Without ladies, you will never have gentlemen

Over at the National Catholic Register there is a piece by Pat Archbold which I liked.

I have written about this topic before, but not for a while now.

My theory is that each year a new wave of young barbarians will be unleashed on the world unless they are civilized first. I mean, young men. Women civilize men. If women start acting like men, the men don’t get formed in the proper way. The end result is going to be bad for everyone and women are going to be hurt more than men in the disaster that results.

That said, let’s see this piece with some emphases and comments.

Bring Back The Fairer Sex

Question: [QUAERITUR!] Is it sexist to ask young women to be ladylike?

It would seem so. Earlier in the week it was reported that a Catholic High School asked its young women to sign a pledge not to curse.

The media descended with its charges of sexism and the school quickly relented and opened the pledge up to boys.  [Instead of caving in they should have had a “knight in shining armor pledge” for the boys.]

While I am not in favor of either gender cursing, I have no problem with asking young women to be superior to their male counterparts. Even in a coed school (which may or may not be such a great idea) [Over rated.] we need to teach our boys to be men and our girls to be ladies. And guess what, ladies don’t curse (much).  [Nor do they dress like hookers.]

I think it is perfectly sensible and reasonable to single out girls for a call to better behavior. Boys will be called to behave like men in their own way, but boys are different than girls. I think that our world and our culture already suffers from the lack of the former benign influence of ladies.  Today, we have all too many girls who grow up merely into curvier versions of the vulgar male counterparts.  [And they pay a far more horrible price.]

Bottom line, you cannot make ladies of young women by asking them to be equal parts sugar, spice, slugs, and snails.

The world does not need more women who act like men.  [Do I hear an “Amen!”? ] We need something better than that, we need ladies. We don’t merely need the other sex, we need the fairer sex back. [Notice how he, correctly, writes of “sex” and not of “gender”?   When you see “gender”, alarm bells must sound.]

Ladies soften the temperaments of men, every generation before the last few knew this. It is these young women, called to the higher purposes of being ladies, in their turn call men to the higher purpose of being gentlemen. [Yes.]

I suppose that without ladies, you will never have gentlemen.

So ask more of them, ask them to be different from the boys, ask them to be better than the boys. The world needs ladies, we need our fairer sex back.

One of the trends in the entertainment industry – which probably dovetails with big-business abortion – is that female characters are turning into more efficient and extravagant killers than many of the male characters.

On a related note, if we don’t as a society, a nation, start having more babies, we are soon going to be in deeper trouble than we are in now.

Without ladies, you will never have gentlemen
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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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92 Responses to Without ladies, you will never have gentlemen

  1. mamajen says:

    While I definitely agree that girls should be ladylike, I do not agree that only the girls should have been asked not to curse. In fact, I think that was a stupid and yes, sexist, decision. While I’m no prude, regularly cursing is extremely unprofessional and unbecoming of either gender. Good manners should be taught to all young people.

  2. tealady24 says:

    Nicely put, Father. And let’s not forget about the big vampire silliness trending these days. Why be ladylike when you can be “dead”!
    The downturn in “dressing up” for mass has hurt women and their feminity, so much! I loved the days when wearing a pretty pair of white gloves was almost a prerequisite to going to church. Fashion today (or the lack thereof) leaves much to be desired.

    [“why be ladylike when you can be dead!” Okay!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. St. Epaphras says:

    “The world does not need more women who act like men. [Do I hear an “Amen!”? ] ”

    Yes! Amen!!

  4. veritas76 says:

    This reminds me of a quote by Ven. Fulton Sheen — “When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

  5. Supertradmum says:

    I went to a finishing school college for my undergraduate degree. We learned how to walk, talk, set tables for the governor of the State, how to get in and out of Porsches, etc. Seriously, it was excellent training . My personal manners-trainer in freshman year was the groomer for Miss Iowa at the time. I have been in the presence, since then, of English royalty twice (the immediate family) and Italian, Maltese and English aristocracy several times and can “hold my own”. I know how to curtsey.

    It was a continuation of what I learned at home. I came from generations of ladies. Catholicism and manners, gentility and ladylike behaviour went hand-in-hand with the life of the virtues.

    The worse and most vitriolic responses I have received both on my blog and in person have been women who refuse to act like Catholic ladies. I have not been able to publish some of the comments.

    I have many posts on this, but here are some of the points. I tried to get some priests on board with this, but failed, so Fr. Z., I am SO glad you wrote this.

    Eating: never eat while walking. Only eat at tables and nicely, with manners. Eat slowly and with grace. Do not talk with your mouth full. Eat as if Christ were present at the table.

    Walking: do not be pushy, but gentle in one’s mannerisms. Walk with custody of the eyes and not with a bold look. Pray while walking.

    Conversation and voice tone: gentle and quiet, not loud, without raucous laughter (a sign of decadence and crudity). Stop talking when someone new enters the group in respect.

    Dress: modest and not androgynous. I had a huge problem with a group of Catholic evangelists in another city where the girls who had been trained in catechesis were dressed immodestly (midriffs and shoulders showing) or like rugby players, indicating a problem with their own sexuality as females. Women must dress like women to be convincing Christians. Dress is not merely about modesty but gender identity, which is hugely important and the pride of being a woman or a girl.

    Flirting is not a lady-like behavior. Conversation must be appropriate and not for showing off. Take turns. Defer. Be patient. But, do not be afraid of your own opinions, as men who are worth listening to listen as well. If you are intelligent, do not be ashamed or proud. If you are not, be courteous and sensible. Be quiet.

    By the way, if one expects a man to act like a gentleman, he will. I wait at doors and I switch places on the side-walk so as not to be on the outside (yes, I know the history of that so do not bring that up, commentators).

    Women need to up their expectations. If they do, I believe the right sort of men will reply to the signs of gentility. Enough with trying to be men. Let them be men and they will be if you are a lady. If not, do not associate with brutish people. Simple.

  6. Christopher says:

    The world does not need more women who act like men. [Do I hear an “Amen!”? ]

    Amen.

    God Bless.

  7. benedetta says:

    Supertradmum, Thanks for that, how very interesting and excellent advice.

    mamajen, Perhaps in this school there was a particular problem with the girls cursing and less so the boys. It does happen nowadays. If that were the case I would have no issue with them tailoring a particular concern to address some aspect that infringed on the civility of the academic atmosphere, even if it were caused mostly by girls. In fact I think these things as Supertradmum points out should be addressed with reference to sex.

    Both our boys and girls are under so much pressure these days. They both need strong and clear direction. I bought my son “The Art of Manliness” from the famous blog of the same name, and I think it is excellent material, much of it on manners and civility, for him to go over as the need arises with his Dad.

  8. wmeyer says:

    Supertradmum, I recall well my mother explaining to me that young ladies were trained to walk with a book on the head. When I see a woman today striding like a truck driver, I invariable think of that.

    A lady is proper, dresses properly, acts and speaks properly, and has the table manners I see mostly now only in memory.

    Of course, these days, the majority of the population, regardless of sex, display no manners at all, and at the table… ugh.

  9. ckdexterhaven says:

    Take a look at the commercials on tv. All of the husbands are idiots who need to be taught by the overbearing woman. It would be nice if there were a show where the mother wanted to be a mom and a wife, taking care of her family,like back in the good old days… And I’m a Gen Xer, not THAT old.

    The Pioneer Woman on Food Network has a quaint show and her simple meals seem oriented around keeping her hubby and kids happy. Her blog is also oriented in that way.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    wmeyer, and there is nothing a real lady likes best than a real gentleman…..a real gentleman puts a woman at ease and goes out of his way to make her comfortable. There are so few, so few…

  11. anilwang says:

    I’ll have to agree with mamajen that the pledge has to go both ways. Hard cursing fathers, husbands, brothers, and boy friends do not inspire women to be ladies, especially (in the case of the latter two) they want them to “talk dirty” or “fit in” with the hard cursing crowd or “not be stuck up and be like regular women”.

