I was catching up on my RhRealityCheck podcasts while doing data entry at work yesterday, and heard Amanda Marcotte do a great analysis of author Laura Sessions Stepp’s vision of ideal hetero romance, which basically imagines all people (and specifically adolescents and college-age young adults) to have the income levels of established, upper-middle-class adults:
Hey, I’ve seen movies about young adults in the 50s and 60s. It was mostly necking in the car, going to dances and bars, and getting cheap food. What Sessions Stepp is doing here is incredibly sleazy. She’s feeding young women an image of dating that’s borrowed from what people do now in their mid 20s and beyond, when they have jobs and feel less awkward wearing grown-up clothes. But she’s pretending that those kinds of dates are something very young women did in the past. In reality, dinner dates and high heels are part of the future, their futures. Everyone I know who was drinking beer and watching videos in their college years on dates, and most of us became the sort of people who go to concerts, drink liquor, and eat expensive food on dates when we had, you know, jobs.
I’d actually take the critique further and point out that even in one’s mid-twenties and beyond, the high-heels “dinner date” ideal Sessions-Stepp puts forward as the only legitimate scenario for courtship is hardly everyone’s ideal way to spend quality time with their significant other. Setting aside the question of disposable income (lots of adults don’t have that kind of money — whether because they’ve lost their job, are still in school, or are stretching their salaries to pay for necessary expenses) I’d like to ask Sessions-Stepp why I should want to grow out of an evening at home with my girlfriend cuddling in comfy clothes and watching the latest episode of Sarah Jane Adventures over an open bottle of Charles Shaw merlot?