Alpha Hubby and I were talking the other day. I don’t remember what triggered the conversation but we began chatting about the lost art of being a lady (and, I’m sure, being a gentleman).
I know a lot of us grew up with some seemingly ridiculous rules. I remember when I was a teen it was considered bad form – very bad manners – to eat while walking down the street (such as downtown small town USA). Not even an apple – it just wasn’t done.
And shorts? No way did you wear shorts out in public to places like the store or anywhere you should have “dressed” to go to. Shorts were for play, period. I remember wearing dresses and skirts with stockings and garters – and even remember when my mom switched us to pantyhose. Funny thing about pantyhose (invented in mid-50′s) is that they were not that big a hit until late 60′s and the rise of the miniskirt. What a huge blessing – no more garters showing! Men around the world cried.
Funny how now I am back to wearing garters and stockings. For a different reason, though. Hmm. That is a post for another day.
Chewing gum – have you ever seen someone on television chomping away on a piece of gum? I always want to go whack them on the back of the head, put my hand in front of their mouth and say, “Spit that out, you look like a cow chewing its’ cud.” (Shades of my mother’s voice!)
And while some of the rules we lived by when I was young may have been ridiculous and strange, it is what we knew and dictated who we were. We knew we were young ladies. It was never in doubt.
Of course, everything I grew up knowing ran head on into the Free Love generation. That rule-breaking generation. Hippies, Woodstock, flowing hair with leather headbands, bell bottom jeans, vests with fringe, floppy suede hats, granny dresses, and things that pretty much destroyed everything we grew up knowing as true. We were freeeeee of those pesky rules. We were hip. We were where it was at. We were THE in crowd. No wonder we went nuts when we went off to college!
Okay, okay – maybe I was a bit young to be there – I mean Jimi Hendrix is just a little before my time, but that generation did influence mine strongly. It no longer mattered that we were not to do this or that. We were more focused on doing what we wanted to do, to be totally against the establishment. Far out, man!
And so that brings us to today. Crotch-shots. Daisy-dukes that show more butt crack than a plumber without a belt. Boobs hanging out everywhere and usually NOT in a sexy way. Drunken hook-ups on reality television shows. Naked survival shows. Women who curse worse than any sailor ever did. Yeah, that’s because it is so much easier to say the F-word, right?
When people cursed in front of my mom she’d say, so sweetly, “Oh I’m so sorry. Obviously you are not smart enough to come up with more intelligent words to express yourself” as she patted them on the arm like they weren’t quite bright – including her boss. Who roared with laughter but never cursed in front of her again (at least not without apologizing profusely).
Women think it is “smart” and “with-it” to let fly curse words all throughout their blog posts now. When did saying “fu*k” become an acceptable form of expression, the “in” thing to do rather than expressing oneself more intelligently? I don’t know either. I am not judging those who do this – far from it. I’m just trying to make a point.
Where did the rules go? Were they all bad? Was knowing what was expected of you so bad that we let all the rules go and are now hard-pressed to teach the younger generation how to be ladies? I can even hear sneering and jesting about that line – “how to be ladies” – it is a lost art.
Where did ladies go? The kind men apologized to if they’d let fly a curse word in front of her? Where did the genteel women go that young girls would strive to emulate? Those ladies who knew how to put that pinkie finger out when sipping from a beautiful tea cup? Even sweet Southern ladies and their “Bless your heart” have turned more brittle and harsh. Where are the ladies? And where did the women go who cared about things like that? We’re not talking “Housewives of Blahdy Blah” here. Can we get any more crass, people?
Alpha Hubby asked where the women went who earned respect instead of demanding it. Or who cared about looking good for their men rather than worrying more about not being thought of as old-fashioned instead of a feminist? I hate that word “feminist” – hate it. Loath it. Despise it. It has become a catch-word to excuse rude, nasty and sometimes lazy behavior. “I don’t have to do THAT, I’m a feminist.”
No you’re not a feminist. You are a huge wanna be. Speaking as someone who was a part of or who is from or was around the loud generation of women who started the NOW organization, and supported Gloria Steinem whom they call the “Mother of Feminism” (and that I beg to differ with since there were so many, many women before her who paved the way including our mothers). That loud generation of women from the 60’s only got noticed because of the availability of television, newspapers and magazines to promote, advertise or report on them.
Yes, those women worked hard for rights like the right to be paid equally for working the same job that a man did (which, unfortunately still isn’t true for a lot of women) but so did women generations before them – before the availability to share and spread the knowledge. Each generation thinks they were the first to invent the wheel.
Ugh. Don’t get me started. My mom said to me once, “I am not a feminist. That is simply a label people put on themselves or others. I am not a label. I am a woman who does exactly what she wants to do. But I am also supported by a man who loves me. Together we make choices for our family so sometimes I may not get to do something because he has to come first. Sometimes I get to do something because he made a sacrifice for me.
“But I love your father. I fix his lunches for him before he goes to work even though I work, too. Why? Because I love him and want to give to him. I do a lot of things women now call old-fashioned and things they stopped doing because they want to be perceived as a feminist.
“That is just a word. That word has come to mean a lot of bad things that have nothing to do with being free to be yourself. Don’t live up to that label. Do what you want to do because YOU want to do it, not because a group of people, male or female, say you can or can’t. I have been blessed to be able to do work at anything I’ve wanted to do – sometimes a field predominantly belonging to men way back when. I just do, not talk. I just am, and not because of a label.”
In Army-Air Corps as Link Trainer Instructor training young men to be future pilots
My mom was a lady to her core. She dressed up to go places. She put her makeup on to be in public. She did her nails and hair. She also owned and flew her own plane and trained men to be future pilots as a Link Trainer Instructor (comparable to today’s flight simulators). My dad was the most important person in her life. She was the most important person in his life. Together they had an amazing marriage full of love, passion and romance. She gave to him, he gave to her. She gave up things to be with him – to be a wife and mother and not a career woman (until after the kids were a certain age). She never regretted it for one second according to her own words.
This is a long post that probably rambled off course but I wanted to make a point. That point is – there should be differences between men and women. I have a husband who opens my car door (he forced trained convinced me to accept that he wants to do that for me). I was a career woman and I was an at-home mother. I have been able to be my best me because of him. I want to be feminine for him – but I’m also a tomboy. I am a lady.
Now days girls and women are so busy acting like none of this matters that they are losing something valuable and precious. They are losing a part of what made them special, separate from men. Being a lady is an art and is a wonderful thing to be. Women today have lost more than that art. They’ve lost respect.