    Of course the pledge should be different for men and women (as Fr Z. pointed out about the Knight’s pledge, which should also include treating women as ladies whether or not they appreciate or understand such respect due to such poor male role models in the culture). Men cannot expect women to do it alone. The New Testament places the Fall into original sin squarely on Adam’s head, even thought Eve ate the apple first for a reason. If Adam had been willing to die for his bride to redeem her and ultimately himself instead of lowering his standards to go along with Eve and then blame her for his low standards, we would not be in the mess we are in now.

  12. fvhale says:

    On the subject of Ladies and Gentleman, I was wondering if anyone here is familiar with the films “Fireproof” and “Courageous” by Sherwood Pictures. (Yeah, they are Baptist, not Catholic).
    They are some of the best films I have seen in a very long time about marriage, family life, and Manhood. Talk about learning to be the Knight for your Lady.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    anilwang, true true, and a woman should never marry a brutish man thinking she can change him. A huge no-no…

  14. Jon_in_the_Nati says:

    I am pleased to see that some people actually are interested in bringing back traditional notions of what it means to be ladylike and what it means to be gentlemanly. Such things are in short supply these days.

    Still, this bit about a pledge not to curse strikes me as uncommonly silly. It is at least as ungentlemanly for a man to curse as it is unladylike for a lady to curse. We oughtn’t treat young men and young ladies the same in all respects, but here we should. Everyone should sign the pledge.

  15. wmeyer says:

    Supertradmum, I know, a lady appreciates a gentleman. But it is also true that in our fallen state, many men will sink to the level of the non-lady who attracts their attention. And if a woman persists in looking and acting like a tramp….

  16. Supertradmum says:

    Cursing is a serious sin as well as crude.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    wmeyer, agree, sadly

  18. Stumbler but trying says:

    “The world does not need more women who act like men. [Do I hear an “Amen!”? ] ”
    Amen!
    Being feminine, faithful, and free (Dr. Rhonda Chervin’s motto) a gift to hope for. May all women of faith be blessed with such a gift and well, all women of the world. Holy Mother Mary, pray for us.

  19. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    I’m not giving up my pants, not even for Lent.

    I gave up cursing years ago, but sometimes I slip. That said, I know plenty of men who don’t curse. My dad was well known for his “Od Darnit”. I always tried to figure out who “Od” was, but never did.

    Let me toss this out on the cursing matter: Why should anyone of either sex utter unclean words with the lips and mouth that will receive the Body of Christ?

  20. rcg says:

    The implication of any objection to this is that it is unfair for women to have a standard and the boys do not. Actually boys do have a standard, they should be clamouring to have a similar Gentleman’s Promise of their own. The inversion here is that people want to be relieved of an obligation unless everyone else does it, too. But that is why the Confiteor has us pray that “*I* have sinned”, not “We”. An what woman, or human, would not yearn to be able to say to repeat the words, “Do with me as you will,” and MEAN IT?

  21. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Oh, and pants can be more lady-like than some dresses. You know the kind… they make a woman look like a shrink-wrapped twinky.

  22. LisaP. says:

    ‘Fraid I get to be a bit of an oddball again.

    I sincerely believe that woman and men are inherently different.

    But I also sincerely believe there are many different ways to be a good woman who follows her vocation, just as there are many ways to be a good man following his. Some women are like Teresa of Avila, strong and mystical; some like Mother Theresa, in the gutter with the wretched, dirty poor; some like Joan of Arc, peasant in armor; some like Catherine of Sienna, words and visions.

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I don’t believe every woman is called to be a “lady” in the modern conventional sense — i.e. posture and soft voices. Now, you want to define lady as inner grace brought on by Grace, I’m good with that. But that *looks different* in every woman. Having the seam straight up the back of your pantyhose is not required to be a good person, or a full woman.

    As a semi-homesteader I am a big fan of the rough handed, strong armed, sun-scorched-faced image of the pioneer woman. All woman, that. She wasn’t trying to “be a man”, she was trying to be the exact woman God created her to be. And if some of them cussed every once in awhile, I imagine it was perfectly appropriate to the occasion. But if someone wants to refer me to the CCC on how cussing is always and automatically a sin (I distinguish that from a true curse or swearing an oath), I’ll be happy to click! :)

  23. Imrahil says:

    Hm… I wonder: when they said “cursing”, did they mean cursing. Blasphemy is a serious sin and non-blasphemic variants of taking the Lord’s name in vain also (St. Alphonsus argues that “because people do not think what they say”, the latter is in practice venial; but venial sins are serious too). On the other hand, in my country the literal translation of what you, I guess, might call the s-word (I disagree with these abbreviation things, btw., but then I do not plan to get into the moderation queue) and its moderated form (“dung”) is part of everyday language and I just see no moral problem with it. Even it case of women. That said, there is none either with the tradition that a lady rather does not use these words, and that women pledge themselves to fulfil these ancient standards, even in a specific school (there are still other schools, or they are merely asked, right?)For we are our grandparents’ grandchildren; this is our culture too.

    Is it sexist to ask young women what you do not ask young men? By literal meaning, yes, but then there is no commandment “do not be sexist”. Unjust discrimination (which usually is implied when the word “sexist” is used)? Of course not.

    I do not intend to write what being ladylike means… I cannot quite define it, which means that it would be very long and saying very little… but I do see one problem. It were disadvantageous if the high value of being ladylike were reduced to the little question of whether a woman uses this or that word morality does not forbid to use. (That the High School’s action is interpreted as asking them to be superior seems to lead, a bit, into the direction…)

  24. OrthodoxChick says:

    A few months back, I became aware that I had been swearing more than usual and so, when I went to confession, I confessed this sin. The counsel that the very wise priest gave me has helped me to become conscious of when I do it, rather than letting the swear words fly without a thought. I’ve cut waaaay back and am well on my way to becoming free of swearing, expressly because my priest’s advice in the confessional was so great.

    He told me, “Everytime you catch yourself after swearing, stop and picture yourself standing with Our Lady, having a conversation with her. Then picture her saying what you just said. How crude and distasteful would it sound to hear your words come out of Our Blessed Mother’s mouth? Think about what you say and how you say it. Imitate the holiness of the Mother of Our Lord. If you wouldn’t want to hear Mary say something, you shouldn’t say it either.”

    Try it. It works!

  25. anachy says:

    LisaP., I agree with everything you said and could not have said it better. I’ll say no more lest some on the board find my comments entirely too unladylike for their tastes.

  26. Simon_GNR says:

    Fr. Z: [Notice how he, correctly, writes of “sex” and not of “gender”? When you see “gender”, alarm bells must sound.]
    I wholeheartedly agree with you Father: I’m getting rather fed up with being asked what my “gender” is when filling in forms etc., and then not being given any genders from which to chose, i.e. being asked to decide between “male” and “female”. “Male” and “female” are sexes – the THREE genders are of course masculine, feminine and neuter. I’ve always regarded this misuse of language as yet another Americanism infecting British English, so I am encouraged to learn that an educated American gentleman such as Fr Z dislikes and protests about this inaccurate use of language.

    As for the main thrust of this article, I agree up to a point with the main sentiment, but I believe both girls and boys should be brought up to behave with decorum, good manners and dignity and to cultivate self-respect. I do regard it as somewhat sexist to ask girls to behave like ladies but not impose an equal requirement on boys to behave like gentlemen. Having said that, I believe that if girls and young women behave with dignity, modesty and decorum it cannot fail to have a beneficial effect on the attitude and behaviour of their male peers.

