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How did patterns of courtship and getting married differ for young women in the 1950's compared to the 1930's?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Working-class girls at the beginning of the century.
  3. The wages of the working-class young people.
  4. 'The Swinging Sixties'.
  5. Meeting the opposite sex and courting.
  6. A sexual revolution.
  7. The reasons for girls to get married at the beginning of the century.
  8. Attitude towards wedding in the ninteenth century.
  9. Sexuality and contraception within marriage.
  10. The roles men and women inside the family.
  11. Conclusion.
  12. Bibliography.

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[3]. [...]


[...] According to the testimonies of women living in the beginning of the century[17], 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. [...]


[...] As for sexual intercourse, women at the beginning of the century regarded it only as necessary to procreation and did not associate these relations with any kind of pleasure. They considered it as a duty they somehow had to undergo to satisfy their husband's desire and found it 'unpleasant and distasteful'[15] and, most of the time, they tried to avoid it. Another and maybe more important reason to their avoiding was the lack of effective contraceptive at the beginning of the century which let women in constant doubt about becoming pregnant. [...]

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