Etiquette At It's Finest

December 9, 2010
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Throughout time, women have been expected to uphold a certain social role based on societies expectations. Us as “ladies”, have a set of rules and regulations to maintain our lady like figure; these rules, also known as etiquette, can be overwhelming at times because it may seem that society has set our bar much higher than lets say that of a man for instance. Why is it that women, as a group, are expected to fall into this tight mold to simply be a lady? If one were to view this subject in terms of a man, why is it that men can so easily slip through the cracks because they are “just men.” Not only our appearance as women has to be clean and proper looking but also our thoughts actions and words need to meet societies expectations. Why us, why not men, or simply why not both groups? In the following paragraphs you will experience an interaction between two people that very likely you have witnessed before or been a part of, if that is not the case, sit back and try to picture yourself in this situation.
“No mopping!” she says, as I rudely wipe the sauce stains off my mouth. “Be a lady!” At this moment all I hear is lady this lady that while my mother stands there with her hand on her hip pointing to the napkin that is already not on my lap. Why do I have to be a lady? Lady like people will go further in this world than those that lack etiquette she has said over and over. You must be polite and proper. And again I think to myself, mind you I simply think for if I speak my thoughts I will be reminded that I am disrespectful to my elders, that if a man sits at the dinner table and as she says mops the food off his face, he is simply using the napkin. But then it is my turn because my aim was not precise and the portion of food on my fork was not rationed to fit in my mouth so now I must dab the corners of my mouth and the perimeter of my lips because “’I’m a lady”. Right, me a lady. “STOP SPACING OUT AND COME BACK TO THE DINNER TABLE YOU ARE BEING RUDE!!!” she sternly whispers in my ear as she pinches the back of my arm. “s$#!, that hurt,” I yell and immediately I realize that that probably was not the best choice of words as her glare rips me to pieces from the inside out. I can almost see the flames rising from my mother’s head as I slowly drop in my chair. It was as if the previous moment came and disappeared instantly and now my mother was antagonizing me for yet again another piece of my appearance at the dinner table: slouching in my chair. “Shoulders back, elbows off the table, legs crossed, head held up high” she starts murmuring as she gently pokes the food off of her plate with her dinner fork. At this point in time I can only simply listen to her commands unless I plan on digging my grave even deeper although my thoughts continue. ‘What, are we going to bring back the corset’s too? Maybe I should just stop breathing…is that good enough for you,” are the words I hear in my head. “Don’t forget to smile, it’s not polite to frown at guests nor is it any of their business as to why you’re frowning in the first place.” I wonder, does she not see her husband sitting across the table shoveling food into his mouth or sitting slouched with his elbows on the table? Is that in anyway okay? I am sitting here not even able to breathe while the men across the table burp and whipe there dirty hands on their pants. This is a joke right?
Sadly, this is no joke. It is reality, the reality that men and women have different assigned roles. We cook, and we clean, and we take care of our children, while we work and try to stay sane, while maintaining this perfect lady like figure who sits up straight, holds the fork properly, and speaks clearly with a language that lacks profanity and slang. Speech and language is another huge part of being a lady. There is a difference between truck drivers and high-class women for a reason. Here is another scenario for you.
Today, as I was walking down the streets of Boston and quietly minding my own business, I overhear a group of males talking behind me. They are yelling “f!@#$ this, f!@# that” because they were angry about some matter. Clearly, these men have a little bit of a temper but me, if I go around saying f!@# this f!@# that, well I have a potty mouth and I am trashy. This is even worse then being un-lady like. There I go, off the list of potential ladies because I swear and mop my mouth. How is it that he can get away with a couple of f-bombs here and there because he is just a little ticked off about something, when me on the other hand, can’t even slip a s*** or b**** into my sentence while I am fuming because
“I am a lady and ladies don’t do that.”

Sugar and spice and everything nice is the cliché that goes hand and hand with the social stigma of women in society. Think of the sugar and spice as a thick coating covering the aggression that us women occasionally harbor and think of this coating as something men don’t have. Aggression is not the only factor that is coated by “something nice,” promiscuity in many cases is too. The following scenario portrays men as just being men and women as promiscuous.
“Dude I just screwed that chick last night” he said. “Man she is hot, mad props dude.” his buddy replies. But he’s just a man, not a s***, not a w****. If that were to happen to me on the other hand, “did you hear she had sex with that boy she just met last night, she’s such a w****” Really, I’m the w****, and what number girl was that chick last night?
Social etiquette, as one may call it, is very different between men and women in cases like these. Words such as s*** and w**** are used to define women who slip away from the “lady like” structure more quickly then they would be to define a man who has sex with a few ladies. I am not advocating that promiscuous actions are in anyway appropriate, but either way, men and women should come with or without titles such as these.
In an ideal world, social stigmas and social expectations would not exist, but this world is far from ideal. One must work to understand that men and women are treated very differently by social standards, that proper etiquette for men means something different than proper etiquette for “a lady.” If women are expected to reach those standards and act like ladies, men should start to break away from what is fine for them and reach what is expected of us.





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