    As for how girls and women dress, as long as they’re not dressed too revealingly or in any way immodestly, there’s no reason they shouldn’t wear *trousers* (to me, here in England, “pants” are male underwear!) if that’s what they feel comfortable in and that’s what they fancy wearing. Just don’t expect me to find it enticing or attractive in any way! No woman that has ever drawn breath has ever increased her attractiveness by wearing trousers instead of a skirt or dress!!

  27. LisaP. says:

    Thanks, anachy, and thank you Imrahil for those interesting thoughts.

  28. anilwang says:

    LisaP, that much is true. If one looks at the Book of Proverbs, the description of the ideal wife looks a whole lot more like a pioneer woman than a courtly lady….but no-one would mistake the ideal husband with the ideal wife.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    No offence to anyone, but my great-grandma and grandma’s family on my dad’s side were on the Oregon Trail. They were pioneer women. They were also ladies. Why cannot one be strong and gentle at the same time?

    I think there is a misunderstanding that to be a lady is to be weak. Not so. My personal patrons, including Etheldreda and Rose of Lima were not wimpy women. But, they had “class”.

    Manners were created by the Christian community, by the Catholics, who raised the standard of women through-out the ages through love of Mary, our Queen and Mother.

    To be a Catholic is to be mannerly and to pass this way of life on to the children.

    We used napkins at every meal-cloth ones; we sat down for meals; we waited until all sat down and prayers were said before eating; we had polite conversation at meals; we did not watch television and eat.

    We stood up when adults entered a room; we were introduced and were quiet as children and did not interrupt adults. I trained my son to do likewise. Such things make for an ordered and peaceful family.

    To be a lady or a gentleman means being virtuous. Not weak, but spiritually strong.

  30. JacobWall says:

    @mamajen, anilwang,

    Yes, boys should also be taught not to curse, but for different reasons. For example, boys will one day be heads of households. Cursing is unbecoming to the head of house. Thus, the “program” for boys should be a different one, since the reasons are different.

    The method should also be different. My aunt recently told me that one day one of my uncles, then a teen, pushing boundaries, decided to make a face at the food that his mother and sisters had prepared. My grandfather physically chucked him out the door and made him wait to eat until the next meal. He had a zero-tolerance policy towards ungentlemanly behaviour. It didn’t make gentlemen out of all my uncles, but it made it clear what was expected of them. (The gentle request may have been adequate for the girls, but perhaps the school would like to consider the example of my grandfather in the case of the boys?)

    Making a sour face at the food you’re served would also be unladylike; however, I assume a different reaction would be required. Learning to be a gentleman and learning to be a lady are very different, even if the specific action in question is the same one. Thus they have to be taught in different “programs.”

    When the school caved and decided to apply the same program of not cursing to both sexes, at best, they watered their idea down to “don’t swear because it’s not nice,” or, at worst, they gave the message “since the girls have to be ladies, so do the boys.”

  31. JacobWall says:

    @Supertradmum,

    I agree. My grandmothers were ladylike, but by no means weak. While I don’t think the “chucking-out-the-door” approach would be appropriate for girls, firmness and strength is part of being ladylike and teaching girls to be ladylike, albeit a different kind of firmness. After all, as Mr. Archibold implies, if it’s the job of ladies’ to whip the boys into gentlemen, they’ll need a pretty firm hand.

  32. Former Altar Boy says:

    Definition of a lady: a woman in whose presence a man is a gentleman.
    Unfortunately, too many of today’s boys are not, not have been, taught what being a gentleman entails.

  33. Supertradmum says:

    Blessed Cardinal Newman

    It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain. This description is both refined and, as far as it goes, accurate. He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him; and he concurs with their movements rather than takes the initiative himself. His benefits may be considered as parallel to what are called comforts or conveniences in arrangements of a personal nature: like an easy chair or a good fire, which do their part in dispelling cold and fatigue, though nature provides both means of rest and animal heat without them. The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast; — all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort, he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny. If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blunder. [From The Idea of a University, 1852]

  34. Gustave Dedronez says:

    Coarseness and vulgarity of language is not a sin unless it is used for the sake of giving offence or, just as with other language, of conveying a wicked idea. Cursing is not the same thing as coarseness.
    Though we ought to be respectful of others, in accordance with their natural dignity, we shouldn’t be too enamoured of early 20th century attitudes; they were well and good, and personally we might like such manners a lot, but culture changes, and one can show as much respect without antiquated ceremonies as with.
    To paraphrase C.S. Lewis: though standards of purity and respectful conduct may change, just as a chaste Elizabethan lady might have used language that would have shocked a Victorian one, the ideas themselves are universal human virtues, and can still be applied to both.

  35. inara says:

    I am blessed with a husband who does his best to be gentlemanly & tries to teach our 5 boys to do the same. I’ve often told him that before we met, I didn’t think men like that actually existed.

    Here are a few of my favorite apropos quotes:

    “Chivalry isn’t dead ~ it just went to the same place being ladylike went.” (meme going around)

    “The duty of every man is the dignity of every woman.” ~ JPII

    “If women do not insist on good manners, everyone knows nobody else will!” ~ Chesterton

  36. Springkeeper says:

    As a retired (female) Marine, I have noticed a monumental change inthe way women speak. It was odd to hear women swear when I first enlisted but within fifteen years, it became common. When I stop by base now, it is usually the WOMEN I have to tell to watch their mouths. When I was out of uniform, no one ever knew that I was a Marine because of the way I dressed and acted, now these younger women butch their hair, get multiple tattoos, and swear like it’s going out of style (and they are not better Marines for it, I might add).

  37. Springkeeper says:

    Oh, and on a note about the last sentance of the posting, I have six children and will have more if God wills it. Children are a blessing from God and the only external gift we can hope to see in heaven.

  38. Supertradmum says:

    I said cursing was a sin-and I did not make this up. Is on examination of conscience lists…. And, coarse language is as well. Anything which is disrespectful and rude is sinful, against both charity and truth. A virtuous person is not a coarse person and a coarse person is not exhibiting virtue. All the great saints are gentlemenly (well excepting Jerome, who admitted his flaws). Peace, patience, kindness, etc. the list is to long. Almost midnight here.

  39. Bea says:

    I remember the day I got my hearing aid.
    I had seen some teenagers (girls and boys) jostling and laughing like kids.
    “youthful exuberance” I thought.
    THEN I came out with my new hearing aid. Yikes.
    I couldn’t believe my ears. If they hadn’t cost so much, I would have trashed them. (the hearing aids, not the “kids”, though I felt like thrashing the kids).

    My father always wore a suit and tie: summer or winter.
    Shopping and window shopping and people-watching was our favorite pastime.
    On greeting ladies that we knew, my dad always took his hat off as he chatted with a lady and not replace it until we bid adieu.
    An old gentleman photographer that lived up the street always did the same for us, even though we were just children.
    A beautiful era, gone with the wind.

    “Dressing with Dignity” by Colleen Hammond changed my daughter-in-law’s outlook on wearing pants/trousers. When she switched to skirts and dresses she was amazed at the change of attitude towards her. Now men now opened doors for her and the grocery-boy was always ready to carry-out
    the groceries for her, when before he did not. Now my granddaughters always wear skirts and dresses and they have tea parties with their friends and are learning the graces of womanhood.

    I pray I live to see the day when the civility, modesty and dignity that I grew up with, are recuperated by a world gone wild.

    I admit that I did have a lapse of it (dignified dress) in the busy-ness of child-rearing, myself , and I regret that I once did.

  40. mamajen says:

    JacobWall,

    I completely agree with you that different approaches should be used for the different sexes. I like Father Z’s idea a lot.

