Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating- Moira Weigel

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“…dating itself often feels like the worst, most precarious form of contemporary labor: an unpaid internship. You cannot be sure where things are heading, but you try to gain experience. If you look sharp, you might get a free lunch.”

…or dinner. In fact, when women first joined the work force,that’s the only way many could afford to eat. But let’s fast-forward a a bit.

Since she was a child, Moira Weigel was told that romantic love was the most significant  thing that would ever happen to her or anyone.  Without it, all other accomplishments would be futile. But how do you find romantic love? The answer was simple…well, sort of. You find love by dating.

So she did. By her mid-twenties she  realized that something didn’t make sense. No one asked or cared about what she wanted. The con was that she had to convince herself that what she wanted was what everyone else wanted.  She felt that self-help books were part of the conspiracy. They tell women that they are the problem and can change when the problem is actually society’s expectations.

So how did we get to this point? Weigel researched the whole concept of dating from the early twentieth century to now.  How did dating go from an arrangement in the home to our hookup culture, virtual dating, computer erotica, cybersex  and other forms of accelerated intimacy?

Labor of Love is a captivating look at dating through the years. From shop girls to charity girls to the changing of roles in the 1960’s. How can you distinguish prostitution from sugar dating or even a free dinner? And let’s not forget the concept of “settling”.

What I  found particularly fascinating was how much of dating in the gay community influenced the dating protocol of heterosexuals  today. Also our general culture has been influenced by such events as rent parties prominent among Afro-Americans in the early to mid-1900’s.  Therefore we have to take a multicultural look at dating in order to get a grasp of where we are in the whole scheme of “finding love”.

Labor of Love goes into much more depth of each of the aspects I briefly mentioned above. That in itself makes for an interesting read.   But more importantly it may make you re-think  this whole dating culture and that you may be motivated to make your own  tweaks to it. Will we find answers and solutions  to this age old quest for love? Maybe not, but after reading this, you’ll definitely feel that you’re not alone.



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