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March 8, 2010

Shakesville on Dear Abby

Relevant quote:
“No, not unless he wanted to get into a spitting contest with a viper. You say your friend was raised to open doors for ladies. Well, it appears he opened a door for a woman who wasn’t one. Please tell him not to give up because anyone with manners would have said thank you and appreciated the gesture. I know I would have.”

This is, actually, one of the reasons why I don’t want to be called a lady. Being a lady has, in my life, too often been associated with people insisting on how my life should be. My older relatives called me a lady as a way to stop me from rough-and-tumble play with my brothers. Coworkers at past jobs have called me a lady while doing things for me, regardless of whether I could do them myself or not. Friends called me a lady when they try to convince me that I’m interested in feminine things (not so much recently, which I am thankful). And I have yet to find a way to decline the term that doesn’t invite an argument. I’m a crazy feminist bitch, irrational and looking for things to protest, when I ask people politely not to call me a lady. I am not, apparently, allowed to define myself, and to deny a term that for me has huge negative connotations. I know that for some people it’s a good term. It means a certain degree of politeness, femininity, good manners, and respect. But firstly, I’m pretty damn often not polite, and secondly, that’s not what it means to me. In my life it’s been a term of limit, too often applied the way Dear Abby used it. Yeah, I’m not a lady. I don’t want you to open the door for me. I don’t want you to lift things for me. And most of all, when you do these things, if I respect you and know you then I’m probably going to tell you why I don’t want you to. So yeah, Dear Abby would probably label me as a bitch, not a lady. I’m quite happy with those labels.

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