  41. Gustave Dedronez says:

    Coarseness or “vulgarity” is not inherently rude or disrespectful. It depends on the situation. One can be virtuous and quite vulgar in his language. We should never pretend that externals are more important than they are, for it is wrong to make it seem like virtue is any harder than it already is by adducing unnecessary things to it. One can be perfectly respectful to others by wearing whatever clothes (of a not obscene sort) are appropriate according to the culture, using whatever manners are culturally accepted, and whatever language and expressions are accepted by his cultural milieu. The first half of last century is over and done with. The west has a different, perhaps less elevated, culture. What is evil in it should be resisted, but what is simply a change ought not to be condemned.

  42. joan ellen says:

    Mr. Archbold presents the problem/solution well. “Women civilize men. If women start acting like men, the men don’t get formed in the proper way.”
    Supertradmum – You covered the important manners/etiquette. Thank you.

    OrthodoxChick says: 7 February 2013 at 3:43 pm
    “The counsel that the very wise priest gave me…” in confession:
    “He told me, ‘“Everytime you catch yourself after swearing, stop and picture yourself standing with Our Lady, having a conversation with her. Then picture her saying what you just said. How crude and distasteful would it sound to hear your words come out of Our Blessed Mother’s mouth? Think about what you say and how you say it. Imitate the holiness of the Mother of Our Lord. If you wouldn’t want to hear Mary say something, you shouldn’t say it either.”’
    “Try it. It works!”

    Thanks, Orthodox Chick. I want to memorize these words…for my unthinking truthfulness which can be very harsh and hurtful, not Mary like at all.

    As for pants/trousers/slacks on women…a Protestant woman, 20+ years ago told me “We women are not to wear pants.” Our pastor tells young girls they can wear them at home, not out in public. At home I put a skirt on over my slacks when going out to do yard work. Some of the women in my circle wear jumpers only for cleaning/working indoors or outdoors. They don’t even own slacks. Am in the process of getting rid of slacks.

    Amish women and Plain Catholic women come to mind when I think of ladylike but strong women.

    Isn’t part of our Catholic identity our identity as men and women?

    Am going to email the link for this etiquette topic to my list. It is like bringing back Emily Post.

  43. StJude says:

    As a rule.. men will only do what women will put up with. Change young ladies into people who wont tolerate a vulgar man… change the world.

  44. benedetta says:

    I am not saying that men and boys should be exempt and permitted to swear, by no means. I certainly agree that men need high standards to learn to behave like gentlemen as well. All I am saying is that, in defense of what the school did, possibly we should take into consideration that there may have been a particular problem in that school with the girls in particular. We don’t know all the surrounding facts and in schools the dynamics are often such that cliques and groups of girls or boys can be taken by one or other particular bad behavior in force. I don’t see anything in what was posted that the school felt that boys should be given a pass, and nor do I personally believe that. I just think there is more to this picture than just concluding out of hand that the school was discriminating with arbitrary or sexist motives. There could possibly be reasons as far as I can see.

  45. Suburbanbanshee says:

    St. Bernardino of Siena was of course very big on piety toward the Holy Name of Jesus. In that tradition, the Holy Name Society used to be one of the biggest Catholic men’s sodalities/clubs. It was basically dedicated to men not misusing Jesus’ Name, and doing reparation for the blasphemous misuses committed by themselves and the rest of the world. (It’s probably also one reason why American Catholics don’t habitually use Jesus’ Name easily when talking about religion, but there’s plenty of other linguistic/cultural reasons for that.)

    So yeah, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, when it comes to men’s promises. We just need to remember it.

  46. maryh says:

    I agree with LisaP and Anachy and Gustave Dedronez. I think a lot of this has more to do with changing and changeable customs than directly with differences between the sexes. And of course, in the case of cursing/blasphemy, that’s wrong for both sexes. Simple crudeness may or may not be wrong – I like Imrahil’s and Gustave’s distinction between blasphemy and crudeness/coarseness.

    As for the long list of behaviors for ladies and gentlemen that Supertradmum listed, while I have great respect for her list, and do believe in manners, I’m afraid I’d probably never qualify as a lady, being a bit of a bull (cow?) in a china shop, and quite likely to “walk like a trucker.”

    That said, I do agree that there should be social “markers” for the differences between men and women, and that that can include different behaviors and clothing. And if being a “lady” means accepting one’s womanhood as something inherently good, rather than as a consolation prize for not being male, then I’m all for being a lady.

    Modest and feminine clothing, where feminine means suited to the female body, rather than restricting motion, is a good start. (That doesn’t say anything for or against dresses or skirts, which may or may not restrict motion.) A woman who dresses modestly recognizes how differently the way a woman dresses affects a man as opposed to the other way around. She acknowledges the difference between the sexes and shows charity toward men.

    I rather like the idea of men opening the door for women, or some such sign of respect / chivalry. I think it is nice to appreciate women as potential (or actual) life-bearers, especially since the physical aspects of that role can be quite a trial at times. Instead, women in our society are called “breeders” or “brood mares” or “cows” and insisting a woman carry her healthy pregnancy to term is to turn her into a “forced incubator”. Apparently, if a pregnant woman actually wants the child, she is merely an “incubator.”

    Ah, and now I have wandered into the immense disrespect our society has for that most womanly of conditions – motherhood, in all its aspects, so I’ll stop here.

  47. UncleBlobb says:

    A woman makes for a lousy version of a man.

  48. joan ellen says:

    Gustave Dedronez says: 7 February 2013 at 6:32 pm

    “The first half of last century is over and done with. The west has a different, perhaps less elevated, culture.”
    “…perhaps less elevated, culture.” Those words certainly describe the current culture. Is that what we want to promote?

    For example, I am trying to fit in more than 24 hours can hold and have become a sloppy lady, but that cannot be an excuse. Who really wants that? It is less elevated and not becoming. A more elevated culture sets an example and is also a reminder that we are not ‘pigs in the pen.’ Not to be argumentive, just trying to sort n separate.

    On the other hand, a more layed back, relaxed culture may not be so bad. Our current culture could use a little more class.

    Perhaps we could settle on more elevated, less elevated, and more or less elevated and promote the more or less elevated.

  49. joan ellen says:

    On the other hand, a more layed back, relaxed culture may not be so bad. Yet, our current culture could use a little more class.

  50. Bender says:

    A real man does good and avoids evil because it is the right thing to do — that is, a real man is a gentleman for its own sake, no women required to be the causal agent of doing good.

  51. LisaP. says:

    Thank you, Mr. Dedronez, for that clear explanation of your point of view.

  52. LisaP. says:

    I have no problem with finding some of the “ladylike” behavior admirable. I am an Audrey Hepburn fan, she’s lovely.

    My problem is in equating genteel with moral, or even with womanhood.

    There are some things on the list that are moral, and I’ll allow the possibility of them being very connected with God’s creation of woman — an example from above would be kindness. Kindness is good, moral, and good women are kind.

    Other things on the list can be quite nice, but are not necessary and not suited to every woman. I’ll take the example of speaking quietly. I know some incredible women who are not soft spoken. I know some incredible women who are soft spoken. I also have known women who seem to think being soft spoken makes them more womanly, so they are very soft spoken as they are being, for example, very unkind.

    I take to heart Imrahil’s point that we are our grandmothers’ grandchildren — I think that’s very nice. And important. But other than this idea of cultural continuity and love of family and personal tradition, I think it’s pretty important not to conflate passing, ephemeral goodnesses of some in this world with eternal and universal goods. I can admire my friend who expresses her womanhood with good food served abundantly, I can see that as an expression of her identity and her sex, without feeling like if I can’t cook a proper pot roast I’m not being a whole woman. Too many women have gone wrong by trying very hard to go right and ending up in dead end alleys because they mistook the trappings for womanhood for the heart of it.

  53. Fr Sean Coyle says:

    The source where I read this story [http://www.news.com.au/news/watch-your-language-ladies/story-fnejlrpu-1226570833965] carried this statement: ‘The girls were asked to stand and raise their right hands and vow, “I do solemnly swear not to use profanities of any kind within the walls and properties of Queen of Peace High School. In other words, I swear not to swear. So help me God.”’

