SOC327 2017 Tut5 – Wed 1730

Isn’t it nice to be in love? Isn’t the feeling of love wonderful? But wait – are we talking about the enticing, heart-pounding, sexualised passionate form of love, or the steady-as-she goes companionate form of love we feel for friends, families and partners we’ve known a long time? Or are we talking about something else? Should love be overwhelming or considered? Perhaps it depends on our social context.

The experience and structures of love and intimacy in society have changed over time. Love in the Victorian Era involved published etiquette-based rules of courtship, and considerations of many things besides how one simply felt – there was one’s gender, class, finances, and the social respectability that came with marriage and family to keep in mind. Moving into contemporary times, Anthony Giddens describes the ‘transformation of intimacy’ in the later 20th century ‘late modern’ period, which continues today. We have so much more independence now from the constraints of traditional family and gender roles, that we can (and do) seek love and the ‘pure relationship’ in any number of forms. And Eva Illouz argues that this has created a society of commitment shy people – men in particular – and new inequalities in gender and intimacy.

What do you think? Has love changed? Is ‘all fair’ in love and sex these days?

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20 Comments

  1. Has love changed? In the attempt to answer this question I think it’s important to contrast different time periods. Love with the idea of intimacy is different to the love shared between a friend or family member. When considering this kind of ‘love’ I feel there are much more complicated notions attached to it. When looking at literature, for example, Snow White originally written in 1812, bases its story of love. In this tale, the damsel in distress is saved by a man who goes to the ends of the earth to find her. And is then married once he does. When looking at today’s popular culture on love this perception has changed. Look at the movie ‘The Other Woman’ for example which came out in 2014. The movie is based on a married man’s wife joining forces with his mistress for revenge. These are fine examples of how love has changed. As lllouz suggests in earlier dates men us to achieve status through his marriage and work. Today status is not gained as much through those aspects. Men today are said to gain status through being the ultimate ‘bachelor.’Women today feel a pressure to settle down, have the job and start a family. However, this isn’t implemented as much on men as women. Because of this time pressure, I feel women do in fact chase men. It’s a popular ideology to have it all, the husband, the family the job.

  2. Love has changed and evolved since the 18th and 19th centuries, as women during the Victorian era were mainly abstinent due to not being allowed to express their sexual and romantic feelings, with men having to win a women’s affection. (Patulny 2017) Whereas ideas about love started to change from the 1970’s, as attitudes towards divorce, sexuality, living alone and having children before marriage started to become more acceptable in society than once seen in the earlier periods of time. (Illouz 2012, p. 62) Anthony Giddens believes that this is due to the individualization of men and women wanting more freedom and choice as they want to move away from certain traditions and become more independent. (Jamieson 1999, p. 479) But Eva Illouz argues that due to this new change of love, men are now the ones who are nervous to commit, while women are happy to get married. She believes that this is due to the pressure on women to be married and the change of masculinity. (Patulny 2017) I feel that even though societies view on love has changed, I do agree with Illouz arguments as I feel that because women are on such pressure to become married and have children they tend to pressure men to be committed to them.

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  3. Love had many different faces and definitions throughout history, from the consideration of the matching circumstances of people into the strive for an emotional attachment (Illouz 2012 p. 61f). I think today due to the opening-up of the society everyone can make a decision how he/she wants to define love and how to perform it. I think the true perception hasn’t changed but there is a more general acceptance of a variety in our society.

    This on the one hand is a by-product of the general individualization-process and goal of freedom. I think a great example is how the meaning of marriage changed and it became less frequent (Illouz 2012 p. 60). Marriage is understood now as an too narrow system to represent every understanding of love! Also, I believe that the Hedonic Commitment Phobia (Illouz 2012 p. 78ff) is a result out of our individualized and free environment and the pressure to make the best choice – but there are so many that in the end some do not make one at all. Illouz describes it as the “overflowing with desire” (Illous 2012 p. 78), which I would interpret as also an overflow of choice.

