Christian courtship and dating
In Chicago, single women were known as “women adrift.” These circumstances gave birth to dating rituals and other unfortunate traditions that still remain — or, at least, still cause confusion as mores change — today.
“As the years passed, the vice squad had to accept it,” she writes. They saw them as romantic.” While dating finally became acceptable, it wasn’t exactly liberating for women.
If the American Dream for men was to work hard and become a success, the equivalent for women was to get a good job and marry your rich boss.
“But a job in a department store or a laundry gave anyone opportunities to become well versed in the signs of wealth.” To that end Shopgirls studied their well-to-do female customers seeking to imitate their look, which led the business world to pounce on this new type of consumer who sought little but to impress.
“The cosmetics industry exploded in the 1920s,” Weigel writes.
“At Bedford Reformatory, an institution founded to rehabilitate female delinquents in upstate New York, an Irish woman told her jailers again and again that she had ‘never taken money from men,’ ” Weigel writes.
“Instead, men took her ‘to Coney Island to dances and Picture Shows.’ ” In time, the authorities gave up, overtaken by reality.In 1900, the average female worker earned less than half of what a man would earn in the same position.” If you’ve ever wondered how it developed that men were expected to treat their dates, that’s how.“‘If I had to buy all my meals I’d never get along,’ a young woman living in a boardinghouse in Hell’s Kitchen told a social worker in 1915.” But as these women were courted in public, efforts were undertaken to curb what authorities viewed as a potential public menace. But how much worse would it be if the very act of it landed you in jail?According to “Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a sprawling new history by Moira Weigel, the first female daters faced exactly that — mistaken, in their quest for love, for prostitutes.“By making herself up, a woman showed that she valued her femininity and was willing to spend time and money on her appearance.” Two other now-familiar concepts also sprung up around this time.