Are you a Gentlewoman?
Posted by Gail | Filed under Thinking Out Loud
Just before Christmas last year, a young friend of mine (she’s just turned 21) sent me a link to an article about the difference between a Lady and a Gentlewoman and said she had thought of me. I read the article and was very flattered. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Why is it that so many women focus so much on things that are less about Gentlewomanly things like being strong and responsible and more about being shallow and agreeable Ladies?
Why do women act like martyrs? “Oh, no, no, you have the last (whatever)…. I’ll be fine.” I was at lunch one day with my crew when we were served very sad looking salads. Three of us had the same salad, which was supposed to be robust because the price tag was $24. I asked the waitress to bring the manager.
When the manager arrived I said, “This salad may be a $7.99 salad, but it certainly isn’t the $24 salad you promised me.” I then listed the ingredients (like steak) that were in short supply or completely missing (avocado).
The rest of the table was very quiet. When the manager asked my dining companions if they were okay, everyone nodded. As soon as he left, some started grumbling about their meals. Really?
When was the last time you saw a man put his hand over his mouth before he laughed? When have you ever seen men concerned about sending anachronistic thank-you cards? And do men really wonder if their underwear is appropriate for the clothes they’re wearing? (Women have t-shirt bras, obsess about panty lines, and judge others on the colour of their underwear.)
I’m all for things like being punctual (both Ladies and Gentlewomen are), but I’m focused on more important things than place cards at the dinner table. And I’m much more likely to thank you for doing me a favour in some real way (a lunch out, a home-potted plant) than by filling out a card. I don’t find it hard to say no to unreasonable requests. (Ladies often do.) And I’m not about to put up with crap (service or otherwise) just because it isn’t polite to be loud.
I was standing in a very long line in the grocery store the other day. (Hey, the express line isn’t express if it’s nine people deep!) I said in a very loud voice, “We need another check-out opened.” Two things happened. A check-out person told me to be patient, to which I responded, “I don’t have to be patient, I’m the customer, get a line open quickly please.” The second thing: as soon as the line opened, the person in front of me tried to get there first. Really? Just seconds before she was completely happy to be eighth in line. I calmly walked in front of her and said, “If you had the balls to get the line open, you could be first.” Then I put my stuff in front of her stuff.
Some people think of me as bullish. What I’m not is a simpering wuss. I have all kinds of time for people who need my help, I share what I have and what I know willingly with family and friends, and I would sooner chop off my hand than hurt someone I love. I take responsibility for myself, and I hold others to the same standard I hold myself.
Being polite used to be the be-all and end-all for women. Don’t make too much noise, don’t be better at stuff and brag about it, don’t be adversarial. Admonishments like, “You can win more flies with honey than with vinegar” make me retch. First, I’m not interested in flies, I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Second, why are honey and vinegar the only options?