Note: This was originally posted some months back, but was accidentally deleted. I just finally found a copy on my hard drive. Please forgive the repost!
Shortly after World War II, male bartenders tried to bar women from their profession. They saw bars as the poor man’s version of the gentleman’s club, a male refuge from the wider world. They were places women rarely went. There might be a jukebox crooning softly in the corner, but there was no dancing. Men would sit alone, wrapped in their thoughts as they drowned their troubles, or in small groups, talking (the jukebox wasn’t loud enough to prevent this).
Consider for a moment how much the humble bar has changed. By now, most of them are “singles bars”, an institution that has become so embedded in our culture that it is difficult to remember that within living memory, it did not even exist.
Until the 1960’s, people usually met prospective partners at social gatherings designed by their families for that precise purpose. When we think of it today, we tend to think of parents and other authority figures in bygone eras as the sworn enemies of heterosexuality. Those mean old parents were always chaperoning their youngsters so they couldn’t have sex, forcing them to marry people they didn’t like, etc. But think of the novels of Jane Austen, Margaret Mitchell, Nancy Mitford. These ought to have alerted popular culture to the pre-1960s practice of parents setting up parties, such as debutante balls, whose chief purpose was for their unmarried offspring to dance with and talk to members of the opposite sex so that grandchildren could ensue. Yeah, there were always duennas hanging around to prevent the young people from having sex before they got married, but nonetheless the atmosphere seems to have been a profoundly favorable one.
I’m always given a jolt every time a mother in a classic novel or old movie is actually happy to see a young man looking at her daughter. Nowadays, parents who care about their children at all have to face the fact that given the cultural climate, if their teenagers are allowed out of the house, the odds are excellent that they will have sex. Even apart from the psychological damage of sex without commitment and at a too-young age, damage that liberals insist does not exist, there’s also the uncompromising danger of pregnancy or disease. This means that parents who care have to view every date with the utmost suspicion. Is this boy going to make their daughter a mother at 15? Is this girl going to give their son his first VD before he even goes to college? At an age when young people ought to be exploring the delight of having two sexes in the world and finding the person they will spend their lives with, their parents have instead to do whatever they can to discourage any attraction they see because of where it may lead, or else press condoms and pills on their children so that they will not suffer too much from their folly. But back to parties.
Nowadays most parties, unless they are family reunions, are made up of people of the same age group, mostly unrelated to each other. For most of history, however, parties were gatherings of multiple age groups, multiple extended families. As opposed to today’s habit of warehousing teenagers with other teenagers to prevent them from observing and learning adult behavior, adolescents would be attending the same parties as their parents and grandparents. The concept was that the young people were being introduced and brought into the adult world, which they were to be a part of. The modern notions that the younger generation should be kept quarantined as if its members had some deadly disease, and that every generation ought to wrench control from their elders and jettison the values and customs of previous eras, was mercifully unheard of.
A major objective of these parties was to give young people an opportunity to find a mate. Marriages to unsuitable partners were rare, because unsuitable people were simply not admitted. If some wastrel or drunkard or woman of loose morals could not be kept out because of family connections or some such, his (or her) prospective victims were still unlikely to be taken in, because the room was full of people who knew of the scandal and who relayed the details in whispers throughout the room. If some charming cad made overtures to a naïve young lady, her parents and a passel of other relatives were on the spot to shoo him off and expose his true character to the girl.
Nowadays, of course, we are too “liberated” for such safeguards and so every young person is cast adrift on the world to fend for him- or herself as best he can.
In the parties of yore, the mere presence of a man at a gathering demonstrated that he was of reasonably sound moral character, that his past and connections were known and were unalarming, and that he had mastered the basics of civilized behavior. A singles bar, of course, has no such barriers to admission. In addition, the old parties made it possible for young couples to actually talk, to learn if their personalities were compatible. People learned things about those they met, and any attempt to lie about one’s fortune, character or profession would be swiftly exposed, as the room was filled with people who knew the truth! Dancing – used often as a symbolic demonstration of a man’s fitness as a husband in the novels of Jane Austen – was done according to set patterns that had to be learned, and it required paying attention to one’s partner so as not to break the pattern or tread on her feet.
Compare that to the singles bar. Anyone can stroll in, unvetted, unscreened. The “dancing” consists of gyrating randomly, a “skill” that does not need to be learned and requires little attention to one’s partner; indeed, often today’s “dancing” is partnerless. The “music” is so artistically worthless that the central element of a song, melody, is subordinated to the beat (if not altogether nonexistent), which is played at ear-splitting level, making conversation impossible. A singles bar, virtually the only place where young people in search of partners can go looking for them today, consists of a lot of people standing around sustaining hearing loss, shrieking “Would you like to dance?” an inch from each other’s ears, and knocking back drink after drink to escape the sordid reality around them.
A woman approached by a strange man has to rely entirely on her own intuition to discern if he really is a doctor, if he has what used to be called a “social disease”, if he is a serial killer, or if he is simply a blackguard who will desert her after a single night. No one else at the bar knows him, so if he has a string of abandoned pregnant girlfriends or felony arrests behind him, no one can warn her. Instead of judging a man by his demonstrated ability to keep his word and carry on a profession to determine if he might be a suitable husband, a woman is forced to judge by his body language and the clothes on his back if he is worth taking home tonight. She can only hope that afterwards he might come back for a second night, and possibly for life. Indeed, the practice of sleeping with a strange man because he has appealing body language has become so prevalent that an entire subculture has arisen of men teaching each other the proper way to carry oneself, speak to a woman, and make advances towards her so as to get her into bed.
Back when women were not expected to have sex with men they weren’t married to, the “male gaze”, flirting, and compliments were affirmation women could enjoy. A whistle or a wolfish look was a request for something the man and woman both knew he wasn’t going to get. It was safe. With modern pressure to have extramarital sex, women feel on some level that they are “obliged” to come across, and responding to flirting with anything other than hostility could be considered leading the man on. The Sexual Revolution has made male appreciation a threat instead of a compliment.
This is what “liberation” has led us to: women being put in a position where strange men make a science of how to get into their pants, and men in a position where honesty, kindness, and hard work are deemed worthless by women who go home with the guy who carries himself the right way and has learned to steer the conversation like a car. Like all other elements of feminism, it has left women as well as men worse off, not better.
Let us return the bar to what it used to be, and make parties family affairs once more.