Dating Habits: Shortage of Men in the 1940s

February 15, 2011 | Elizabeth

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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