    In other words, minors were being asked in a Catholic school to ‘solemnly swear’ about a matter of good behavior and discipline. They were being taught that promising not to swear is on the same level as making a lifelong commitment in marriage, through religious vows, etc.

    My late father worked on construction sites all his life and was a much respected general foreman. I worked with him the summer before I was ordained priest – I was a subdeacon at the time – and though I heard a lot of what we call in Ireland ‘bad language’ I never heard such from my father. And he never shouted at anyone. He led by example. My mother once told me that in all her years with him she had never heard him use bad language.

    The school trivialized genuine swearing, ie, invoking God in a very solemn situation, and taught both boys and girls that boys have lower standards to live up to than girls do. Is that what the Gospels teach us?

  54. maryh says:

    LisaP “because they mistook the trappings for womanhood for the heart of it”

    Well said.

  55. Cathy says:

    I’d give up pants in a heartbeat if they would put pretty back into dresses and skirts for women. I hate to say it, but trying to find a pretty dress or pretty full skirts is pretty difficult.

  56. Imrahil says:

    Dear @LisaP, thank you very much for the flowers.

    Just putting in some other (litterally) two cents of mine:

    If we want that the 2nd commandment is not broken, we need to give people (foremost ourselves) expletives to use without breaking it; if necessary by inventing them.

    But: There is a sense in the fact that words in some times words were or are forbidden by manners; and this sense is that, when we do feel the need to break a rule for expressing our emotion, we have a rule to break that is not binding under sin.

  57. Precentrix says:

    While I agree mostly with what has been said, I have to mention this: For some reason, there is a backlash in certain circles where men expect feminine women to be, essentially, wet drips. I recognise the male desire to ‘protect’ and so forth as a good thing, but I’m just not like that. I grew up in modern society. There has to be a balance.

    I am a long-skirts 3/4 sleeves kind of girl. However, I have been criticised by some basically for not wearing a sack. I have a waist, get over it. I consider myself well brought-up. But I will quite happily go to the pub, drink beer and eat pizza with my fingers. I don’t think of this as inappropriate or rude, but then British culture may be a little different here. You can take your children to the pub if you like. I learnt, by the time I was eight, to lay a table for multiple courses, with different glasses etc., fancy name cards etc. However, we routinely eat in the kitchen. Sometimes standing up. I can walk with a book on my head and know how to get into and out of a car ‘correctly’ but with sufficiently wide skirts I don’t see the need. I seem to freak out some of the men I’ve known from TLM circles by actually having opinions and not being afraid to voice them. I resent it when these men essentially dismiss what I say because I’m a woman. Sorry, if I’m wrong, please prove it by argument not by some kind of vague appeal to unspecified authority. I talk “too loudly” which, otoh, is a useful talent in someone trained as a singer and public speaker. I dare to venture opinions on matters of politics etc. and not just about which puppy is the cutest. And thus, according to some vague impression people have that women, to be ladylike, must in fact be wet drips, I don’t fit the bill.

    I am not a feminist. I respect women for staying at home to raise their children, and see this as possibly the most important ‘job’ ever. I believe in home education. I believe in dressing modestly and behaving modestly. I loath and despise “inclusive language” and androgenising culture. But I think that there are more useful things in life than crochet-ing doilies. (I like crochet but never understood that!).

    May I suggest reading the letters of S.S. Pius XII to women? They are very enlightening and realistic with regards to women’s increasing participation in external society. He stresses how this participation and increasing ‘activity’ should not mean compromising one’s femininity.

  58. Precentrix says:

    Sorry, might I add:

    I think to some extent this patronising attitude of certain men makes young women want to rebel against the notion of femininity. If men will allow their daughters to take strong, feminine role models as our guides, I think something might be achieved. Even Ste Therese of Lisieux wasn’t a drip (she was a Norman and pretty wilful as a child!). Consider the women saints and you will find a whole host of different personalities and many who were willing to stand up for themselves even to death (and some who were unafraid to “handbag popes”). Of course, the martyrology describes them as “virile”…

  59. Precentrix says:

    When I say “stand up for themselves” I don’t mean “themselves”… aaargh… for virtue, for justice, for right, for the Lord… you get it…

  60. Supertradmum says:

    There is a confusion here between lady-like behavior and weakness. What a lady knows is what is inappropriate or appropriate behavior.

    As to a more relaxed society, we have lost, again, the boundaries between home and society, home and the world. I lament this.

    Saying that different personalities cannot be ladies is a misunderstanding of the idea of a lady.

    All the saints would have been following the life of virtues and living in that stage of virtue which included gentility. We all have been given the virtues but it is up to us to cultivate these. And, a loud, brassy woman is not virtuous. This is not about culture, but about the growth of the interior life. This can start in childhood.

  61. Mariana says:

    Diane,

    I’m afraid “Od Darnit” is one of those old curses, (like “Ods Blood” in The Scarlet Pimpernel) that really refer to God, but leaving put the G sanitises it. So, unfortunately, it means God darnit and God’s Blood.

  62. LisaP. says:

    Imrahil, that cracks me up! We actually went through this whole thing with the girls, people use “Oh my G___” here almost three times a sentence, so it was going to creep into their speech if we weren’t careful. At first, we said, “Oh my goodness” but it was way too “close”, so we actually picked a word. Now if my girls see something striking they say, “Petunias”. Seriously, I’m not making this up! We pre-read your mind. . . .of course, I grew up in a house where my mom used “sugar jets” very often on some days, so that was kind of our family tradition.

  63. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Mariana, I guess Diana know that by the time she wrote this comment, and was smiling when she wrote it… That said, are these sanitized curses sanitized or aren’t they so much really? Interesting question to the moral theologian… relevant as well.

    Dear @Supertradmum, while I do not disagree with what you say… A lost norm of society, even if the loss is lamented, does not produce a moral obligation.

    Dear @perceptrix, that was great. And you know, I usually always critize in my comments…

    Still… I think Queen Victoria once said that women must let men protect them because otherwise men have nothing to do. I wonder if she was right and if she was not too much in favor of women, actually; but there’s something to it.

    And say what you will, it does produce a sort of feeling if you accompany, at night, a female friend (no engagement nor any remote hope to one) to the subway station after a party and cross the way of some three – well, seemingly ungentlemanly – men.

  64. Supertradmum says:

    I do think that there is a connection between virtues and manners. Even the monks and nuns in the harsh and barbaric Middle Ages knew this. If we have lost this sensibility, we no longer understand the life of virtues.

  65. LisaP. says:

    anilwang,
    Thank you for the reminder to review the proverbs again! Some of my favorites. I think what’s great is how specific the advice is and yet how broadly it could be applied. Many very different good women that I know could still see themselves in the descriptions.

    Precentrix; “I have a waist, get over it” — will have me smiling all day. I think people enter all sorts of communities and movements with mixed motives, and differing motives. It seems to me we have to be on the alert for mistaken motives in ourselves and aware of the possibility in others. I’ve been places where the men think they are being “real men” by looking askance at any woman who raises her eyes from the ground. The men are gravely mistaken, and while I sympathize with how difficult it is to be a man in these confusing times that deride and corrupt and confuse the issue of manhood, if they are allowed to continue in their error they will do great harm and lead others to do the same.

  66. LisaP. says:

    Supertradmum,
    Like so many times, you have me, you have me, you have me — then you lose me! :)

    Of course, there can and often is a connection between virtue and manners. Belloc’s “courtesy” and all that. Many, many people can be moved towards virtue through manners. Manners are a life of habit, and habit is a strong force for good or evil.

    But not *everyone* gets to virtue through etiquette. And not everyone who is coarse or lacks gentility lacks virtue. Or a strong sexual identity.

