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It seems as though every few months someone writes an article about how courtship as we know it is coming to a grisly end. Anytime a new technology arrives on the scene that makes it easier for people to connect romantically, social watchdogs panic and bemoan the loss of “traditional dating.”
In Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating, Weigel, a contributor to The Guardian, The New Republic, and n+1, follows the concept of dating to its origin in the late 19th century and guides us back to the present for a lively history of how Americans – women, men, gay, straight, black, and white – have approached the public and private activities of love and sex. Weigel examines the historical and economic forces that have shaped romantic relations, and continually shows that it’s not just you: dating really is work.
From the earliest days when women could be arrested on charges of prostitution for getting dinner and drinks with a man to 1920s campus hookup culture, there has never been a singular, monolithic notion of how people should court. There have been recurring themes, however, like the fact that men and women must enact highly conservative, stereotyped roles of male pursuers and female objects of desire. Weigel shows readers where ideas come from that are often assumed to be “natural” or “inevitable,” and in so doing she shows how we can be more honest and generous with ourselves and our partners. Book signing to follow.
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