Monday, August 27, 2012

My Thought's On For Harriet's "Why Would I Want to Be A Lady"

Sigh...I just read an article on For Harriet called "Why Would I Want to be a Lady?" It was written by the editor and creator of the blog. I do subscribe to it but I don't read many of the articles because I'm trying to get away from being outraged all the time. I think that the article echos a lot of what young women today think and there was a point, as a teenager, when I did think the same way. As we grow up we are exposed to so many ideas and I think that with young people sometimes whatever is new is valued more. They think that people in the past were so flawed (e.g., racist, oppressed, uneducated, lacking exposure to diversity, without access to today's technology etc.) so their ideas and conventions are probably misguided and should be abandoned in favor of new ideas. That is probably true about many things.

But ideas spoken and written on paper may not have the intended effects when enacted in someone's life. Unlike the old ideas and ways of life, these new ideas have not been lived enough by the people endorsing them or studied to see if they actually lead to better lives. What I'm saying is that our elders have lived through many things and they can tell us what they think worked and did not work, what they think we should have kept, and what new things may be better. Should I trust a younger person when they say we will all be better off doing something that is so different from what was going on in the recent past? How do they know their advice will lead women to have happier lives? For example, how do we know things will be better if the institution of marriage is eliminated, women just raise children alone, men and women start looking and dressing the same, being overweight is the new standard of beauty etc?

The writer states she is an "an ardent feminist in part because many of the character traits I possess naturally are often ascribed to men". Some of the criticisms I'm hearing about feminism is that women were told they would find fulfillment in careers but many did not. Some put off having families and they are regretting that. Others thought that acting like men would help their romantic relationships but their love lives are unsatisfying or nonexistent. I mean isn't it better to take advice from someone who has been happily married for many years over that of a single young person with no marriage experience or someone with open hostility towards men? Many men I talk to today are fine with women working, voting, and having equal rights but most prefer highly feminine women in the traditional sense. We should afford basic respect to people as human beings but just being a woman doesn't deserve high respect neither does just being a man (e.g., only certain people will be followed as leaders, deferred to, given special treatment, admired, sought after etc.). This sort of respect has to be earned and each woman must ask if her behaviour deserves such high respect. I think that the goal of some is to have that high respect and the power and benefits that come with it. A lady gets more respect than the average woman and a gentleman gets more respect than the average man.

She also states, "I'm not a lady. The fact causes me no distress. I'm too vulgar and assertive to ever be classified as such. My hemlines too short, clothes too tight, and language too crass. And my demeanor is not at all demure. Still somehow I manage to live a joyful, fulfilling life without the distinction. I do, however, aspire to be kind, genuine, loving and thoughtful." It's really strange to hear a woman proudly admit she is not a lady and embrace all the negative things associated with not being a lady. Being called anything but a lady is an insult! Furthermore, what is the value of being vulgar, wearing short hems, too tight clothes, and using foul language? Someone who reveals their flesh to the world is less oppressed than someone who doesn't? Someone who can express themselves without vulgarity is caving to patriarchy while the one embracing men's foul language is not? Do such women consider their actions or just do whatever they feel like at the moment, sometimes because it's too much work to consider benefits, risks, and long term consequences? The writer sounds as though she doesn't care about impression management (but I think everyone does). I'll post some articles about it below.

Sometimes people have almost an air of superiority when they state "I don't care what other people think I just do what I want," as if those who do consider their actions and image are weak, oppressed, or slaves. It just reminds me of that story of the grasshopper and the ant where the grasshopper played all year while the ant stored food for the winter. When the winter came the grasshopper had nothing and starved. It's hard work preparing, planning, and controlling yourself so that you can get rewards in the future. It's called delayed gratification. It's easier (or lazier) to just not care and do whatever but it doesn't guarantee a good or stress free life in my opinion (you may be happy now but unhappy later). There are just different stressors. People who delay gratification and control their behaviour feel free behind closed doors, among people they trust, on vacation, or when they have accumulated enough power and resources. As long as you don't go overboard it's really not that hard. Well all in all the article was not surprising and this is the way many women think. These women look down on those like myself yet they are conforming to feminist norm as well as masculine norms as a form of protest. I prefer being a lady and having everything I want including high respect. I'd be curious to know if the author notices that other women get more respect than she does and why she thinks that is? I wonder if she would actually care?

