(TRIGGER WARNING for rape, victim-blaming)
After taking quite a bit of heat for the tweet below, I’ve decided to formulate my response here, for those who care to take the time to read it outside of 160 characters.
This morning I read the details of the horrific gang rape of a 16 year old girl in Northern California, and was moved to post the following.
“Hey Parents. Teach your boys how to treat women properly, and your girls how to be ladies. The shit I’m reading in the news makes me sick.”
Of all the criticism that followed, being accused of slut-shaming is by far the most egregious. Honestly? I, the shamer of sluts? Oh contraire…
Of course having been motivated by the reprehensible, criminal behavior of the male assailants in the piece, I wrote the initial section of the tweet, but then thought it best to include something female related so as not to be labeled sexist. And thus, my troubles began as the outcry from heretofore adoring fans came in broad waves, keyboards blazing, and directed squarely at me, for my use of one single word. Lady.
But why the outrage? Why the hoopla? A lady is a magical thing! A rare and precious sighting! I should think all girls would want to be as such. Unless, of course, there’s something negative attached to the term…
So I began by googling “lady,” and here’s what I came up with…
How about that! Term of respect for the female equivalent of a gentleman. And what characteristics does the term gentleman conjure up?
Someone with manners. Someone who is polite. Someone who demonstrates good character and judgment, especially when it comes to the treatment of, what else, Ladies… So that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? If a lady is defined as the female equivalent of all of those ostensibly good characteristics, why the long face? I’ve never heard a male balk at being called a gentleman! Never once.
As I re-read the responses to my tweet, I began to understand that girls, don’t like the idea that lady represents, and that the offence begins at the notion that girls, or females in general, ought to act lady-like. Ah ha. The culprit! Not just three words that, in our contemporary, liberal, equal-minded, no-loser, no winner society, raise the hackles on women and gender defenders the country over; but what they perceive the idea is; and furthermore, how they believe society is telling them they have to be.
I don’t have to act like anything! I should be empowered to be me! I wont support the outdated civil conventions of an outdated civilization. We’re equal and I’ll be damned if I’m going to act like a lady. I seem to hear them screaming…
But I ask you, where and how did the majesty of the Lady, become so soiled to the point, where young girls across the nation want nothing to do with the notion whatsoever? And more importantly, how do we rectify this travesty? And even more importantly, do women even what to rectify it? Because it’s truly up to them.
Understanding the differences between men and women, and ladies and gentleman isn’t sexist. It’s merely… understanding the differences. The sexes are separate. They are equal in ability(for the most part), but they’re definitely not the same. If you’ve ever rounded second base on your way to third, you know what I’m talking about. So what’s the big deal with being different? The fundamental nature of women is female, and the fundamental nature of man, male. We don’t have to be the same.
Being a Lady or a Gentleman is about embracing the very best of your self as you are and those characteristics are ubiquitous. They are thoroughly human characteristics and transcend specific societies and cultures. They are more noble than the mere civility we expect from one another on a daily basis. They are universal in their aim to demonstrate kindness, selflessness, consideration, and always to present one’s self with grace and poise.
The negativity with which the connotation of lady is received with these days is a result of convention which is a bit behind the times.
A lady is proper, she’s minds what she says, she listens to men, she holds her tongue, she never gets her hands dirty, and she most certainly, guards her virtue above all other things!
Of course all this is aged crap that, for the most part, has gone by the wayside opening up the door for women to live and behave how they please without the conventional insult of not being lady like. And hooray for progress.
However, I would suggest that we tossed the baby out with the bathwater. For along with shedding the dubious garments of mid-century era culture, we have also lost the noble idea of what a lady is, and I submit that every female should aspire to be one, whether they chose to act like one or not.
Can a lady have tattoos all over? Curse like a sailor? Have sex with more than one person? In my opinion, of course she can. Because those criteria are terrestrial, pedantic, antiquated ways of viewing and quantifying the worth of a woman, and or the respect that she may or may not deserve. As deemed by others…
So what is a lady?
She is confident.
She has well thought-out beliefs, and defends them.
She embraces with all her strength, her own self respect, and in doing so, garners respect from others.
She has an unwavering belief in her own value.
She treats people kindly, and nurtures love in her heart.
She does not look down on the inner feminine beauty that she possess as part of her very nature.
She aspires to all this and more, without the need to sacrifice any opportunity that anyone else receives, just because she has a vagina.
When I meet a female who heralds these ideas, in speech and action, both for herself, and for others, I call her… a lady.
Chivalry is not dead. It is alive and well, taking on many forms, with many combinations of players, but we must address our desperate lack of Ladies and Gentleman in the world, in order to play it out.
