Thursday, April 23, 2009

Waiting on a woman.

Brad Paisley - Waiting On A Woman

Brad Paisley - Waiting On A Woman

There is the expectation that when men arrive to pick up their dates (whether at her parents' house, or at her place if she is 'independent') that he may have to wait a while, as the women put on their final touches. Is this peculiar only to American, or can it be found in contemporary societies where dating is the norm? (And love has been commodified?)

It is natural that women seek to make themselves presentable and attractive to men in order to strengthen their attraction. Physical beauty exerts a great pull on men. But I don't think that the practice of women not being punctual has always been the case in the past, because the practice of dating is a relatively recent development. Weren't the women of the upper classes always ready and presentable? They may have spruced themselves up for special events like dances or dinners at another home, but receiving suitors in their father's homes did not require this, as far as I know.


(More photos of the gowns in Wives and Daughters. Enchanted Serenity of Period Films.)

Is the same true of daughters of the rising bourgeoisie? I suspect among the lower class, courtship practices involved less expectations about what could be done to enhance beauty, though cleanliness, modesty, and basic grooming standards were probably required.

Now it may be that the men would have to wait for the women sometimes, but not because they were getting ready to be seen, but because they were occupied with other tasks. I don't think the delay would have been too long -- it would be impolite to make someone wait longer than is necessary to get one's self to the appropriate place after being notified of his or her arrival? There may have been certain "social" hours during which callers could visit and be received -- I'll have to check this.

Nowadays, women take it for granted that a man will wait for them, beyond the appointed time for their meeting. Some justify this it a test of how he is willing to treat her? Or if he is willing to do a lot of waiting for her, since this is what will happen if they get married. If it is a test, it seems to be more a test of patience or ardor than of the virtues. Is it combined with a more narcissistic view of the self? Some women may defend this delay as being necessary; after all, they are beautifying themselves precisely for the men. But now a few are actually guilty of wanting to put themselves on display for everyone they encounter, hence the charge of narcissism--in which the beloved becomes more enamored with the self and her ability to attract others, than with the one whom she is trying to attract.

Some women don't take that long to get ready, and perhaps even less time than many men. Women of the upper classes, having some leisure and light housework, could easily adhere to the ideal of always being presentable. But with the increase in wealth in Western industrialized societies, and the acceptability of a diversity of clothing, ranging from casual to formal, depending upon the circumstances and purposes, women now do need time to change into something "appropriate."

Still, our society is used to an extravagance unseen in previous eras, except among the extremely affluent, and their expectations of what comprises a good life has trickled down to the masses, even if the attempts by many to imitate that way of life are laughable. And women hold themselves to exaggerated standards of beauty.

Maybe in earlier times, after getting married things would seem different to a man in this regard, in so far as he would now be present while his wife was getting ready, and thus be waiting for a woman, something he hadn't had to do while courting her.

But at least with respect to the courtship/dating period, why shouldn't punctuality be possible if the women is concerned with modesty (and simplicity!) and consideration of others, and with punctuality itself? Is it possible for women to not fuss as much over themselves, and yet remain physically attractive to men? I think so -- I don't think it really takes that much. Has there even be an inversion of values? That is to say, many women expect man to wait on them, but are much more willing to give their bodies to them, while in the past a woman may have had to prepare herself ahead of time for a suitor or caller (and thus be bound to social conventions or biology or whatever is being criticized in the negative judgment we moderns may currently pass on the conventions of an earlier period), but at least she would be protected from being exploited as a mere provider of sexual pleasure?

I think I've posted this before, but it's worth putting up again -- Almost Lover - Wives and Daughters.

Should I mention Alan Jackson's Livin' On Love on Catholic Match? Seems like my kind of Romantic ideal. hah.

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