Gender Convention and Courtship

Brenda E. Stevenson

in Life in Black and White

Published in print November 1997 | ISBN: 9780195118032
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853793 | DOI:
Gender Convention and Courtship

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The conventions and unspoken rules governing gender and courtship are dictated by the region's prevailing vision of “Southern nationhood,” particularly in relation to class and gender-specific differences and societal roles. This philosophy is then enforced and perpetuated by the community's influential members across generations. However, people outside the upper and middle class sphere were unable to adopt these values as they were impractical in their circumstances. Women were relegated to a weak, submissive, and supportive role, in contrast to the aggressive and patriarchal notion of male dominance. Racial, cultural, and social compatibility were foremost considerations in the institution of marriage. This encompassed such aspects as the financial wealth of the bride and groom, religious beliefs, and their general lifestyle. In the final section, actual accounts depicting the nuances of Southern courtship is presented, from elaborate public “introductions” to clandestine rendezvous ingenuously planned by the would-be lovers.

Keywords: gender; courtship; marriage; conventions; Southern nationhood; Southern morality; slaves

Chapter.  12726 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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