    And, unfortunately, some who are very well mannered are also seemingly extremely lacking in virtue, and often have a very mixed sexual identity (easy example, look at all the politicians who know which fork to use while writing legislation that supports evil, or who can speak with quite a soft manner at a state dinner while sitting next to their “life partners”). Manners only protect your virtue and your womanhood if they are secondary to those things.

  67. inara says:

    Precentrix, well said!! I absolutely agree on all points. (from another long-skirted, 3/4 sleeved girl who also happens to have a waist & a resonant voice ;o))

  68. inara says:

    LisaP. ~ this was insightful: “unfortunately, some who are very well mannered are also seemingly extremely lacking in virtue.”
    I’ve found that to be very true, especially in personal experience. Growing up, we knew several very wealthy families & their sons could dance a perfect waltz, offer a charming toast, and to all appearances, be impeccably articulate, chivalrous & kind. And they were the first ones to try to lure you out for a stroll, so they could cop a feel…

  69. LisaP. says:

    inara,
    You know, I think that’s a huge part of these conversations, personal experience! The examples you’ve run across one way and another have a huge influence on how you view discussions like these, I think that’s a major point.

  70. The Masked Chicken says:

    And now a public service announcement for our readers whose first language is not English…

    When Precentrix said, ” For some reason, there is a backlash in certain circles where men expect feminine women to be, essentially, wet drips…”

    She did not mean that men expect women to take showers…wet drips =(not) dripping wet

    The Every Helpful Chicken

  71. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Lisa P., interesting, and thank you!

    Only… but this gets a little o.t. … as it were, I cannot but think that “O my God” or “good Lord in Heaven!” or the like is a less devotionful sort of prayer, and not profanity. Is not the Psalter full of such ways of speaking to God? Do we need to kneel down and be silent to pray? I very personallywould rather see a moral issue in replacing the name of the Lord with, for instance, “Gosh”. Read Mark Twain on the Germans and cursing, then perhaps you know why I think so… Seems that the English-speaking culture feels differently. [Not that I would think there were no profanity. A profanity even a German recognizes as such is, for instance, “Herrgott noch einmal” in anger.)

    Back to topic: Dear @chicken, thank you very much.

  72. Torpedo1 says:

    Precentrix,
    Your post made me laugh. I’m right there with you in everything you said. i am not a wet drip by any means, but I dress modestly, don’t flirt with guys and love it when my fiance holds open doors and pulls out chairs for me. He also helps me into my coat which is another lost gentelmanly mannerism. I think the only thing I would add to this is, that I believe what we mean when we say we want men to act like gentelmen and women to act like ladies has to do with chastity. I think it is at the heart of this entire observation. I told my fiance once that I didn’t think that men like him were left at all. I thought I would have to say No, a lot to who ever I decided to form a relationship with. I thought I’d have to tell him no, to a goodnight kiss on the first date, No, to trips to sicluded places in a car, no to heavy petting and all of that which society says women should say yes to. I was willing to say no to all of those things and when I found my Intended, I never had to say no, let alone even think it. He has never asked for those things, has never pressured me to even do them. He wants our first kiss to be on our wedding day and though some here may disagree with that, I am happy to let him have that. He is always modist around me and I am always modist around him. I find, that because we don’t have all the physical stuff yet in our relationship, we have learned to communicate better and we have gotten to know each other. I can’t wait to marry him and the thing I love most about him is that he treats me like a lady. His behavior and chaste attitude around me makes me feel more treasured as a woman than I ever thought possible. It inspires me to pay him the same respect. I feel, if men and women treat each other this way, we can help each other in holiness, so that we can be what God wants us to be, better than we are.

  73. Cafea Fruor says:

    About pants: I’ve gone back and forth about pants on women and their merits or lack thereof. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not getting rid of mine, though I do wear plenty of skirts and am not solely a pants-wearer. There is a place for pants even in a woman’s life. But I do think it makes a huge difference what cut/style of pants are worn. For instance, there’s a big difference between, say, skinny jeans and wide-leg slacks. And there are skirts that look manly (like a lot of business suit skirts) vs. very feminine pants like palazzos. And well-cut wide-leg pants actually make me (a plump woman with zilch for a waist) look more feminine than most long skirts do. And there are reasons of practicality for my wearing pants. Would I wear pants to a classy dinner out? No. Would I wear them during the summer when there’s not a need for extra warmth? No. But would I wear them when I’m walking my six-mile round trip commute to work in sub-freezing temperatures or walking to church in wind and cold, driving rain? Yes. Would I wear them when hiking and kayaking? Heck yes. And many women with no pants whatsoever in their wardrobe have no clue how to sit modestly while wearing long skirts, and many women can wear skirts and act like men (some of the LCWR blazers w/skirts crowd come to mind…).

    To those who say flat out that women should never wear pants, let me ask, when and why did men start wearing them? I don’t recall any icons of Jesus and the Twelve kicking back in a pair of Dockers, do you? So when someone says, “But what would Mary wear?”, well then, what, gentlemen, would Jesus wear? Even in ancient Rome, where pants did exist, men frequently only wore them for military wear, and then they would return to togas and what not for all other times. Point is, wearing pants was a matter of utility. I’m not suggesting that men should all go back to the long cloaks that Israelites wore in Jesus’ time, but if men’s clothing can evolve for purposes of practicality, why can’t women’s? Is femininity something that must exist in conflict with practicality? I don’t think so.

  74. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Pants are an objective good.

  75. maryh says:

    I can sympathize with what @Supertradmum says about what a lady isn’t – ie, weakness, or as @Precentrix says, being a “wet drip.”

    Part of what the anti-woman part of the feminist movement did was redefine a lot of terms: being a ‘lady’ meant to be weak and have no opinion of your own; pregnancy and childbirth were merely biological mammalian functions; taking care of your own children meant to participate in unfulfilling, menial labor that any really intelligent woman would not consider for one moment.

    Oh, and let’s not forget that our Blessed Mother was just a servile, passive woman who never did anything important. While at the same time being an impossible role model for women because she was both a virgin and a mother at the same time – (sarcasm>I guess Jesus was a much easier role model for the guys – he just raised people, including himself, from the dead.<sarcasm)

    It's great to hear people actually talking about what it means to be lady, or what it means to be a virtuous woman. And to recognize and talk about how each sex affects the other in our paths toward holiness and heaven.

  76. Supertradmum says:

    maryh, thanks for the backup. There is a huge misunderstanding of the virtues here on this thread. The virtues are the very things which create real manners, not fake ones. St. Benedict knew this and his rule is full of the idea that real humility brings deferment, kindness, protecting the weak, interior peace, quietness, an interior silence which allows God to become all in all, and the focal point of love for each other in the community.

    Without manners, one cannot live in a peaceful family where prayer is learned or where respect for each other is learned.

    Manners come from interior dispositions of chastity, purity of heart and caritas. St. Bernard of Clarivaux, from a family of knights, stressed valour, liberality, generosity, diligence, patience, all characteristics of the knight and actively made the comparisons between holiness and gentility for his monks. One cannot be chaste without kindness and gentleness; one cannot be honest without humility and deference; one cannot be dignified without self-control. The four cardinal virtues, prudence, temperance, justice and courage by definition will lead to the type of gentlemanly and womanly behavior we label as mannerly. How we know a person is living a life of virtue is how they treat others and act in a way which is appropriate to where they are. Appropriateness is constant use of justice to give each person and situation its due.

    I think of all the great saints of our own times, and cannot imagine them being rude, or crude, or loud, or ungraceful. The past year, I heard a fantastic sermon from a Latin Mass priest in Dublin who said that it was the duty of parents to create a home where solitude and recollection were possible. This means that one gives up the love of ceaseless activity for a slower pace and a modicum of mutual respect.

