A Brief History of Courtship and Dating in America

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A Brief History of Courtship and Dating in America, Part 1 [pic]by The Rev'd Skip Burzumato [pic] Whenever possible, I love to use the word "courtship" in everyday conversation with young and old alike. It's one of those words with which most people are familiar, but have vastly differing opinions of what it means. For many, courtship is an old-fashioned word. It summons visions of men wooing 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 preparation for and proposal…show more content…
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. Thirdly, we see a change in sexual norms in the West. 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. There is too much that could be said here, so I'll be brief. Simply put, with the onset of the widespread use of chemical and other means of birth control, the language of procreation — of having children — was separated from the language of marriage. As U. of Chicago ethicist Leon Kass argues in his chapter on courtship in Building a Healthy Culture: Strategies for an American Renaissance, under the old system of courtship, marriage and bringing a child into the world were inextricably linked. But no longer. With the ever decreasing risk of pregnancy, having sex and being married were no longer tied together. Fourthly, we find a change in the models and metaphors used to describe the home and family. Prior

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