Words of Wisdom

“My dear fellow, the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you.”

-Algernon Moncrieff

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4 thoughts on “Words of Wisdom

  1. Just dropping by to explicitly point out how women are judged much more harshly than men when it comes to behavior– especially social and sexual. Unfair, but alas, so is much of life.

    Also want to point out that Algernon is my mentor, role model, and alter-ego.

  2. Yes but, there is a certain point at which we stop negotiating with unfair conventions and say, you know what? I don’t want my daughters to live in this world, and I’m not playing by these stupid rules. Especially now that we have so much less to lose in disregarding social convention.

    Where the line gets drawn depends, of course, on the stakes, duties to others, personal conviction, etc. I think I am figuring out with increasing vehemence where I draw it.

    • As a Model UN nerd, negotiating unfair conventions is my jam. So…

      More seriously, I do understand where you’re coming from. But my approach has always been more of “Abide but stretch, and question.” I’ve generally found that disregarding all the rules doesn’t make them go away. Angry revolt is fine, but not always helpful — casting yourself out of society doesn’t necessarily help your daughters.

      That said, someone has to be the firebrand. And like you said, you do have to draw the line eventually.

      My view and methods are definitely also informed by the fact that, as part of another marginalized group, unfair conventions have always been a fixed feature of my life. And breaking those conventions is objectively a much more dangerous game.

  3. No, it’s true-it’s a fraught question, and not everyone has to be the firebrand-we need consensus builders, and savvy negotiaters. But I don’t honestly have that much to lose–the marriage market doesn’t really have any hold on me, I can support myself, and my acceptance in society is much less fragile than it has been traditionally been for women. I can deal with a few bitchy comments from people I don’t care about, if I get to attack a mindset that leads my friend to ask what I was wearing when I complain about a professor’s advances.

    And I do think refusal to modulate your behavior based on faulty mores does weaken them in the long term. Either way, firebrand is the role I was cast in from a very early age–as long as I can remember have been called unfeminine, brazen, etc for voicing opinions, laughing too loud, talking to boys, racing them on the playground….which is perhaps why I draw the line in a giant red sharpie.

    But yes, the price of disregarding some bs conventions is absolutely too high.

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