    Strength comes from the inside out, not the outside in. Virtues, which we all have from baptism, must be developed. My grandmothers were ladies and virtuous women. We had role models.

    They could take apart the deer brought in from the hunt on the butcher block, and yet wear white gloves on Sunday and pour out tea like a queen. Why not?

    I was taught how to shoot, do archery, fish and cook outside over an open fire. I love Dutch ovens. Yet, I also know what is appropriate in other situations which demand finesse. Without women, there would be no civilization and the creators of our Western Civilization had the most gentle, most beautiful Lady ever made to lead them to develop chivalry and nobility–Our Mother and Queen, Mary.

    The modern depictions of her do not help us understand the depth of her womanly grace. That she is the most beautiful woman ever created means that not only does she show us the virtues and how to live them, but how to be total women. And being a total woman means embracing our femininity, a great gift from the Creator. I love Mary and I want to be like her as much as the grace of God allows; note, grace, the sharing in God’s Life indicates a graciousness. If we are living in sanctifying grace, we shall be showering blessings on others.

  77. Supertradmum says:

    maryh, thanks for the backup. There is a huge misunderstanding of the virtues here on this thread. The virtues are the very things which create real manners, not fake ones. St. Benedict knew this and his rule is full of the idea that real humility brings deferment, kindness, protecting the weak, interior peace, quietness, an interior silence which allows God to become all in all, and the focal point of love for each other in the community.

    Without manners, one cannot live in a peaceful family where prayer is learned or where respect for each other is learned.

    Manners come from interior dispositions of chastity, purity of heart and caritas. St. Bernard of Clarivaux, from a family of knights, stressed valour, liberality, generosity, diligence, patience, all characteristics of the knight and actively made the comparisons between holiness and gentility for his monks. One cannot be chaste without kindness and gentleness; one cannot be honest without humility and deference; one cannot be dignified without self-control. The four cardinal virtues, prudence, temperance, justice and courage by definition will lead to the type of gentlemanly and womanly behavior we label as mannerly. How we know a person is living a life of virtue is how they treat others and act in a way which is appropriate to where they are. Appropriateness is constant use of justice to give each person and situation its due.

    I think of all the great saints of our own times, and cannot imagine them being rude, or crude, or loud, or ungraceful. The past year, I heard a fantastic sermon from a Latin Mass priest in Dublin who said that it was the duty of parents to create a home where solitude and recollection were possible. This means that one gives up the love of ceaseless activity for a slower pace and a modicum of mutual respect.

    Strength comes from the inside out, not the outside in. Virtues, which we all have from baptism, must be developed. My grandmothers were ladies and virtuous women. We had role models.

    They could take apart the deer brought in from the hunt on the butcher block, and yet wear white gloves on Sunday and pour out tea like a queen. Why not?

    I was taught how to shoot, do archery, fish and cook outside over an open fire. I love Dutch ovens. Yet, I also know what is appropriate in other situations which demand finesse. Without women, there would be no civilization and the creators of our Western Civilization had the most gentle, most beautiful Lady ever made to lead them to develop chivalry and nobility–Our Mother and Queen, Mary.

    The modern depictions of her do not help us understand the depth of her womanly grace. That she is the most beautiful woman ever created means that not only does she show us the virtues and how to live them, but how to be total woman. And being a total woman means embracing our femininity, a great gift from the Creator. I love Mary and I want to be like her as much as the grace of God allows; note, grace, the sharing in God’s Life indicates a graciousness. If we are living in sanctifying grace, we shall be showering blessings on others.

  78. maryh says:

    Thank you, @supertradmum. I agree with a lot of what you say. But then, as @LisaP said, you have me, you have me, and then you lose me.

    What a beautiful paragraph about how the source of virtuous manners are rooted in prudence, temperance, justice and courage and the “interior dispositions of chastity, purity of heart and caritas”! I could print that out and post it on my wall. There is not a single word I disagree with.

    But then you go on to say “I think of all the great saints of our own times, and cannot imagine them being rude, or crude, or loud, or ungraceful.” Deliberate rudeness is probably always a sin against charity at least; crudeness may be as well, depending on what that means – in some places and times, simply writing as I am now would be considered both rude and crude.

    But to say that being loud or ungraceful shows a lack of virtue seems to conflate personal characteristics with virtue. Certainly, we tend to need more silence in our lives, and less busyness. If that’s what you mean by not being loud, I agree completely. But I just cannot see how a failure to be soft spoken makes anyone more virtuous. And I particularly don’t see how a lack of the physical characteristic of moving pleasantly (gracefulness) has anything to do with virtue at all.

  79. LisaP. says:

    Yes, Supertradmum, but what does that have to do with forks? And if I learned the Blessed Mother had brown hair, would I have to dye mine? You see what I’m getting at?

    I agree that many balk at the idea of being a lady because “lady” is defined poorly in our culture. But I’m going off your definitions. I simply don’t believe you have to be perpetually gentle, avoid raucous laughter, defer to others in conversation to be a good woman of God. We have no indication that Mary herself leaned back and let everyone else talk during her lifetime. Maybe she was absolutely full of gusto. Maybe she laughed really loudly with all her teeth showing. What makes you think she didn’t? More importantly, what makes you think she would have any problem with a woman who did? When we imitate Mary, we imitate her holiness, not her personality, because God created *me* to be specifically who I am just as he created *her* to be specifically who she is. God wants us all to love, which is what we imitate Mary in doing. Sometimes that means we show love by laying out a beautiful table that makes everyone feel warm and appreciate the greatness of creation in the small, pretty things. Sometimes that means we show love by raucously cussing out our husbands in the midst of labor, making him laugh to help him from being all twisted up inside with worry.

    I don’t mind you being Audrey Hepburn one bit, I’m so grateful their are Audrey Hepburns still in this world, one or more of my daughters might want to be Audrey Hepburn and they won’t learn it from me, so I’m glad others are there. It would be a loss if that disappeared from the world. But we don’t all need to be that way. We each have our own way, and not one is less womanly than another, if done as God wills. No?

  80. LisaP. says:

    Imrahil,
    Coolest priest I ever knew — slap you on the back of the head no nonsense Polish immigrant said Mass with his back killing him well into his 80s amazing man — hit me with this once in at Confession — was it praying or not when you said that! I do think there’s that to consider, but for myself I can’t be sure enough that I’m not just using it to mean “that surprised me!” so I avoid it as a near occasion of sin, which is a shame as I think you’re saying because it removes from the culture the ability to be, essentially, repeatedly praying throughout the day. Unfortunately, in America the “Oh My ____” has turned into pretty much a single vocalization that in not way is connected with God at all — I don’t know if you’ve seen but we have media labeled OM_, “OM_” is said on its own all the time. It’s one of the things that most bothers me about our current situation. I’m googling Twain on German ASAP!

  81. Supertradmum says:

    maryh, I think I used the word graciousness, rather than gracefulness, but I think I can address the second as well.

    In a crowded store, when a person pushes one to the side and does not say, “pardon” or “excuse me”, that is a lack of graciousness. If one is in that same store, and one is bumped into by women who are only concerned about a sale item, that is a lack of gracefulness as well. Hurried, impatient and jarring physical behavior indicates (outside, of course, some physical disability), the lack of interior peace and the appropriateness to which I referred.

    We teach our children, hopefully, not to eat too fast, or rush out the door without saying good bye, or not to slam the door, and so on, as those are symptoms of a lack of respect to the rest of the family quiet and order. In the convent, for example, one must be as quiet as possible in shutting doors, windows, walking in hallways and up stairs. One of the things I was commended on by the nuns last year when I was “in” were for such things. No banging of dishes, or calling attention to one’s self by noise. I was trained as such at home.