I read this post, and then I tried to go to sleep. I have two shifts to work tomorrow, and by all means, I should be asleep. But I can’t go to sleep because I keep coming back to this post, and simply put I’m just too pissed to sleep right now.
Dear Mr Bohen,
There is so much problematic shit in this post I don’t even really know where to start. Perhaps, with the original subject, on how you victim blamed somebody and then decided to turn it into a patronizing lesson for women on what it means to be a woman.
The problem with this situation is not that we’ve forgotten what “lady” means, but thank you for your Wikipedia-ed definition lesson. I’m sure it took you all of six minutes—it’s not like the people you are addressing are actually female and have to live with the repercussions of what society defines as a lady or anything, right?
The problem, Mr Bohen, is that somebody was raped and you commented on how her behavior somehow caused it, instead of commenting on how the rapist’s behavior caused it. This, Mr Bohen, as I’m sure it’s been called to your attention, is called victim blaming, and it is wrong.
Let’s be totally clear: you know who causes rape? Rapists. And rapists? Don’t give a shit about behavior. They care about control and power and the feeling of entitlement towards women’s bodies because that’s what they’ve been taught. You know who does not cause rape? Victims. And yet, we are blamed for it. Constantly. By society at large, by people we think are our friends, by actors we follow on Twitter because they act in our favorite tv shows.
You know when the idea of “lady” stopped being majestic? When women realized it was getting us assaulted. When women are told to be ladies, they are told to be quiet, we are told to be politeand gentle and you know what? You know what quiet and polite and gentle gets us? It gets us raped. It gets us raped and harassed and it gets us blamed for it.The burden of rape gets put on us.
The “negative” aspects of the word “lady” haven’t “gone by the wayside”. Quite the contrary. They’re still there, and they still matter, because those negative aspects and expectations of behavior are what gets us blamed for our rapes and assaults.
You know who tells us to be ladies? White men like you. You know who are the vast majority of rapists? White men like you. You see how that works out? White men overwhelming control the way a woman’s body, mind, and actions are perceived in society. They tells us what to wear, how to speak, how to look and how to sound. And then it gets us assaulted they tell us it’s our own damn fault.
Do you see why, just maybe, it upsets us when you condescendingly try to tell us what being a woman is all about? Do you understand that your opinion as a white man is entirely irrelevant? Do you get that your attempt to tell women how to be women actually falls into a culture of rape?
This, Mr Bohen, is what needs to be addressed. The desperate lack of consideration and understanding that you and society at large exhibits towards women.
Just for the record, Mr Bohen, when a woman, whether she falls into your Wikipedia-ed definition of “lady” or not, tells you that there is a problem with what you are saying in regards to women the response is not to Google the ways you must surely be right it is to sit down and shut the hell up and listen. Pay attention. Because the “screaming girls on twitter” are deigning to try to make you less ignorant and that is a goddamn gift.
Furthermore? All women are not feminine. Some women are ladies, and some ladies are women. Some women have vaginas - others don’t. We don’t all share the same clothing or virtues or confidence or “inner feminine beauty”. Based on our ability, skin color, sexual orientation, or gender we have radically different experiences on what it means to be a woman in this world.
Some of us don’t mind the word “lady”, others do. Whether or not we find it offensive is our perogative, not yours. You don’t get to tell us how we feel about it.
One thing we are collective on, however, is that we are really sick of men telling us what to be.
I was going to address the bs myself, but I’m tired and frustrated and genuinely think I couldn’t do a better job than Thistle, so I’m just gonna reblog this.
i didn’t know ian bohen was on tumblr, nor was i aware that he’s got some very patriarchal views about women and feels the need to soap box them to women. srsly, ian bohen just stop
- I DO NOT NEED A MAN TELLING ME WHAT I SHOULD FEEL GUILTY ABOUT.
- I DO NOT NEED A MAN TELLING ME HOW I SHOULD VIEW MYSELF.
- I DO NOT NEED A MAN TELLING ME HOW I SHOULD BE ADDRESSED BY SOCIETY
- I DO NOT NEED A MAN TELLING ME THAT I SHOULD NOT BE ANGRY
- I DO NOT NEED A MAN TO BE MY MORAL COMPASS
- I DO NOT NEED A MAN TO SPEAK FOR ME, ABOUT ME OR TO ME ABOUT MY OWN GENDER
- I DO NOT NEED A MAN TO TELL ME ABOUT RAPE CULTURE WHEN AS SOON AS THE SUN SETS, IT’S MY FAULT TO WHATEVER HAPPENS TO ME IF I AM STILL OUTSIDE AND NOT SAFELY LOCKED AWAY
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