Monday, March 5, 2012

Being a Lady: Self-Respect or Anti-Feminist?

Being an obsessive addict of Pinterest (like most women these days, especially Mormons I think), I have come across some wonderful crafts, recipes, decorations, and quotes. Among them was this one:

Oh man, just look at that misogynistic prick on the floor.

It has a very odd comment thread. My study in “lady-like” is as follows, through the eyes of pinners.
What I like about this quote isnt that it is saying women are being "a lady" for men or that she is doing it for approval...or that woman are responsible for men being gentleman. From a systemic approach, it is simply saying that as women act and respond to dignity and respect, then men may feel challenged to treat women with dignity and respect. I really like the idea and concept of the challenge to both genders.
See! It’s a challenge to ourselves, men and women, to be our best selves, right?
I disagree, I think what gets women into trouble is the belief that they need male approval. I think to suggest that women are responsible for the way men behave is as degrading and belittling to men-who are responsible for their own behavior-as it is women.

Nevermind, maybe it’s just yet another way to beg us to get back to our 50s selves, back when white hetero men of the middle class had it easy. (Don't get offended folks, I'm being funny). Nothing more than Stepford Wives who live in the kitchen.
No it is one more lie to keep women oppressed. The fact is, women have been forced to act like ladies for centuries to be kept in their place as second class citizens, and guess what? Men were still NOT gentlemen. How much more proof do you need than that? Wake up, ladies!! AFter centuries of being treated as property and second class citizens, we should be kind and supportive of each other. Not blaming each other for the defects of men.
While I will not argue that men are free of defects, I would argue that I have never felt like a second class citizen.
One should never depend on the other......what a wonderful world it would truly be!!
Would it though? Isn't interdependence (NOT codependency, so we're clear) what we teach our children to aim for in a good marriage and a happy life?
Since when does acting like a lady become oppressing? And since when being called a "lady" an insult. That's what's fascinating to me. Stop thinking old school and think in present time. You can be a "lady" and get the respect YOU DESERVE. Of course there are men out there that will not respect a woman no matter. But I believe most will. Even if you don't act like a lady. It just comes down to what you want for yourself, regardless of what the other is doing. Remember people it's an "I wonder if..." not a proven fact.
Oh hey, someone else almost likes it. This is the first person to point out that the quote is merely musing at a different world.
Stop spreading it around girls. Act like a lady, get treated like one. Oh you don't want to be treated like a lady? Good. You can filter all the riff raff out for me.
Some people have a little sense. (Emphasis on little.)
Oh my gosh. Being a lady just means respecting yourself.
That's kind of what I thought...
Gag me with this misogynistic crap. One does not/should not have to follow the other.
Wait, what? I'm starting to feel like I missed something. I didn't realize this was a decree for us all to line up and play follow the leader.
Soooo, let's say we remove the part about gentlemen altogether, since this is a "what if?" after all. Does this still offend some women?
That's what I'm beginning to think, but then, a self-proclaimed feminist puts it the way I feel best defines it.
It's interesting how much we all project onto the term lady. Many people are reading more into this quote than it says. Being a lady doesn't mean you HAVE to keep your legs pinned together, that you can't be and think for yourself, that you can't have a sense of humor or even be rebellious, that you can't dress the way you want to. It's just about having a sense of inner-dignity no matter what you do, and showing respect for both yourself and others. And, no, showing respect to others (male or female) does not imply submission. If our own behavior inspires others (again, male or female) to treat themselves (or me) better, then that is lovely. It in no way means that I am responsible for their behavior. But we live in relationship with each other, resond to each other, influence each other. The quote is not saying that you must cater to the ridiculous image of women that men have historically tried to impose on us. It is really just saying "Improve yourself, others may follow." Nothing sexist about that.
Honestly, being a lady means so many different things, that someone, somewhere is going to get upset every time it gets brought up, especially nowadays. I have no idea as to how this all became such a touchy subject, but here we are.

To me, being a lady means having self-respect, treating other right, and being modest. No, I don't mean the Young Women's definition of modesty that includes a list of what you can and can't wear. I mean actual modesty, which by definition is "1. ...freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc. 2. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress... 3. simplicity, moderation" What's so terrible about that?

I myself particularly enjoy quotes about being lady-like. I find them to be inspiring to my sex, and an opportunity to reflect on my self-respect and my self-worth. What about you?


  1. I suppose it's a touchy subject because women have so many people, especially men, telling them how they must act to be considered a lady. Just for a couple of very recent examples: Foster Friess and the "aspirin between your knees" comment, Limbaugh and his comments about Ms. Fluke. I do not find the discussed quote personally offensive, but I do not happen to find it "inspiring" either. Just..... meh.

    And I tend to shy away from anonymous comment threads. People tend to become very acidic and ridiculous when they are anonymous (although this particular thread seemed rather mild; not sure if you were quoting verbatim or paraphrasing).

    1. I was quoting verbatim (hence the spelling and other grammar mistakes) and it wasn't anonymous either, which surprised me that all these people complete with facebook names were getting so acidic. I linked to the pin itself at the beginning, the entire comment thread is below the pin.

      I can understand why it's touchy, but I don't understand why people get like that over something that is less than offensive.

      And thanks for reading, Milli. Miss your face.

  2. You know, I love the term "lady." In fact, I use it when I speak to my female friends or to my daughter, because I think it's one of the dearest things I can call them. And when I think of the definition of lady, I think Merriam-Webster defines it best:

    "b : a woman of refinement and gentle manners
    c : woman, female —often used in a courteous reference"

    I think if more people (men and women) used sense, manners, and respect toward those around them, more people (men and women) would rise to the occasion.

    1. Well said, Natalia. PS - Even if we don't get to go to your birthday party, we plan to have a going away party before we leave...

  3. I like to think of it this way: It's my responsibility to be a gentleman, whatever exactly that means, regardless of the circumstances and behavior of others. If others happen to respond positively to that, then great. Likewise, a woman can be a lady (again, however she defines that) for her own dignity and if that influences the behavior of others, then all the better.