My whole life, I’ve eschewed the label “lady”, as it’s always seemed so stuffy and retrograde. But more and more, it’s become unavoidable for me to acknowledge that I am, in fact, a lady.
(I know, you’re just as shocked and horrified as I am. The fact that I’m what passes for a lady in modern society truly speaks volumes about the state of that society. But I digress.)
The press for egalitarianism in our society has destroyed ladylike behavior because women have so little insight into the male of the species that they end up copying the most macho, obnoxious, low-class man they can find. Women are essentially turning into the type of man that other men don’t like very much, and then they wonder why most men don’t like them very much.
When a woman behaves like a man why doesn’t she behave like a nice man?
— Dame Edith Evans, 1956
But we set a different tone here, I hope, and our extensive male readership is evidence of that. As promoters of complementarianism, we tend to eschew the worst of masculine behavior and seek out the best complementary behavior for the best sort of man. The sort of men we’re blessed to spend our time with. The sort of men who simply won’t tolerate what passes for femininity in the wider populace of women.
And now that I’ve established our credibility to speak on the subject at all, I think it’s time for us to spread the wealth around a bit and offer aspiring ladies a description of:
How to Be a Lady
- The first, and I’d say, most vital aspect of “being a lady” is to be associated with gentlemen. This seems obvious, at first, but when you realize that gentlemen are uncommon, and that women are especially social animals and the company we keep completely defines us, it becomes a more profound statement. And, no, being associated solely with other ladylike women isn’t enough.
No matter how a woman appears and behaves, if she lives surrounded by cads and thieves, she’s not a lady. By very definition. This can seem quite unfair to aspiring ladies who are stuck with slovenly male companions, or who have no male companions or relatives to be associated with, but it is what it is. If you have no one else, I can only advise that you spend a lot of time at a male-dominated church, so that you can build some associations that way.
- A lady has control of herself. She does not drink to excess, chain smoke, sleep around, try too hard with her fashion choices, shout across rooms, cover herself in skin graffiti or decorative holes, or gobble down food at a buffet. Elegance and temperance are key. “Feeling free” and “expressing yourself” is for wild animals.
- At the same time, she is aware of her surroundings and is able to fit in at a more rustic occasion. She’s not the sort of silly person who shows up for an outdoor hike in a linen suit or a garden barbecue in stilettos, eating pizza at a Superbowl party with fork-and-knife, while insisting on drinking wine when everyone else is swilling beer. Nothing says, “I have no class,” like a failure to adapt and a rude insistence on embarrassing the host (and your male companions, no doubt) with your odd particularities.
- It is essential that a lady be modest and well-groomed. Grooming has earned its own post about Fashion Failures, so I suggest that you start there, if you have any questions of what this might entail. Being well-groomed is more important than to be merely pretty, as the former is the result of effort and reflects more upon her ladyship.
- Something that might surprise you is that a lady is forthright and outspoken. She will generally appear meek and/or pleasant, and she doesn’t proselytize everywhere she goes. But if you ask her a direct question, she’ll answer it honestly and give her true opinion unapologetically. Caginess and political correctness are for the devious and dishonest, and she’ll take pride in holding principled and informed opinions that she’ll be eager to share and willing to debate. If she is ignorant of something, she will simply state that, rather than making up an opinion on the fly.
- A lady makes sure to be well-informed, well-read, and well-spoken. She has a large vocabulary and a fountain of knowledge, and she isn’t afraid to use it. True education is a rare and valuable thing these days, and she’s well aware of how it sets her apart. But, again, she also knows how to adapt to her audience and doesn’t overwhelm the simple with her complexity.
- It’s generally the case that the higher you are on the totem pole, the less you talk about the specific people beneath you, and the more they talk about you. Gossiping is for the little people, as it’s a habit born of envy and bitterness, so a lady keeps her eyes on her own paper and her pettier opinions to herself.
- A lady is generous and kind. She tries to give the people around her the benefit of the doubt and she attempts to empathize with them, without giving in to fits of destructive sympathy. She is judicious and concerned, and passionate about defending the less-fortunate, but she doesn’t enable sinful behavior or tolerate an excess of it in her friends.
- The hobbies and occupations of ladies vary greatly, but they are all able to read fluently and write well. Both of these are dying literary arts that hone the mind in a manner nothing else does, and the absence of this ability is easily and quickly noticeable.
- A lady keeps a lid on her emotions, at the same time that she is not afraid to express them. She is not bitchy, melodramatic, whiny, or manic. You know when she approves or disapproves of something without ecstatic shrieking or bitter nagging. You know when she’s happy or sad without loud bawling or a happy joy-joy dance. She doesn’t have the sort of emotional reactions young girls develop from watching too much Nickelodeon and imagining that all of the world is a stage. If she does let the lid slip off, she’s quick to apologize sincerely and slam it back on.