Ladies First…or Ladies Last?

The days of the classic traditional Gentleman are gone – or at least if they’re not then they are effectively dinosaurs dying off one by one…slowly becoming extinct as metaphorical asteroids come smashing towards the ground in a fiery mess. You see as gender roles and attitudes shift, so does the old framework under which the Gentleman etiquette  once operated.

Now personally I like to treat everyone with kindness and respect – well you know; most of the time (aka…if I’ve had coffee) but I am not sure whether this makes me a Gentleman, or just a gentle man. The jury is out on that one…I must admit I’m still a little confused…

Handshake Hug GIF

But whatever the verdict – I have found this issue on my mind a lot recently, largely thanks to something coming up in my kindergarten class which I didn’t quite expect. You see during “snack time” there is a small window in which I have to try and cram all the various rules around politeness, manners, and etiquette…into six year olds…who don’t even speak English…and would much rather have a discussion about which animal does the biggest poops. Naturally it’s a tough learning curve, and can be quite a challenge, especially as such rules differ from country to country, and from culture to culture…

Ah, and if you’re curious about the aforementioned poo-size rankings, they assure me it goes; 1.Elephant, 2.Giraffe, 3.Horse.

But this time around as the two boisterous boys madly scrabbled in a rush to grab the biggest banana I found myself commanding: “ah-ah-ahhh! Ladies first!” in some kind of involuntary reflex. To which they spun around, and queried “why?” 

I was a little lost for words…after all, I didn’t want to instruct them that girls are weaker, or need help because they’re hands are just for show, or whatever else…that would be way off, so…erm…errrr…I wracked my brain frenetically for something usable – but it was just like a submarine radar…beep-beep-beep, but picking up absolutely nothing.

“You should be a gentleman!”  I announced suddenly in a (possibly) unsure tone to which the two young boys stared back in confusion. This was what was always said to me as a kid, and it makes sense…I mean who doesn’t want to be seen as a gentleman?! It’s the epitome of class, and sophistication!

Classy GIF

Was that the right thing to say? It’s hard to know these days…you have to be extra careful, because every little thing offends every little person. And yeah,  I’m probably reinforcing gender stereotypes, and all that jazz…

But my wiring is of a rather traditional nature I suppose, at least when you consider the attitudes of other people who are in the 20s age group along with me; I remember my Ps & Qs (no one says that anymore, do they?), I hold the door open for people, pay for dates/meetings that I suggested, and always urinate on the toilet seat. Well you know, no one’s perfect. 

But yeah help me out  – what do you think? Do ladies go first?

Manners GIF

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26 thoughts on “Ladies First…or Ladies Last?

  1. John, my husband works at a university, which i thought would be a good microcosm to address your question.. he adds that many of the students are Asian overseas students. When it comes to opening doors, it is whoever gets to the door first opens it for the other person.H e also did say that you could get told off by women who didnt want preferential treatment . .
    In terms of bringing up my kids they take turns and having his sister go first all the time would never sit well with our son. these days i think men show they are gentlemen in different ways…cooking a special meal, listening, not being violent. There are a few thoughts for you. Great topic, by the way xx Rowena

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi there! I have found it is that way too, although I asked one of the Korean co-teachers whether the “ladies first” thing, is an unwritten rule in Korea…she said it is, but dying out. Found that interesting for sure.

      Oh, and in terms of getting to the door…it is a BATTLE out here, for real! And they stare at me like a maniac when I hold the door, it just isn’t the done thing. Actually people often go through the OTHER door rather than accept the one I am holding. Bizarre. But aren’t the differences in culture interesting?

      Thanks for your thoughts Rowena, I am sure there will be more to come from people!

