Friday, February 1, 2013

for shame, for shame

There are some things that really burn my britches. For example, when children lie to the grown ups. Children should not lie to grownups. The Bachelor. That stupidity sets me on fire. But being the conscientious consumer I am, I watch, sort of. You know, so my opinions are not hypocritical. 

Okay fine, I am a hypocrite, but this is neither here nor there. Let me tell you what tindered my kindling and then turned into a small, yet ferocious bonfire earlier this week.

I wrote a paper. I wrote a paper for a class in which I had to read a certain text and then write an opinion paper. And this was my opinion.

Are you kidding me?

Let me back up. The text? The Courtier. The paper's main question? Does the ideal of the perfect lady relate to modern day?

Well, I certainly hope to the heavens it does not.

Allow me to quote some of the marvels I found within: “so it is becoming in a woman to have a soft and dainty tenderness with an air of womanly sweetness in her every movement.”

For real. It says that. It also says that “beauty is more necessary to her than to the Courtier, for in truth that woman lacks much who lacks beauty.” Ummmmm, rude. Really really rude.

How about this: a “certain pleasant affability is befitting.” Okay, that's not so bad. But wait, what about this? “Whereby she may entertain politely every sort of man with agreeable and seemly converse, suited to the time and place, and to the rank of the person with whom she may speak.” You want to know what I think about that? If you want to talk to me then you can come and talk to me. If you don't then don't and that little nugget applies to both men and women alike.

Chew on this for a moment, “wild and unbridled familiarity” is not cool. But this might be my favourite part, “when she starts to dance or make music of any kind, she ought to bring herself to it by letting herself be urged a little, and with a touch of shyness which shall show that noble shame which is the opposite of effrontery.”

Do you know what effrontery is? It's insolence and impertinence. So we should be shy and nobly shameful? Okay, good to know. But no insolence or impertinence. Let me get this straight, we are shy and shameful OR we are insolent and impertinent. There is no in between? No middle ground?

I think impertinent just became my middle name.

And I should mention that the author of this text said that it does not befit a woman to play tennis or wrestle. Well, I don't play tennis, so...

Here is the straw. The icing. The part that lit my britches aflame. Brace yourself. “Therefore let him take care not to leave her to fall into any kind of error, but by admonition and good advice let him always seek to lead her on to modesty, to temperance, to true chastity, and to see to it that no thoughts find place in her except those that are pure and free from every stain of vice.”

So, in a nutshell, the ideal woman is supposed to let a man do her thinking and save her from error. And! We are supposed to take our modesty, temperance, and chastity related cues from men. poor sensibilities have never thus been so polluted. 

For shame, for shame.

Is it any wonder we rebelled against such thinking? Who put the men in charge anyway? I would have been hung for my insolence if I had lived in such a day.

But, you know, their dresses were real pretty....

1 comment:

  1. Every time I watch a movie based on a Jane Austen book I have to remind myself that life would not have been nearly as sweet and awesome as it seems ... in fact it probably would have sucked for those of us who had brains.