The system the dating dictionary
Weigel quotes a 1915 report by a New York social worker: “The acceptance on the part of the girl of almost any invitation needs little explanation, when one realizes that she often goes pleasureless unless she accepts ‘free treats.’ ” To have fun, a woman had to let a man pay for her and suffer the resultant damage to her reputation.Daters were “Charity Girls”—“Charity Cunts,” in a dictionary of sexual terms published in 1916—so called because they gave themselves away for free. If women went out, they were seen as akin to whores, who at least got cash for their trouble—a distinction that was lost on the police, who regularly arrested female daters for prostitution.Her second conclusion is that the way we consume love changes to reflect the economy of the times.The monogamy of the booming postwar fifties offered “a kind of romantic full employment,” while the free love of the sixties signified not the death of dating but its deregulation on the free market.John was a champion girlfriend accumulator, the ringmaster of a romantic circus that only he could see.
Maybe he wouldn’t choose either of them; he told Weigel that he found the whole premise of long-term romance “ideologically suspect.”She realized that she had no idea what she herself wanted from romance.
Artie, a young clerk, confronts a girlfriend who’s been giving him the slip: “I s’pose the other boy’s fillin’ all my dates? A later column reports Artie’s admiring observation that a certain girl’s date book was so full she had to keep it “on the Double Entry System.”Not surprisingly, these new female freedoms came with a catch.
The pursuit of leisure cost more than most single working-class women (paid a fraction of what men were) could readily afford.
Using another metaphor, Weigel compares the experience to being cast in a bad piece of experimental theatre: “You and a partner showed up every night with different, conflicting scripts.
You did your best.” This makes dating sound a lot like a recurring anxiety dream. candidate in comparative literature, film, and media at Yale; “Labor of Love,” a perceptive and wide-ranging investigation into the history of dating in America, is her first book, sprouted from the seed of unpleasant personal experience.