Courtship in america dating in the 20th century
Dating is the moment when it becomes possible for young women to have more choices.” In many ways, it was a sign of progress for women, who escaped the watchful eye of family. Now women had to wait to be invited, dependent on their date’s initiative.“And dating became a system of exchange,” says Drachman.“The history of women is always one step forward, half a step back,” Drachman says.
“While going steady was an adaptation of the system of dating, the sexual revolution really was a change,” Drachman says.
Set in Yonkers, New York, just before the turn of the 20 addresses a pivotal time in courtship’s history: “dating” as we currently know it didn’t yet exist, and America’s constantly shifting class mobility made traditional courtship difficult.
So why would a successful, widowed bachelor like the play’s protagonist, Horace Vandergelder, seek out a matchmaker to find him a new bride?
“So the courtship took place in the woman’s sphere—the woman had some autonomy and power.” As the century progressed, however, calling began to give way to the more modern system of dating—and the balance of power began to shift.
“Young men would invite women into the public sphere, their sphere,” Drachman says.
This was a time when women in America were venturing beyond their usual public boundaries: they were voting, working, going to college.