P.S. I also want to say that women AND men deal with high expectations and it's not just a woman's burden. Men are expected to act in certain ways and are rejected by women when they don't (e.g., only certain men are "good men" and they are hearing there aren't many around). So I think it's not fair that the request that women "act like ladies" is something done by the big bad men and ignore the fact that ladies ask that men "act like (good) men" all the time.

Related Articles:
What is impression management? (interesting. Yes it can be used dishonestly but it doesn't have to be. You can use impression management to make sure that people know your authentic self instead of risking that they rely on stereotypes)
Communication strategies: impression management: MUST READ, excellent tips! Learning impression management techniques is just another way to improve your communication skills. Good communication skills can get you what you want in life and is essential for success. Now that I think about it a lot of advice women and men get about how to act around the opposite sex (e.g., PUA sites) are all about impression management. So is advice about how to act in job interviews, how to look productive at work, how to get along with coworkers, how to make's all about impression management. Some people are good at this naturally, some have to learn a lot, others can just add some useful tips. There is nothing shameful or weak about it, it just takes the desire and dedication to make the best impression you can. I have no doubt in my mind that the most successful people in the world have worked on their impression management or have been trained in it (or they have hired people to help them with it e.g., agents, stylists, PR people etc.).


  1. I just love your blog! It's so positive! So beautiful! Oh my goodness I'm in love! Would you mind if I post your blog link on my page? I have a Black Pin Up Models page I think this would be great. Here's a link to my page.

  2. Hi Candace, welcome to the blog:)I'm glad that you like the site :) Sure it would be so nice of you to post the link. I took a look at your site and it will be cool to see what images you find. I've always liked that Ashanti Good, Good video and the song too :)

  3. Hi lovely point you put across, it seems to me that the person you speak of in the article is ignorant and reminds me of an article you had done recently about people who adapt to situations because of past experiences. Clearly this person has been raised in such an environment where one is rediculed for being lady like and praised for being the opposite. It may be ok for the environment she lives in hence her being proud of it but if she is to come out of her comfort zone and change her environment only then will she realize how negative the attitude and appearance is. I do hope she does not have too many followers as it isn't a good thing to encourage young people to adopt such mannerism.

  4. Wow that girl has issues. People like her are too self absorbed so trying to be a lady and acting in a respectful and responsible manner is too much work for them, which is why they would chose the lazy way out and declare that they don't care what anyone thinks, but deep down, they do care because it's human nature to care about what others think. We can deny it all we want but it's a fact. I also know from experience because I was somewhat like her in my 2os. I too had the 'I do whatever I want' attitude.

    Being a lady is hard work. But you know what, I don't mind the hard work because the rewards are too great. I work hard to maintain a feminine appearance, and I work hard to appear pleasing to everyone and it does pay off. So many people are telling me what great manners I have and how much they like the way I dress. People say that I'm such a nice person. I get job opportunities for jobs that I'm not even qualified for because people love my agreeable yet poised personality. I made an effort to be a lady and a lady is a respectable woman in society. Men love her and other women look up to her or envy her.

    I read her article and I pity her because she is completely misguided. I'm disappointed by the comments that her followers left on her blog. They are all just like her. It's a shame how there are so many crude, unladylike and unkept women that this generation has produced. I'm already in my 30s and it too me so long to figure out where I was going wrong. I feel bad for the young girls coming up, they have no real role models.

  5. this could go in your "related articles" part for her too, def fits!

  6. Hi socialitedreams :)

    That was an interesting article. I actually have The Art of Being Feminine as one of my links (I still have to read a lot of it). I wrote about not keeping it real too because I think it's actually harmful to many Black women. I agree with the author that just doing whatever you want and not thinking about the consequences is easier and lazy. For some people it's too much work to think about the other person's feelings or about the way their behaviour is holding them back. They just expect everyone to take their bad behaviour and treat them the same as someone with much better behaviour. It takes work to cultivate a good image and it's easier to just do whatever and then blame the world for rejecting you. Image management, being feminine, and being respectable is about self-control, controlling your urges, and regulating your behaviour and some people have problems doing so (may have started in childhood).

