Sunday, February 12, 2017

No More Ladies

I'm lamenting, this morning, the loss of decorum in our country. I get the concept of "reclaiming" words to somehow claim their power for ourselves, but I think the execution is off, especially recently.

My wife was a strong woman, and didn't let society tell her who she could and couldn't be--she told me of getting punished by her mother, when she was told she needed to get used to doing laundry so she could be a 'good wife' someday, for replying, "I'm going to *have* a wife someday, and then she can do the laundry." She was in the first class of women to be admitted to (and to graduate from) the US Air Force Academy, and then became a pilot in the Strategic Air Command. She didn't accept not being able to do something just because she was a woman.
What made her the most beautiful person I have ever known, though, was that even with her strength, even with all the boundaries she pushed, even as her body let her down and deteriorated, she never stopped being a lady. In the Air Force, despite being around salty language all the time, she made a point to never use that language. She talked about always wearing perfume when she was in her flight suit, so she could feel ladylike even in such a masculine-looking garment. I only heard her curse once, and it was when she was coming to my defense, on the phone with the con artist that stole my house in Missouri. She had a stoic grace about her that I can only hope to live up to someday.

And she would say to me often, as she would shake her head at the latest thing on the television, that there were "no such thing as ladies anymore;" that young women seemed not to even want to be ladylike, as if retaining their dignity and decorum was a negative thing somehow. As if being a 'lady' somehow made you weak, even though she was living proof that it didn't.

I understand that people are meaning well, but I can't bring myself to call myself a "nasty woman," and pretend it's a compliment and not an insult. Nor do I want to start using the 'P-word,' even referring to pink hats, just because a public figure was crude enough to be caught using the word on a "hot mic." I even lost interest in a group at my church when it was suggested we call ourselves "Women Getting [Excrement] Done." Sorry, but I don't really want to do [excrement]--I mean, I suppose we all do it, and I expect I could change a diaper if I needed to, but it feels like an odd thing to want to announce to the world. I guess I just don't know how we can continue to "co-opt" the things we find offensive, without becoming something offensive ourselves.
I know I am nowhere near as ladylike as my Joanne was--I can definitely be a bit more free with the salty language, sometimes--but it is what I aspire to. Even if it would make me an obsolete relic of times gone by.

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