    Giddens idea of the “high modernity” (Jamieson 1999 p. 478) that tradition are abolished nor more than ever is interesting, but I believe traditional views are still extremely influential and carried on in our society. Sometimes I have the impression that next to all the great movements (femineity, gay/lesbian/sexual freedom) there is also a cultural flow that is defying by wanting to abolishing all old/traditional ideas because “back then” everything was unequal. But I ask myself what comes after getting rid of all traditional view? Would that even be possible and do we want that? We are still living in a society where it the norm is to have one partner, to stay faithful and not cheat, aim for a long and steady relationship. Everything else is thankfully accepted and openly practiced – but I think deep down most of us are still very influenced by so called “traditional” ideas.

  4. I think the idea of love has changed over time and the way it is expressed as well. Traditionally one married for status and wealth – to please the family (almost like an arranged marriage to a degree). Love didn’t really come into it and in public, couples were restrained and composed. People remained married even if they were deeply unhappy. In todays’ society, love has everything to do with it and public displays of affection (PDA) are considered the norm. However, along with this freedom to express ourselves has come as Illouz (2012) explains, a generation of commitment-shy people not willing to “settle down” with just one person. This freedom, together with new technology has seen serial daters emerge from the woodwork. Men in particular who are quite happy to date a girl for a while, till the novelty wears off, only to dump her via text, and hook up with the next girl shortly thereafter. Is this a quest for the perfect girl or just a game?
    I think the biological response to love would be similar to that of our parents’ generation and even further back – experiencing butterflies in the stomach, lack/increase of appetite, can’t stop smiling. Love definitely puts you in a good mood and somehow makes everything around you more tolerable.
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  5. The way people perceive, act and endorse love has dramatically changed since the Victorian Era in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time there was a “…surge in publication of courtship manuals”, such as “The New Letter Writer” or “The Lover’s Guide to Courtship and Marriage” (Hughes 2008). These books took people through the process of “…all human life, and love” (Hughes 2008). In turn, removing the involvement of feelings within love, due to their actions being provided to them by a book. Where as in today’s society, we are moving towards a more ‘pure relationship’ archetype. That is, “…a relationship that presumes sexual and emotional equality”, gained through a development in modern society that is pushing for equal rights between men and women (Giddens 1992). However, ‘pure relationships’ are difficult to achieve in today’s society, “…especially for women, because men emotionally resist women’s attempts to commit to a long term relationship” (Illouz 2012, p.66). This trouble to commit in today’s society has been influenced by the increased freedom to choose one’s own partner. In turn, influencing a declined number of people wanting to be married, higher divorce rates and older age in which people decide to marry.

    By looking at these changes over time, I do believe love has changed within society from it being one of rules and constraints, to having more freedom in sexual acts and in whom we choose to have a relationship with. I think to have a successful relationship in today’s society we need to have the initial ‘passionate love’, which we feel towards someone we find “…relatively good looking, personable, affectionate and similar to ourselves” (Cherry 2016). While also having lasting ‘compassionate love’ “of mutual respect, trust and affection” for one’s partner (Cherry 2016). In having this kind of relationship, we can gain a new lease on love and sex, over come commitment issues that are dominant in modern society and gain a relationship which is balanced on “…mutual self-disclosure and appreciation of each other’s unique qualities” (Jamieson 1999, p.477).

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  6. For women, I believe that the idea of love and the many elements of love have not only changed over time… but aren’t considered a priority anymore. Simon, Eder & Evans in their article note that in the 80’s adolescent females commonly found to embrace “traditional feminine concerns of romance, marriage and domesticity and to reject both academic and athletic values” (1992, p. 33). I find it rather remarkable to see how much this has changed for women. Today, women are empowered and motivated more than ever. Falling in love, getting married, settling down, having kids- that’s no longer the social norm or the expectation. Education and careers have become a top priority for many, which is understandable, because as we’ve all heard before “your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you”.