    I also found the part about the single mothers very interesting. Basically in the AA community the whole rejection of marriage and raising children alone experiment is being conducted. The results are not positive in that group. I'm not sure why feminists are not paying attention to that result! Single mothers and their kids are not living in utopia without men (some may be very happy) but I think most are not. They have to stop encouraging that because that's a luxury for rich women with more power, resources, and safe environments.

  7. Hey, I say good for her. The way of elegance and being a lady for Black women does not sit well with many people. In fact, when you think about it, a BW lady-like in the Western part of the world is a radical position, a shock to the system for most people.

    Also, the blog owner made the comparison that being lady-like won't keep you from being harassed or raped. I can't even reason with someone who speaks such drivel. She's talking about predators here; since when are they normal? Unless she subconsciously thinks all mean are predators?

    I also can't entertain the idea that ladies are hesitant to set clear boundaries. LOL, that tells me all I need to know about that blog owner, and what she knows, or doesn't know, about being a lady.

  8. Hi GoneInternational :)

    When I buy clothes and dress in the morning the last thing on my mind is whether or not I will be harassed or raped! If that's the case with the author then she lives in the wrong neighbourhood. I consider whether it's flattering to my body, showing too much, appropriate for work, something I can wear to work and when I go out, and the price.

    It's sad and unfair that some women live in an environment where thoughts of sexual assault is at the forefront of their minds all the time. I cant's think of any fashion blog where women are only showed clothes that will protect them from rape or harrassement (but by the author's own words clothing doesn't make a difference). It's really strange to continually read about this concern on AA blogs. Other women are only concerned about being thought of as trashy or too conservative not personal safety.

    If these women can get out they really should. How can any woman in one of these places say they like it there and they don't want to leave? I wouldn't even want to drive through one of their neighbourhoods if it's that bad. I feel more sad for her than critical. She may even be very safe where she lives but she is may just be fearful from hearing scary stories. Harassment isn't even on my radar.

    Yes I agree that ladies tend to set pretty high and firm boundaries personal boundaries compared to non-ladies. I think they are just loose with their definition of femininity and basically whatever a woman does is feminine and respectable to them.

  9. Thanks so much for your comments Crystal and Maria :)

    Being a lady is work. I think it takes good character traits like self-control, good manners, and agreeableness that some people just don't possess or value. Instead of seeing to get along with as many people as possible and then choose the best people as friends and associates instead they show all of their bad qualities and settle for whoever doesn't run away (most likely they have the same bad qualities).

    So when other people are offended they just think "it's their loss", "they are too shallow, stuck up, or old fashioned", and blame it on them instead of taking personal responsibility for their obnoxious behaviour. That is their coping mechanism that allows them to not feel bad about their offensive behaviour and instead it's everyone else who has the problem. Maybe after some negative experiences she and others will change their minds.

  10. I am so glad you responded to that blog.You expressed my sentiment. Well Said!!!

  11. I think the real problem is that the very feminine aspects that we are trying (myself included) to accept and cultivate are the same ones that have been consistently taken advantage of. For instance, the traditional housewife in the past didn't have the knowledge of how to take care of the finances (since men tend to die earlier than us), lacked work experience if anything happened to her husband who provided for her, and if she was being physically abused, the authorities at one time wouldn't take her complaints seriously without her husbands consent. Essentially women didn't have a voice without a man to speak or advocate for them. The flipside is that feminism came around and while fighting for our voices, the tenets were that women needed to become more masculine, hence "Why would I want to be a lady". It's the extreme reaction to a world that doesn't hold femininity as highly as masculinity yet still inadvertently buys into the same logic. The reality, imo, is that neither by themselves are good because they have negative aspects that lead to problems. Everyone has masculine and feminine sides that needs to be tapped into and channeled in ways that work in your favor. For myself, I realized that doing masculine exercises like kickboxing and weightlifting helps me to feel more soft and feminine outside the gym. Going after the "A" in my science classes increases my confidence and "hipsway" down the street that garners appreciative looks from men. And actually stating my opinions without discounting others added a bit of spice and charm to my conversations, particularly with men. Your thoughts reflect mine and it feels good knowing that I'm not alone in my pursuit to cultivate my femininity as a black woman.