LORELAI: Rory, do you know what a coming out party says?
RORY: It says I’m a woman now.
LORELAI: No. It says, ‘Hi, I’m Rory. I’m of good breeding and marriageable age, and I will now parade around in front of young men of similarly good breeding and marriageable age so they can all take a good long look at me.’
Originally, becoming a debutante was a marker that a young woman was old enough to be married, and part of their purpose was to display her to a select circle of eligible bachelors, with the hope that one of them might marry her.
These days, few expect a teenager to get married – as Rory says, they are usually seen as a celebration that a girl has reached a certain level of maturity, and provide a chance to show off her appearance, style, and accomplishments. (Emily does love to show Rory off, and is given few chances to).
Lorelai is being a bit old-fashioned in her views, although she’s not exactly wrong either, as social events such as a debutante ball do give opportunities to meet people of a similar age and background, which might one day lead to something more. Of course, that could happen at any social function. It’s not as if girls are kept hidden away from the world until they make their debut any more.
Lorelai’s ideas would have been forward-thinking in, say, 1930, but seem a bit quaint for 2001. Her feminism always seems to be a generation or two behind the times.