The twentieth century has witnessed several changes in social structures and notably with the birth of youth culture, which allowed people between the state of childhood and the one of adulthood to be recognized as a full-fledged category of the society. This change in status has led to several other changes as well for girls as for boys, and the question that will be dealt with in this essay is the one concerning the differences in young girls' life between the patterns of courtship and marriage before and after the birth of youth culture, that is to say between the pre-war and the post-war periods. To answer this question, the essay will be divided in two main parts dealing with the two different statuses a girl usually goes through in her life, namely, the pre-marital situation and the marital one. Each part will tackle the several aspects of these statuses and point out the differences between the period of time that preceded the birth of youth culture and the one that followed it.
[...] Indeed, in the 1950's, young women were more likely to leave their job than to quarrel with an employer, but this kind of decision was easier for them as the labour market at this time was much more open than nowadays and changing types and places of job was common. At the beginning of the century, the wages of the working-class young people were entirely used for the family subsistence and the working youngsters hardly kept any money out of it, expect maybe a better diet and a certain respect from their parents as they were now considered more like working adults than simple children. [...]
[...] According to the testimonies of women living in the beginning of the century, a good husband had to correctly fulfil his obligations as the family breadwinner and to earn enough money for the subsistence of the family. In addition to being a good worker, he was also required to show respect to his wife and children, and that included not wasting his whole wage in drinking for instance. It happened that some men had violent behaviour towards their wives, but most of the time, the woman would put up with that because she was completely dependent on her husband's financial support. [...]
[...] Indeed, the fear of pre-marital sexual intercourse and pregnancy was omnipresent and even though allowing young men to dance publicly with young women could seem dangerous, it was still better than giving them a chance to meet in private. If these dancing halls were the main meeting place for youngsters at the beginning of the century, things started to change in the 1940's and 1950's when boys and girls preferred to go to the cinema in order to have more intimacy. [...]
[...] Despite the fact that the 1960's were considered as a peak decade in terms of marriage, their number significantly decreased during all the end of the twentieth century, and this phenomenon is probably due to the new and progressively growing freedom in relationships that occurred in the 1970's. To begin with, the reasons for girls to get married at the beginning of the century were mainly financial because then women wages were far under the subsistence level, which meant that if they did not marry, girls had to live in their parents' house or in the household of a male relative; not getting married at that time was thus considered as a 'failure in business'. [...]
[...] This emphasize on the role of mothers probably made to the detriment of fathers who a bit more of the few importance they had in the children's education in the late 1940's can somehow be held responsible for the slowing down of progress in the movement that led women to a greater independency in the end of the twentieth century. To conclude this question, it is necessary to underline that, even if several changes and sometimes quite important ones occurred in young women's lives with the birth of youth culture, they nevertheless remained limited and only applied to certain aspects of their lives as grown-ups. [...]
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