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  7. Social change has led to changes in sex, relationships and love. Different eras have brought with them different ways in which people portray and explore love. In the modern era I would argue that love has the ability to be of a more passionate nature. People are now expected to act on their passions and desires for romance – portrayed throughout the numerous romantic comedies we see made every year- but historically ‘love’ was something completely different if you could even call it that at all. In the Victorian era ‘love’ was something of convenience, a means to an end relationship of status and the obtaining of wealth. Now love is more free and has a basis of equality and disclosure (Jameison 1999). Although love is now openly (in some cultures) acted upon and welcomed in contrast to the Victorian era and prior, it does not mean it didn’t exist then. Shakespeare famous Romeo and Juliet was written in the late 1500’s and it makes continual reference to passionate all-consuming love even though this love was not a typical factor of historic relationships.
    Love is an ambiguous idea throughout history. Now relationships and sex are ways in which many people explore themselves and their freedoms openly – something which would have been shunned throughout a lot of history. Different people are looking for different kinds of love. Whether some people are looking for a passionate love and others are looking for companionate more forms of love are accepted. Illouz argues of a commitment phobia which arises from this freedom – that men assert their power through sexual relations with numerous women as opposed to committing to a long term relationship – I disagree on the basis that age and maturity are primary factor in someone’s desire to move away from sexual freedom and into a lasting relationship.

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  8. Yes. Love has indeed changed immensely throughout modern society. However, I question whether love itself has changed or simply the pathway towards properly finding love. I find this question to be supported through evidence found within lecture material and our required reading by Ilouz. Specifically, these topics discuss the idea of commitment phobia and emotional inequality. Ilouz highlights how courtships have drastically changed since the 19th century. During this time, it was all about the man ‘wooing’ and impressing the woman whom he had taken interest in. Simply put: the men were chasing after the women. Yet, in this present day, we find that the very opposite is starting to occur. Men are becoming more detached and hesitant to commit to a single partner. As a result, women are doing most of the ‘chasing’ in order to find a sense of commitment. Personally, I find that I side with Ilouz’s assertion regarding the establishment of emotional inequality between men and women. Women can express their emotions all they want, but ultimately it is the man’s decision about whether or not he will settle down with that woman…a system that is incredibly unfair. I think that more and more we are seeing efforts made by women to break this inequality (i.e. women proposing, etc.), but I question how society will try to shut these attempts down? What will it take for men and women to exist on the same level when it comes to the complexities surrounding love, sex and intimacy?

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  9. I don’t feel that “love” itself has changed. More so how we view relationships. Love will always be love, a feeling we get from being close to someone, from caring about someone, whether that be a partner or family. I believe how relationships are accepted within society is very different these days. For example the Victorian era, where marriage was not so much based on “love”, but if two people happened to come from the same class and social group, to now, where this is not really taken into much consideration. Also if you look at homosexual relationships and how they are broadly (mostly) accepted. This was always love, it is now just an acceptable way to view love within a relationship.

  10. Absolutely the use of the word love has changed since the Victorian Era, back then women weren’t able to express there sexual desires or romantic feelings they had to wait for male advances (Ilouz, 2012). Women were also said to be ‘natural’ at resisting sexual temptation, but examples such as Seinfields episode with ‘The Bet’ proved that women can be just as impolsive as men.
    In the Victorian Era the men were expected to chase the women but these days it can be either way, but due to the older generations experiences of men always being the intiation of relationships. There is a lingering perception that men still have to ask the women were as some women don’t believe in that. So the our generation at the moment can go either way. (Giddens).
    But in terms of love it definetly has changed. It is no longer a match of classes or worth. These days I believe it is expressed more through the heart.

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  11. The world of “love” in which we live has drastically changed over time. Some may say the Victorians had it right with their respectful courtship and arranged marriages, whereas others may say the modern form of intimacy and passionate love has truly transformed love for the better. I can not say that i’d prefer the Victorian Era for I have not lived in it and can’t compare, but I will say that I respect the aspect that women have more power today, and more free will to express themselves sexually in a relationship. Gidden focuses on this ‘transformation of intimacy’ that involves the equalizing of gender importance within a relationship. This idea shows that women in modern society are beginning to gain more control and have more of a say when it comes to their romantic relationships and the dynamic with their partners.

    Some critique that this change has caused men to be more fearful of relationships due to the idea of losing full control. I agree and understand why men are more fearful, however, I feel women are also fearful of this aspect. Although women are given more control with romance in Modern Society, love is still associated as a loss of control for both men and women. It involves the idea of sharing your heart and trust with another human, and by giving a piece of yourself to the other, you are losing a sense of stability. So to answer the question “is all fair in love and sex these days?” No. However, I don’t think love will ever be completely fair. It is hard to envision a relationship with complete equal trust and equal control, and for that reason I think it is impossible to define love as fair.

