Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ladies and Gentlemen...oh, you know who you are...

A recent question posed on a discussion board made me think about what it means to be a "lady."

It seems that the person in question, a female person, was leaving a theater alone, at night, and as she is unmarried (or "a single female person"), one of the men at the play should have offered her an escort to her car, since that is what a "gentleman" does for a "lady."


While I can understand the need for safety, it occurs to me that if one is a modern, liberated sort of woman who freely goes somewhere alone, that free-wheeling liberal hippie left-wing humanist non-Fox-news-watching liberation doesn't miraculously stop at sunset, transforming this independent woman into a helpless mass of "lady."

In the olden days, a "lady" would have never been allowed to leave after dark without an escort, it is true.  In the days when "lady" and "gentleman" really meant something, a "lady" would have never found herself in the situation of requiring an escort, because no "lady" would have gone by herself in the first place, and if there was a car, she certainly wouldn't have been driving it.

Here are some of the other things a "lady" could not do:

1. Show her ankles
2. Admit to a pregnancy; this meant staying home from about the 3 month mark until the chloroform wore off.
3. Go anywhere, at any time, alone
4. Wear clothing that hinted she might have two legs as opposed to one tubular appendage with miniscule, slippered feet attached.
5. Perform "in public" (be paid to perform)
6. Work (for money; most "ladies" did a great deal of work but were not paid)
7. Leave the house without the paper bag covering her head (Okay, I made that one up)

I don't know about you, but that list does not make me nostalgic for the days in which women of a certain social class and/or economic level were "ladies."

So, if we no longer are constrained by the shackles of the past, why do some people still expect the same courtesies?  Women are fully capable of opening their own doors, picking up their own handkerchiefs, and walking into a room by themselves.  Why do some women expect men to treat them as equals in the workplace, but expect to be catered to socially?

I'm not sure, but I believe the expression is, "To have one's cake on the pot with a horn of a petard."

Speaking personally, I don't really consider myself a "lady."  I try to have good manners and treat other people with courtesy, but I definitely don't have the delicate sensibilities that the word "lady" brings to mind.  I laugh when people pass gas.  There, I said it.  I am no lady.  However, when a man does something nice for me, like opening a door, or offering to walk me to my car after dark, provided that it is a man I know, it's nice.  I never expect it, certainly, but it is nice.  I also extend those courtesies to others, regardless of gender.

When Sven offers to go and get the car and drive to the front to pick me up, I don't think, "Exactly as it should be," but "I have a wonderful husband."  When a buddy walks me to my car after a church meeting, I'm not thinking, "He's doing his duty," but rather, "What a good friend."

What bothers me is the expectation.  The entitlement.  The attitude that any man who doesn't rush to the aid of every woman in his presence is somehow "not a gentleman."  That may very well be true.  But I can assure you, the woman making that accusation is no lady.

Provided she left her hoopskirts at home, of course.

So what do you think?  What makes a woman a "lady" in 2010?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Awesome Resolutions 2010

(My last entry was my real resolutions for this year.  Here are my awesome resolutions for 2010, inspired by the trending topic of the same name on Twitter (I am @Kaydeb).)

I resolve that this year I will use the word "hump" more often.

I resolve that this year I will throw a glass of water in someone's face and say, "How dare you?"

I resolve that this year I will master a roundhouse kick, making my "Road House" reenactments more realistic.

I resolve that this year I will convince at least one new acquaintance that I am British.

I resolve that I will be horribly embarrassing to my children this year by belting out '80's power anthems at little or no provocation.

I resolve that I will say, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore," at least twice a day.

I resolve that I will squint knowingly and nod when I don't know the answer.

I resolve that my prank phone calls will take up less of my leisure time.

I resolve to re-establish my amateur Goth status.

I resolve to assign different military rank to various body parts and promote the ones who please me.  The ones who do not will receive demotions and emotional exclusion.  Colonel Finger is pleased.  Private Pinky Toe is in despair.  That is as it should be.

I resolve to patronize more restaurants in which it is required to eat with one's hands.  It's good for the skin.

I resolve to learn to play a musical instrument that does not, currently, exist.

I resolve to nickname someone close to me "Chachi."

It's going to be a great year.