Dating Habits: Shortage of Men in the 1940s

by Elizabeth on February 15, 2011 · 3 comments

Women in the 1940s

Good Housekeeping published this in the mid-1940s underneath a picture of a bride and groom coming out of a church after a wedding ceremony:

“She got a man, but 6 to 8 million women won’t. We’re short 1 million bachelors!”

In June of 1945, the New York Times posted an article saying:

“With half the war won, men are coming home to America, but not enough of them.”

It also continued to state that approximately 750,000 women that year would have to accept living alone. Lonely women such as these would in turn, ignore the biological laws of motherhood, and in consequence go crazy.

My grandmother was born in the late 1910s and was of the marrying age during this time. She served as a WAVE for the U.S. Navy during World War II but before this, moved to the city and worked for a couple different companies in secretarial positions. When I asked her about a shortage of men during this time, she said there were many women who took to an independent lifestyle at this time. In fact, before my grandmother got married, she owned her own home.

She had accepted that she would never find someone; that was the stigma placed in society and she had made it a part of her psyche. But, at a Navy Ball shortly after the war, she found my grandfather and they were married within a few months. She was one of those lucky women who found a man to marry.

She grew up in a small town called Newark, New Jersey. She said that most of the women there were able to find someone and get married, but there were a few women she worked with or was in the navy with that never found anyone, and she simply lost touch with them.

Women who didn’t get married didn’t socialize in the same circles as married women with children. Independent, single women kind of disappeared into society and into their own lone world.

The shortage of men was not only contributed to by the war. Male babies did not survive the birth as much as female babies did. Men also had more dangerous factory and machinery jobs at this time. Many immigrants were male, but, immigration laws tightened at this time so the pool of men was greatly reduced.

With a shortage of men, came a shortage of marriages and a shortage of more babies-both male and female.

Today there is a shortage of marriages. Will this change our lives and future generations to come?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Alyssa February 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Unfortunately, I feel today’s shortage of marriages will negatively impact our future generations. The structure of the family is the most valuable instution, although it is not being respected today. Coming from a one parent household, I would have given anything to have a “traditional family,” with a married mother and father. Although this was not availabe to me, my mother did an outstanding job raising a child on her own. Through my own experiences, I value the family structure and want other children to grow up in such an environment. I recognize that many American families are divorced or widowed, and such circumstances can not always be avoided. But I find it sad that many couples with children choose not to get married and therefore neglect giving their children the ability to grow up in a family with a married mother and father.

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Marie February 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm

In reply to Alyssa’s comment. My parents had me before they were married but were married shortly after. However, my parents did not marry because they were in love they married out of duty because they had a child. I grew up in a “traditional family” with two parents who ended up hating one another and experienced many unpleasant things because their marriage wasn’t based in love. Looking back as an adult I wonder if my life and my parents would have been better had they not gotten married but stayed amicable friends who shared custody. I’ll never know and I do agree that a family structure can be invaluable but only if it’s in place for the right reasons.

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Elizabeth February 22, 2011 at 11:25 am

Family structure really does go a long way for children. Marie-in regards to your comment, I’m sorry that you were in that situation.
Marriage for all the right reasons and having two parents that stay together is obviously the ideal situation many of us imagine and picture in our minds. Unfortunately, having the ideal isn’t always in our control and we can only do our best…

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