A few days ago, as an American friend of mine was telling me all about her new boyfriend and how he had asked her out with flowers, I realized how different courtship and dating is for teens in France and the US. Americans go on formal dates; we keep things secret. The word “date” has no equivalent in French, and it’s simply because we don’t go on them.
Americans only say “I love you” after months of dating. You might wonder how people get to know each other then.
If you were 17, you might suggest to your strict Christian parents that you'd like to snuggle up with sultry Goodie Sally from across the hog farm. You've probably heard of this practice, called "bundling," where unmarried couples could sleep together in the same bed, sometimes with a plank placed between them (for all the good it would do). They planned ahead for it like some parents today stock their son's skater pants with condoms. HOLD HANDS AND MAKE EMPTY PROMISES Handfasting, or spousing, was another way for a dishonorable young rogue to get lucky.
It’s all about social codes, and I hope you enjoyed learning about the ones of where I’m from!But with bundling, if the girl should fall pregnant, there would be plenty of witnesses to claim the boy in question had access and opportunity. No ruination for the girl, no fatherless child, no shame for the parents, and the guy? You didn't need a license or even a presiding authority.It was acceptable to have a common-law marriage, where you basically held hands and agreed to be married. And as court records of the day show, lots of men chose to do it right in front of a nice big bed with a woman they had no intention of eating breakfast with.And not patriarchal as we use the term today, where it can be applied to anything from the injustice of the glass ceiling to men who insist on standing up to pee. Plus, the idea of "patriarchy" and completely ruling your "subjects" was losing its popularity in an America that was screaming at a king to stay out of its room. PROMISE TO STAY ON YOUR SIDE OF THE BUNDLING BOARD By comparing marriage records with subsequent birth records, historians can tell that by the late 18th century, 30 to 40 percent of American brides were pregnant at their weddings.Back then, a woman literally belonged to her father or husband. Marriage was a business arrangement that two men would make, their bargaining chips being their sons' inheritance and their daughters' dowries. Also, bigger towns and more spacious settlements meant it was harder to keep track of people's private affairs with their privates. Society wasn't really upset that the girls were pregnant, as long as they got married to the father.