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In June 1945, captioned a photo of a bride and groom descending church steps with: “She got a man, but 6 to 8 million women won’t. ” Around this same time a half-serious article was published in magazine discussing the possibility of instituting a polygamous marriage system in the United States.
Due primarily to this scarcity of men, two things happened in the United States after World War II pertaining to marriage: Marriage rates climbed, and the average age of those marrying went down.
You had to rate in order to date, to date in order to rate.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.One example of this impression management comes from a 1938 article in where a Smith College senior advised incoming freshmen on how to cultivate an “image of popularity.” She wrote, “During your first term, get home talent to ply you with letters, telegrams and invitations.One sociologist wrote in a July 1953 article that each boy and girl ideally should date 25 to 50 eligible marriage partners before making his or her final decision.
At the center of this 1950s youth dating culture was the act of “going steady,” according to Beth Bailey.
By the late 1940s and early 1950s demographic realities began to sink in: There was a shortage of men.