    To bear in mind others and their peace of mind and to be aware of creating a place of peace in the home or convent requires a certain graciousness or gracefulness.

  82. LisaP. says:

    their = there
    How embarrassing.

  83. Supertradmum says:

    LisaP, No, but we have to agree to disagree, as I think we are simply not coming from the same place. I am using the Rule of St. Benedict and the subsequent writers in the Western world on the correlation between virtue and certain types of behaviour. I have written on my blog, for example, about women not laughing loudly and Benedict does not want his monks to do so, either-just to take one example. Why? Several reasons. First, modesty. A modest person does not attract attention to his or her self and loudness does that; second, personal discipline, which indicates an interior maturity and humility; third, contentment and peace, denoting an interior disposition to silence-if we are not in some silence, we shall not find our true hearts-ever; four, flightiness and fickleness indicate a lack of grounding and a seriousness within which decorum reveals; five, fidelity to grace-that is, if we are too caught up in our own exterior actions, we are not in tune with the finer movement of the Spirit. Connected to this last one is a stability of personhood, a lack of unnecessary movement, which we can call poise, but which indicates an inward peace, which was noted by the Desert Fathers.

    No, I cannot imagine the Queen of Heaven and Earth laughing with her teeth showing, which also is very rude for a lady, as well as drawing attention to one’s physicality in a sexual way.

    I am sure you think I am a dinosaur, but I do have a long history of monastic and lay spirituality which shows that how we hold ourselves is an extension of our interior holiness. Can these things be learned without holiness? Of course, but practicing such can also lead to a greater disposition towards holiness as well.

  84. LisaP. says:

    Supertradmum, yes, we’ll certainly have to do so! :)

  85. Elizabeth M says:

    I have shared several of your articles on FB, but none so far have received the comments on my page as this one! Father Z is right. As a mother of 2 boys I constantly have in mind that my job is to train them to be men. It has helped me regain my true femininity.

  86. Banjo pickin girl says:

    LisaP, I am an oblate of OSB and feel some of the interpretations of the Holy Rule here are rather extreme, especially for lay people. There are reasons for the Rule being written as is but it was written for cloistered religious. So keep laughing and showing your teeth.

  87. lmo1968 says:

    Let’s be careful not to confuse virtue with what I call “holy card holiness”. Where the Blessed Virgin Mary is a sort of Jewish Grace Kelly and if you don’t fit that type, then you are not a woman of virtue. One person can model perfectly the virtues described by the rule of St. Benedict and have a heart completely given over to sin. One can wear a cassock and be a consumer of pornography. One can be a cloistered Carmelite and appear to be the summit of piety and goodness — and still kill a sister in her heart over something as petty as chores. We can’t judge based on exteriors because we don’t know the totality of that person we are looking at — including those we hold up as examples to model.

    From the 2nd reading of last Sunday’s Mass:

    At present I know partially;
    then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
    So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
    but the greatest of these is love.

  88. LisaP. says:

    Banjo pickin girl,
    Thanks, that’s a pick me up!

  89. lmo1968 says:

    Something else that occurred to me just now:

    How unladylike do you suppose Bernadette Soubirous appeared to those watching when she kissed the ground at Lourdes, ate the mud and grass, and clawed at the ground like a pig at the direction of the Blessed Mother? Yet after this horrifying display, the muddy waters of the spring became clear and Lourdes is a place of miracles that persist to this day.

    Just a thought.

  90. maryh says:

    Father Z said, “One of the trends in the entertainment industry – which probably dovetails with big-business abortion – is that female characters are turning into more efficient and extravagant killers than many of the male characters.”

    I have noticed that too. And I’ve noticed something else – these women who are such great killers don’t show anything resembling the kind of physique a woman who fought like that would actually have. With one exception that I can think of (Zoey from Firefly), they are very slender and don’t appear to have any muscles to speak of (yes, I know women don’t tend to get muscles as big as men’s, but they still show). They tend to practice what I call “magical” fighting. This is often some kind of eastern-martial-art-looking thing that transforms a small, painfully thin woman who looks like a breeze would knock her over into an unbeatable force.

    This is in contrast to the way fighting women tended to be portrayed earlier (in the 80’s maybe?). Sigourney Weaver in Alien had muscles, and there was a female marine who looked more than capable of taking on any of the men in a one-on-one fight – without “magical” fighting. Jodie Foster in the first “Silence of the Lambs” seemed realistic to me as well.

    I guess trying some attempt at a realistic portrayal of what a fighting woman would actually look like wasn’t doing too well at the box office, so they’ve gone over to the anorexic super killers.

  91. HeatherH. says:

    As a catholic high-schooler, this post seems directed at my age group, so I think it proper to respond. I attend a catholic high school, and, I guess I could say that the girls are pretty ladylike (in general) and the guys tend to be gentlemen, so we don’t have too much of a problem there. As was stated in a number of the above posts, there aren’t a specific set of things that you do to become “ladylike.” Of course, you don’t chew with your mouth open, or anything gross like that, but there are numerous variations. Diversity and complementarity – the wonder of organic communion. As far as this goes, I will only make a few points:

    Skirts vs pants
    I will confess that I do wear a skirt most of the time, but it is part of my uniform. However, there are pants in the uniform , that I could wear. My reason for wearing a skirt? I go to mass 4/5 days a week at school most weeks, and I do not intend to show up in front of Jesus wearing pants… when wearing a skirt is appropriate, I wear one. But I am also a cross country runner, and I’m not about to go out for a 5 mile run in a skirt. I’m not making myself a man, I’m doing something I love to do, and giving glory to God through it. Some of the most ladylike girls I’ve seen have been with me at the end of races, helping me to walk even though they themselves were tired. Briefly, in the modern world, modesty is what’s necessary, not wearing skirts. Maybe it is more feminine to wear a skirt, but would the fashion of Jesus’ time or even the middle ages be right to wear now? Probably not. So, wear a skirt to mass, and around if you want to, but don’t think that it’s a sin to not wear a skirt because you’re not being feminine enough.

    I despise swearing
    It is completely unladylike. No doubt there. But the argument above is more what counts as swearing. My code is that I never even abbreviate swear words, and encourage my friends to do the same. If you’re not going to say the whole thing, you might as well not think it either, or let other people think it.

    Sed non timete!
    But, I want to add one last word. Chivalry and ladylikeness are not dead, though maybe they are not seen. I know by some of the above standards I would not be considered a lady- I hold doors, play sports, and sometimes laugh and talk loudly. but not it a bad way. and I try to act like a lady. Ladylikeness is an interior disposition, that can be manifest in a variety of ways, all challenging guys to be chivalrous. So don’t just write off all high school girls who wear pants, and are able to talk and laugh loudly, we do try.

  92. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Lisa P.,

    thank you for your friendly answer (I somewhat feared to be torn into pieces, metaphorically speaking, for my lax attitude)… but of course that much is clear: When we say “O my God”, we certainly do not pray at the height of devotion… and people need not be practicing Christians to so so (though, coming to think of it, those who have at least some faith are more of them).

    My conscience-examination contains the question “Did I use the name of God thoughtlessly, or as an expletive [lit. force-term]”, so the thing is that basically because an “oh my God” (which of course does, at first, mean “it surprised me”, linking this to the Godhead in an, I think, not necessarily abusive way) contains so little “force” here, we do not even think of it. Priests might admonish people not to use “Kruzifix!” (“I do not think you should use as a means of mere ranting that Our Lord died painfully on the Cross”, most accept that…), but I have never ever heard an admonition about these other things we do not perceive as curses.

    The priest was a Polish (means here, Continental European, Latin American, or French Canadian) immigrant? Then that does not surprise me at all.

    By the way and back to topic, I’m quite looking forward to see the Queen of Heaven and Earth laughing with her teeth showing, when by God’s grace I shall meet her in Heaven one day.