Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Is "Lady" Now Obsolete?

Inside a quiet Metro Transit bus
Last week on a city bus, I experienced the youth of today, specifically the female youth of today.  Loud, boisterous, screaming at times, filling the bus with their voices.  It was a relief when they finally disembarked.  Their behavior shocked me, as it usually does when I observe young women behaving like wild animals.  Is it rare?  No, not at all.  In fact, on any given weekday during the school year, you can ride a city bus around the time the school day ends and observe much the same thing I observed last week.

My mother would have been appalled.  Not only that these young women were disrupting the peace in the bus, but that they were "young women behaving like young men who don't know any better."  That's what I imagine my mother would have said to me if she'd been next to me on the bus.  These young women were demonstrating the epitome of bad manners and a total lack of consideration for others in a public space.  I've witnessed young men do almost exactly the same.

How are parents raising children nowadays?  Do the parents know anything about courtesy in public spaces, good manners, or the consideration of others? 

Last week, I wrote about being a gentlemen.  A reader shared the post on Facebook and let me know.  Her comment included wondering what the characteristics of a lady were.  A few days later, I was on that city bus wondering the same thing.  More specifically, is the whole concept of "lady" obsolete because of the women's movement and feminism?

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Being a lady, in my mind and from my own experience, is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.  A lady knows her strengths as well as her weaknesses, her flaws as well as her talents.  She respects herself.  She respects other people.  Her manners are impeccable and genuine toward everyone, no matter who they are.  She does not hide behind courtesy.  She understands the power of the whisper, and that her actions and voice can affect everything around her including other people.  She is not selfless, and also not selfish.  When other people describe her, they usually use the adjective "classy."  Ladies are intelligent, assertive, never bossy, sympathetic as well as empathetic. They listen actively.  They act with kindness and compassion as their intent, seeking understanding, not approval or attention.  They are comfortable using their brains, and are comfortable in their own bodies, understanding that mystery can be far more alluring than baring all.  They understand the Golden Rule and live by it.

Perhaps you can add to my description, also.  My mother would add that a lady is quiet, and in control of her emotions.  When I think of the women I've met who fit my idea of a lady, the things that stand out for me are their consideration for others, quiet strength, warmth, impeccable manners and grooming.  Those young women on the bus were the polar opposite.

Michelle Obama

Grooming.  Ah, this is something for both men and women.  Strong body odor is not a pleasant smell in an enclosed place like a bus or car.  Dirty fingernails are just gross.  Bad breath?  That parts a crowd faster than God.  Cleaning your body on a daily basis really doesn't take that much effort.  Good hygiene supports good health.  And being drunk in public is not attractive or interesting.  Good manners and public courtesy are.

Americans revel in rugged individualism.  We work well in teams, also, and pull together to help each other when necessary.  If parents are not helping their children to learn good manners and how to behave in public, should they be taught in school beginning in Kindergarten?  Should the parents also be required to take classes so they can model good behavior better than they are?

My grandmother loved the saying You attract more with honey than vinegar.  I think that's especially true with personal appearance and behavior.....
Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge


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