  12. The feelings of love may not have changed for the majority of people, but how they are shown and acted upon have defiantly changed. Love is an intimate feeling between two people, it does not necessarily need to be romantic love, can be companions love as well. The point being that how society chooses to see what is acceptable for people to act upon has changed. A great change from the Victorian Era where men had to be the ones to approach women. In 2017 this is simply not the case. Modern love now includes technology playing a huge role in both communicating with partners and finding potential ones through dating apps such as Tinder. So love it’s self is still the same feelings as it always has been. The new and exciting heart beating fast and feeling of excitement. Now how those feels are shown have changed. Some of these are positive changes while others I’m sure will continue to change with how society is changing.

  13. It is certainly true that we have come far in the transformation of ‘love’ and intimacy and how it is socially accepted to be interpreted. What love actually is still faces discussion nonetheless, perhaps because there are different types of love and because even within each display of romantic love, different types of partners act differently towards each other.

    Whilst displays of love may not have changed dramatically, the way in which people go about starting romantic relationships have. In the Victorian era, the glamorisation of women was a way of enticing men into love and sexual partnerships. This may still be inherent within today’s society but what is perhaps most interesting is the way in which glamour and vanity is used by men to gain influence and power over the opposite sex. It is undeniable that in today’s society, men are just as interested, perhaps even more so, in their appearance and attaining a certain ‘look’ to appear desirable. Perhaps most clearly evident in the transformation and rise of social media, both sexes are keen to use the notion of glamour in order to court.

    Arguably the role of class and finances are not stripped away either. Particularly within the upper classes, the sexes still tend to find partners within their social strata. This may appear backward to some, but surely this should not be too unexpected when love and relationships are based on common connections? If this much is true, it is questionable the extent to which such boundaries will ever be fully transgressed so that it is commonplace for people of different social classes and respectability to converge.

  14. Love comes in all forms through contexts. I feel love for my friends, my family, pets even. I believe Hollywood creates certain illusions of ‘love’, whether it be Disney princesses or ‘rom-coms’. These films can create unrealistic expectations of love. The concept of love has evolved over time. However I question whether freely expressing love has become a more socially accepted idea rather than the evolution of the feeling of love. For example in the Victorian Era, love was tied to marriage that must be between a man and a woman, in the same social class. Marriages were often arranged and sexuality was not able to be freely expressed. Today, sexuality is freely expressed and a good example of this is the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras which showcases the LGBTQI community to create awareness and equality. I don’t believe we are at the point of all being fair in love and sex. Totally equality needs to be reached in order to agree with that statement.

  15. I don’t think love is ‘fair’ these days, and it probably never will be, because how do you love normally? What is the healthy kind of love? It used to be that courtship was the way to go about marriage. Common results of that were the constrictions against marrying according to how someone feels about another person, instead of other social factors such as class. Now, the issue pertaining to relationships is based on a relationship based with a foundation of emotions. Just like when we had a lecture about rationale and emotions, it seems to me that relationships are based on more emotional train of thoughts. For example, I think love these days has become based off of infatuation and feelings of romance, rather than companionship like in the past. This is problematic because relationships that are mostly companionship based with touches of romantic types of love support long lasting relationships. I feel a companion relationship was encouraged with courting back in the days, and that is something we have lost. Not that we should revert to courtship, but dating solely on emotional reasoning isn’t the best way to base a relationship off of.
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  16. I suppose it depends on what ‘love’ is referring to, the ‘oxytocin reaction’ or the social relationships experienced by individuals. I don’t think ‘love’ itself has changed, but more so the social value placed upon it and the interactions people have with it as a relation. I think Anthony Giddens’ ideas on reflexivity and the transformation of intimacy is important here. As a society, we have begun to move away from traditional views regarding relationships towards what Giddens’ terms the ‘pure relationship’. The rise of plastic sexuality has lessened the importance of traditional constraints on the experience of love/intimacy by changing the focus of the structures surrounding it (heterosexuality). As Eva Illouz argues this has caused an erosion of the traditional gender constructs of masculinity and femininity, and is thus causing massive shifts in interactions regarding love (commitment phobia among men, for instance).