      Liked by 3 people

      • John, that’s so intriguing. I hope to pop back and see how the comments are going. I notice listening to my Mum who is 70, just how much things have changed.
        Sounds like you could write a comic sketch about the door that would have people in stitches!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I collect what I call Grannie’s Teacups and I have all that old worldy stuff and could do a 1920’s high tea without any trouble. Attitude wise, I thought I was fairly modern until I went to a wedding on the weekend and have now decided I am more traditional than I’d thought!!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Since this goes on your page not mine, the bride was interrupting her father’s speech incessantly and then swore during her speech multiple times but that didn’t really convey the whole way she turned the whole bride concept on its head. I don’t know whether a young bridge these days is going to be demure. Most brides I’ve met have been too nervous to really get out of control. Too much champagne might have been a factor. I love my cousin dearly and she’s extremely creative and fun-loving but it all just seemed to go too far and I was actually concerned about her. Certainly, not judgemental.
        I actually just remembered that Iended up with two inflatable T-Rex’s from the Australian Geographic Shop at my wedding but that was thanks to some friends. Our wedding was formal, traditional and we had a beautiful Mark IV Jag convertible!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh wow!!! I’m actually dreading the wedding thing, both my own if it happens or being the best man at a wedding (which appears to be in the cards for numerous times) because of speaking in front of people…I would hope that I’d get the champagne quantity just right. It’s odd she was interrupting in that way, I would be as surprised as you are…maybe I’m traditional too. ..because the jag sounds class!

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  2. I’m teaching my kids manners to all-that you always hold a door for the older generation, sex be damned. I tell them it’s better to have manners overall and I refuse to raise rude assholes. They also take turns opening doors for each other-my daughter is 8 and VERY independent AND helpful my son is 13 and attitudey and easily offended.

    I’m also instilling that even though people EXPECT you to act this way, that it’s better to at THAT way, and you will garner more respect from others and it is passed on.

    Call ME old fashioned, but I think being a gentleman, having manners and respect means more than some sexist gender feminism stereotype that we are weaker. *Shrugs*

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re doing a good job, I think those values are becoming less and less present ~ I certainly make it a priority for my young kids I teach, and naturally will when I raise my own kids. p.s. I think it means more than that too, I just had to display a more narrow view as it links to the issue at hand I was discussing, I trust you didn’t consider it to be MY view…rather a view I hear every so often when it is discussed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s wonderful that you are planting those seeds of respect. Much of the modern world has gone on the defensive and it’s every person for themselves.

        Oh no I definitely don’t consider you view. I think you brought up a valid point in doing so 🙂

        *Do hope your sunburn is better!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah good, phew! I will hope to have the same attitude as you when the time comes, just sheer refusal to have horrible bad mannered kids! haha!

        Oh, and thank you! How thoughtful. I got another layer of sunburn today on a field trip with the kids…time to get some suncream I reckon!

        Liked by 2 people

      • I refuse to be a helicopter parent and make all of the decisions for them and let them grow into their own beings-but I’ll be damned if they don’t have manners and expect everything to be given to them! Hahaha
        Invest in straight zinc and a floppy hat for that neck! 😀

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  3. I still am a big fan of politeness, and I most certainly remember a book from childhood titled “Please Mind Your P’s &Q’s.” I notice more and more that people find it acceptable to make eye contact, but they reject the simple politeness of a greeting, even if one has been given to them. I can not wrap my mind around the idea that politeness is something we would allow to become extinct. Good for you for passing this warm way of treating others. G-uno

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s odd…in Korea particularly, when I see other foreigners I look for eye contact to just say hello, nod…smile…anything ~ but they dodge, stare at the floor intently. How bizarre. Manners seem to becoming extinct, but yes it’s a travesty.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree it’s really sad. Especially since so much emphasis is made on the lack of respect people have for one another. It’s such an small gesture that comes with a big message of respect. Thanks for addressing the subject, and again for actually taking action. G-uno

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  4. Politeness is over cultural too. I have be in a number of different countries and always learned please and thank you, and as much local etiquette as possible it eased my travels greatly even if my Arabic, German, or French were not the best – the attempt ellicited politeness!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You can imagine the impulse that drove that kind of chivalry back in the day when women couldn’t even vote etc. But I think it’s most definitely no longer appropriate, unless it’s a situation where physical strength is a factor.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I seem to be a traditionalist. I feel the epitome of what it means to be a gentleman starts with the phrase “ladies go first.” But I couldn’t help but laugh at the question “Why?” I mean, it made perfect sense, why wouldn’t the boys ask that question. But I could see why you wrestled with it, John.

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  7. I work in a male dominated environment (in the UK) and was surprised to find that a lot of them still hold doors open for me. I think its nice, and I don’t think its at all patronising, its just good manners. I’d hold the door open for them if I got to it first. I don’t think there is any harm in minding your P&Qs (whatever they may be), I think too few people do these days. I always adjust my language and humour according to who I’m with and eat with a knife and fork, unless of course its appropriate to do otherwise. I worry that future generations won’t even have this base to decide what is appropriate for what situations.

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