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Men's popularity needed outward material signs: automobile, clothing, fraternity membership, money, etc.

Women's popularity depended on building and maintaining a reputation of popularity: be seen with popular men in the "right" places, turn down requests for dates made at the last minute and cultivate the impression that you are greatly in demand.

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By the early 1950s, going steady had acquired a totally different meaning.

It was no longer the way a marriageable couple signaled their deepening intentions.

In the late 1940s, Margaret Mead, in describing this pre-war dating system, argued that dating was not about sex or marriage.

Instead, it was a "competitive game," a way for girls and boys to demonstrate their popularity.

The article went on to say that if, for some reason, you did not have a date on a particular night, you should keep the lights off in your dorm room so no one would know you were home.

Beth Bailey comments, "Popularity was clearly the key — and popularity defined in a very specific way.Part 1: A Brief History of Dating and Courtship in America Let's turn our attention now to "dating" and the "date" itself. How did it become such an important part of our courtship system? According to cultural historian Beth Bailey, the word 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.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, " catchwords hammered home, reinforced from all sides until they became the natural vocabulary.In 1937, sociologist Willard Waller published a study in the .

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