  17. I think there are basic fundamentals of love that we are born with > nature. We are born (for the most part) out of and in to love, we experience companionate love and grow up loving our family and friends in the “comfortable way.” i think that’s why we can’t explain that sort of love, it feels a part of us. I think we then develop other types of love > nurture. We start getting attracted to people and start experiencing that sexual love. I think the reason that i don’t believe in soul mates is because i think you can love numerous partners in your life, just as much as each other. Love is so complex that is keeps changing, it doesn’t have rules, but it does have those bodily functions and fundamentals.
    Today it’s the change of gender roles and technology that has changed the way that people love. Women have started expressing their sexuality just as much as the men, this has obviously been result of feminism and i think it has boomed just after the Woodstock era. And even more recently with “hook-up” sites like Tinder and Grindr. The reason that i don’t refer to these sites as dating sites is because i believe that they are used for that detached attached approach of just having sex.
    But does one night stands really come under the label of love? No. Love to me is something developed over a period of time (longer than a night) between two individuals, based on more grounds than sex.

  18. ‘One’s gender, class, finances, and the social respectability’ are still implicit markers we consider in the pursuit of love. We might not speak openly about it and maybe their quantitative and value measures have changed or have been blurred but we still rely on these things to find what we are looking for.

    I definitely believe the idea of love has changed. My parents idea of love and sacrifice is remarkably different to what our generation are willing to commit to. On that note our consumerist society, wanting all the options and being afraid to pick one just in case a better option comes along, I believe has really screwed us up.

    In regards to whether all is fair in love and sex, I believe it never was. Victorian passiveness was the plague for young women but in comparison to now I’m not sure that the ability for men and women to be more outward about their desires, needs and wants has really made things more fair for either gender regardless of their sexual orientation. I definitely agree with Giddens that we have more opportunity to be able to feel things more openly and I would say this largely has to do with our social media platforms which encourage personal expression regardless of spatio-temporal context. Women are beginning to be more outright about their sexual needs and maybe a little more picky with their expectations and needs from love. We are no longer passive princesses. Men on the other hand are seemingly becoming more vague about what they want out of love and still as open about sexuality. So maybe there has been a swap in approaches but little change in restrictiveness. I definitely do not believe the result has made us more happy in our relationships.

    I’ve not been in love yet though, at least I don’t think I have so maybe when and if I do ever fall in love, everything I ever thought will change.

  19. I think love has changed as the discourse and connotations surrounding the word have evolved. This is also relevant to what kind of love you are referring to. Love is relative; and I believe the meaning and expectations that follow the word are always in retrospect to the context, situation and environment. The love that is shared between family and friends varies culturally, and it is hard to pinpoint in that sense, whether love has ‘changed’ or if the way in which we display it to one another has. This is the same with intimate relationships – I doubt that the actual feeling of passionate love has changed from the Victorian era, but perhaps merely the changes in the way people display this affection. Second to this, the freedom of choice surrounding this love has changed. In our western society, it is the growing norm to be able to choose who you love and the ability to display that love how you want without being reprimanded. I think with progressive discourse about feminism, LGBTQI communities and race equality it is beginning to seem that all is fair in love and sex these days, however this is all relative to cultural environments – but I believe in a modern sense there is a lot more acceptance of love in all its varied definitions.

  20. In response to the post, I think love should be both overwhelming and considered. No necessarily in the divide mentioned where sexualised passionate love is reserved for one’s partner and companionate love for a friend, but where these varying expressions of love can be felt and expressed to one person in the right time and place. There is a time and place where you experience this heart-pounding, overwhelming love, but we should know when to take a step back and just appreciate someone’s company. It is this synergy that I believe is required for this pure relationship that Jamieson (1999, p.477) quotes Giddens on.
    Although the way we express it has changed, I don’t believe love itself has. Love is love, it is however we express and feel it and because of this it cannot change, just the way we see it and experience it does. Illouz (2012) makes not of the changes such as widespread abstinence in the Christian centuries and this commitment phobia in men due to changes in what it is to be masculine. This may point out different ways in which love is being approached and experienced, but down to its core, love is still love.

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