ABSTRACT THROUGH COURTSHIP AND DATING HISTORY: A TAPMAK PERSPECTIVE. Part 3

ch05-fig1For quite some time, we often had protracted sharing of great minds with my Namesake Tapiwa Mundawarara. He’s one smart gentleman who carries a name, which seemingly is given to talkative and sharp eyed people who are too clever for their own liking, and are too curious for their demise, as well as too popular because of their “big mouths”. I am saying so cause I’ve never came across a QUIET, SILENT AND IMMATURE person named TAPIWA, as me 😀😝.All the rest are TALKATIVE, VOCAL AND MATURE Kkkkkkkkk

OK, jokes aside! We shared thoughts on what is dating, and I was of the idea that dating NOW is a stage within the process of COURTING. Well that is partly right. If you notice, from the top I did not talk of the couple courting as they mate for dates, NO. They didn’t do that. WHY you might ask? Because, a date referred to an appointment with a PROSTITUTE. If you said you had a date, it only meant that you are going for a session with a PROSTITUTE.

Yeeeeah, right there, kuti dyuuuu. This is according to cultural historian Beth Bailey, who posts that the word “date” was probably originally used as a lower-class slang word for booking an appointment with a prostitute. However, by the turn of the 20th century we find the word being used to describe lower-class men and women going out socially to public dances, parties and other meeting places, primarily in urban centers where women had to share small apartments and did not have spacious front parlors in their homes to which to invite men to call. Has it lost that meaning in this 21st Century, maybe, maybe not? Let us see how it revolutionized Courtship…

We therefore find out that in the early 20th century courtship moved from “PUBLIC ACTS” conducted in PRIVATE SPACES (for instance, the family porch or parlor) to “PRIVATE OR INDIVIDUAL ACTS” conducted in PUBLIC SPACES, located primarily in the entertainment world. From this standpoint, one can argue that courtship ceased from a collective and guided process, but boiled down to the individuals’ preferences. It being private implies the toning down of external factor influences, such as parents, community etc. Bailey observes that by the 1930s and ’40s, with the advent of the “date” courtship increasingly took place in public spaces such as movie theaters and dance halls, removed by distance and by anonymity from the sheltering and controlling contexts of the home and local community. Keeping company in the family parlor was replaced by dining and dancing, movies, and “parking.”

The RICH liked the idea of “going out” and began following this “exciting” public courtship custom. These “public” outings also lead to private getaways. It is however argued that the rise of the entertainment culture, with its movie houses and dance halls and their universal appeal across class lines, meant dating quickly moved up the socio-economic ladder to include middle- and upper-class men and women, as well as the new urbanites. Therefore everyone could “go-out” with almost everyone, without the pre-checks ass of courtship as highlighted in the first 2 posts. Somehow the social class banter was soiled maybe cracked BUT not completely destroyed.

Thomas Umstattd argues that, Community dances were a key part of the courtship process in the late 19th and 20th centuries. This he suggested in comparison to the notion of “speed dates, blind dates and group date” amongst the likes. He posits that, the community dance allowed young singles to interact with many other singles in one night. Young men who came to a dance alone would often offer to walk one of the women home from the dance. This would sometimes result in a long moonlit chat on the front porch. The private getaways as mentioned above, would then lead to other private things, privately done, that I can only write in privacy kkkkkk. The point here is, somewhat, this new “public” as in the sphere of conduct or environment courtship opened avenues to experimentation to “private” as in secretive and cloistered conducts and behaviour which prior (when twas at home) was not possible.

One can radically argue that the “marriage undertone” in courting, started to diminish, and home building started to slide down the priority list of courting, as this new system enabled the individual to explore dimensions they had never thought they would, without quickly committing. This meant, people started having other reasons on why they “go-out or court, or date”. Going out with someone wasn’t a clear and definite sign that they were planning to marry you. Courtship hence ceased to be a direct way and process of getting a partner for marriage. How? You might ask.

Beth Bailey comments, “Popularity was clearly the key — and popularity defined in a very specific way. It was not earned directly through talent, looks, personality or importance and involvement in organizations, but by the way these attributes translated into the number and frequency of dates. These dates had to be highly visible, and with many different people, or they didn’t count.” Ken Myers summarizes this system, “Rating, dating, popularity, and competition: catchwords hammered home, reinforced from all sides until they became the natural vocabulary. You had to rate in order to date, to date in order to rate. By successfully maintaining this cycle, you became popular. To stay popular, you competed. There was no end: popularity was a deceptive goal.”

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