important part of our courtship system? According to cultural historian Beth Bailey, the word was probably originally used as a lower-class slang word for booking an appointment with a prostitute.
However, by the turn of the 20th century we find the word being used to describe lower-class men and women going out socially to public dances, parties and other meeting places, primarily in urban centers where women had to share small apartments and did not have spacious front parlors in their homes to which to invite men to call.
With the rise of the entertainment culture, with its movie houses and dance halls and their universal appeal across class lines, dating quickly moved up the socio-economic ladder to include middle- and upper-class men and women, as well as the new urbanites.
When one tries to understand how dating has changed over time, and most importantly, how we arrived at the system of courtship and dating we have today, one must realize the monumental cultural shift that occurred during the 1940s, primarily due to World War II.
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.
Fourthly, we find a change in the models and metaphors used to describe the home and family.