someone stole my ‘lady’

When I was growing up, and I admit this was decades ago, adult females in my sheltered world were referred to as ladies.  I knew with a certainty that if I ate my greens, spoke politely, didn’t behave in an unseemly manner, kept away from hard drink (in quantity) and kept up moral and ethic standards, I would grow up to be a lady.

 Sometimes, before we were grown, middle-aged men (well my father’s age! And elderly gentlemen of the family’s acquaintance) would. as a small joke, tip their hats, if they passed us in the street, and greet us with a ‘Good morning ladies’, which would throw us into a state of acute embarrassment and giggles.  To be a lady was our lot and I, for one, rather looked forward to it.

 Then in the 60s Women’s Lib came along and destroyed my elegant dreams! Over night, it seemed, lady became a ‘class’ thing – an anachronism – something to be despised as a barrier to equality for all. An insult to sisterhood. I was now a ‘woman’ – well of course I knew that! but the word police had stolen my ‘lady’ and, to add insult to injury, I was supposed to lug my own suitcases around because I was as good as any man! Not in the luggage department I wasn’t.

 Why do these word police feel the need to steal so much of our language? Why do they so easily take offence? Why do they not see the wider picture?  Lady and Gentlemen as terms, by then, was more a standard of behaviour than a class thing.  It was an indication of a lifestyle.  Now many declared that they were ladies and gentlemen who weren’t, but mostly it was  an indication that the person referred to as such would be honest, trustworthy, upright and decent.  The terms have become debased over the years because of the scorn poured upon these values.

 Now my editing software tells me that the use of the word ‘lady’ in my writing, (despite the fact that I have carefully placed the word for its meaning, and in its context cannot mean anything else) may be insulting to some (to whom is it insulting I wonder?) and I must use ‘woman’.

  Well I wont, so there!

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11 thoughts on “someone stole my ‘lady’

  1. Kathy says:

    I should explain out that the Southern side of the Texas isn’t the same as South Texas. It’s more like the eastern half of the state, or it was when I was younger.

  2. Kathy says:

    I miss “lady,” too. And calling older ladies “Miss”:–Miss Blanche, Miss Ethel, Miss Mae–no matter what their marital status. A Southern thing, I guess, on the Southern side of Texas.

    • alberta says:

      ah Miss Blanche that reminds me of To Kill A Mockingbird and Huck Finn, Gone with the Wind – my childhood in fact:)
      Miss as a title is another one I have probs. with – the feminists got hold of that one as well!!! (will prob post on it)

  3. A.D. Duling says:

    Alberta,
    This was a wonderful share, it does seem we have lost the value of Lady and Gentleman. I would rather someone open the door for me or help me with my lugage, than to give insult to the offer or to myself and say “I can do it myself!”
    Gentlemen and ladies have dwindled and maybe it’s because we have all forgotten we are just that. It’s not old fashioned, its respectable.

    Keep the lady and Mr. PC is just going to have to get over it.

    A.D.

  4. Being also of your era (I think) I came to avoid the word. Even now I find myself pre-editing conversations regarding “ladies”, even going to the lengths of substituting “you guys” for the forbidden word. YOur blog so struck me that I shared it on Facebook so others can think about it.
    Thanks much!

    • alberta says:

      I think we have let the word police intimidate us all – Whereas i can see that abuse and insult should be contained to some extent – I do feel offense is sometimes imagined – I do find that one of the advantages of growing older is that one cares less and less what other’s think of you!:) thanks for the share – maybe we can start a movement!!:)

  5. Julie Glover says:

    How can “lady” be offensive? How odd! Living in Texas, I can honestly say that being called a lady is still a-okay around here. I’m personally okay with all of it — lady, woman, chick, broad. Take your pick.

    • alberta says:

      well I did wonder? it is prob. some PC thing – ugh! – have no objections to any of the terms you mentioned or words such as love, duck, pet etc – leave the wonderful language alone I say:)

  6. shanjeniah says:

    I never thought of myself as a lady….

    Until just now, when I read your description.

    I wouldn’t change it, either!

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