“Be a lady” a care-giver says to a young girl wearing a dress with her legs splayed open, as she plays in the grass with her plastic tea party set. “Be a lady” says a Grandfather to his young Granddaughter as she runs loudly around the house wearing a pirate costume. “Be a lady” a mother says to her daughter after she dresses herself for the first time in slacks and a baggy shirt. “Be a lady” a father says to his daughter after she hastily snatches her fairy wand back from her teasing brothers grip while cursing.
In the patriarchal society in which we live, to be a lady means a woman must be composed and have a high level of etiquette. She should maintain certain behaviours derived from centuries old traditions of the high class aristocracies. The royal females of London would be a perfect example of this evolution of concepts present in our modern day culture. Except that today women are more empowered in ways they were not before.
Be A Lady They Say
“The word lady is a term of respect for a girl or woman, the equivalent of gentleman. Once used to describe only women of a high social class or status, the female equivalent of lord, now it may refer to any adult woman. Informal use of this word is sometimes euphemistic or, in American slang, condescending”
Today, if a woman is told to be or act “like a lady” it is simply that, an act. An act of upholding outdated gender stereotypes that come from a place of paternal control and manipulation of the sacred female body.
Our world is positively evolving away from maternal manipulation and towards female empowerment but it’s happening slowly. There’s still a long way to go. It wasn’t until 1993 that marital rape was recognised as a crime. Prior to that, sexual access to a wife’s body, with or without her consent, was considered a husband’s prerogative. And well into the 1970’s women could not own a business or even hold a credit card in their own name.
“It’s not easy being a woman. You have to think like a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl, and work like a horse.”
What Does It Mean?
The expression to “be a lady” is vague and it’s up for interpretation. Most consider the saying to mean:
Mind your manners. Sit with your legs closed. Pronunciate your words and do not curse. Be respectful of others and elders. Offer meaningful help. Listen instead of talk. Accept compliments graciously and never brag. Be confident, courteous, kind, empathetic, generous, and not malicious, abusive or leaching. Be accepting and understanding of others, not judge and keep an open mind.
To me, these are characteristics that all humans should employ, not just the woman. Since the question of what “being a lady” means is so vague, CherryDTV decided to ask 5 women the question: What does it mean to “Be A Lady?” Here are their answers.
Julia Answers What It Means To “Be A Lady”
“Be a lady” – makes me angry. To me it says you need to conform to societies expectations on what a “Lady” should do. For instance don’t speak loud, don’t have strong opinions and don’t voice them, don’t sit with your legs open or don’t play footy or “rough house”. – Julia
Gigi Amour On The Topic Of “Be A Lady”
“Be a Lady” Personally, I wouldn’t ever use that figure of speech, for who is anyone to determine what being a lady, let alone a woman is, or means. It’s an outdated term and one, I hope perishes. The pressure women face to uphold dying, diminishing expectations that society, men and even other women put on our shoulders is quite honestly, disgusting and I cannot wait for this part of history to end. In my life time or not, for people after me, I hold onto the hope that this unrealistically invasive standard for women will be no longer. – Gigi
Here’s What Kayla Has To say
It means the person saying it is a misogynost. Lol Kidding…kind of.
To be a lady, to me, means to be polite, kind, and well mannored. To practice restraint of pen and tongue, and exercise ones ability to put the ego aside and allow for others to take up space and not feel the need to take over. – Kayla
Daisy Gives A Short & Simple Answer
“Be a lady” means to present yourself in a refined and dignified manner. -says Daisy sarcastically
“Be A Lady” Here’s What Tempest Thinks
Ummm…. ‘Be a Lady’ personally I find this term condescending. As a female who runs a business, is a wife, a friend, a mum and an individual.
I find the term ‘be a lady’ disrespectful, I feel it’s the same as ‘be a good girl’ Don’t be promiscuous, sexual, dress appropriately and never speak out. Which I totally disagree with. You should be whoever you want to be no matter your gender. – Tempest
The Bottom Line
The expression to “Be A Lady” is a derogatory, weaponising sentiment of toxic gender roles placed upon women passed down from insensitive and misinformed generations. The real meaning of what it means to “be a lady” is the meaning placed upon the expression by a woman herself. To be a lady a woman should feel the freedom to unapologetically express herself however she chooses without fear of judgement. This is yet to be a reality for many women across the world. However, with time these social and gender constructs that have kept the human individual caged, will continue to crumble and the old meaning of what it means “to be a lady” will just be data stored in a hard-drive.