1920 s dating

“Have you noticed a gentleman wearing spats stopping at Miss Holahan’s counter every day, leaving a spray of lily of the valley? In an odd way, this consumerism marked a form of progress.

1920 s dating-79

“In the early 1900s, vice commissions across the country sent police and undercover investigators to check out spots where people went to make dates,” Weigel writes.

“As early as 1905, private investigators hired by a group of Progressive do-gooders in New York City were taking notes on what we can now recognize as the dating avant-garde.” She recalls the report of one such special agent, staked out at the Strand Hotel in Midtown, who noted that the women he was spying on did not seem like prostitutes, per se, but were concerning nonetheless.

‘I’m going to be an executive secretary and marry the boss.’ ” The other alternative was for women to take jobs in high-class department stores where rich men were likely to shop.

These women became known as “Shopgirls.” Donovan spent two summers working at a department store to research a book, and later reported she knew of “several marriages and heard of a great many more where the husband was far above the wife as measured by the economic scale.” Magazines began running articles such as, “How Shopgirls win Rich Husbands.” An in-house newsletter for Macy’s employees in New York even included a gossip column that tracked these courtships. ” In order to attract rich men, these Shopgirls were caught by the irony of needing to buy the expensive items they sold.

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.

When women first hit the workforce, writes Weigel, “the belief remained widespread they were working not to support themselves but only to supplement the earnings of fathers or husbands.” As such, “employers used this misconception as an excuse to pay women far less than they paid men.

” But when these single women, stripped from their dependency on fathers and husbands, began to be courted in public, police, politicians, and civic leaders were alarmed.

“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.” After centuries of women’s fortunes being dictated by the men around them, the notion of women on their own gave much of society pause.

“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.

Previously, people sought to be known by traits that emphasized morality, such as “character” and “virtue.” The concept of “personality” — which places emphasis on surface traits — had been regarded in the negative, referenced in terms of “personality disorders.” “Starting around 1920, however,” Weigel writes, “experts began to grant that healthy individuals had personalities, too.” The concept began popping up in romance literature and articles about dating, in the sense that, “personality was like ‘painting’ — a way a woman could make herself up in order to appeal to men.” “In the context of dating, to have a ‘good personality’ or to simply ‘have personality’ meant to have charisma,” Weigel writes.

“Frances Donovan, a University of Chicago–trained sociologist who taught at Calumet High School on the city’s South Side in the 1920s, interviewed senior girls about their plans after graduation,” Weigel writes.

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