She Said: No to Being a Lady

Sarah Irby, Editor in Chief~

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone tells me I’m not being ladylike. The term leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, just the same as when someone uses the phrase “like a girl” with an implied negative connotation. What does that even mean?

When I swear, I’m not being ladylike. I drink hard liquor instead of fruity drinks, so I’m not acting ladylike. I wear crop tops and Chucks instead of dresses and high heels, so I’m not being ladylike. I call you out on your bullsh*t instead of holding my tongue, so I’m not acting ladylike.

If being ladylike means conforming to society’s expectations of how I should act purely because I’m a female, then I want no part of it. I’ll proudly tell you I’m not a lady, but I am still a woman.

Why is this term even still around in 2017? It existed in the past purely to train women to be the kind of “lady” a man would want as his wife. Uh, sorry guy, but evenif we were still living in the

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Illustration by Genevieve Griffin.

Victorian age, I wouldn’t be wearing corsets and dresses so tight that I couldn’t breathe, just to please your eyes.

I’d rather run wild and live my life in a way that makes me, not someone else, happy. My inspirations are the likes of Michonne and Arya Stark, not women like Jackie Burkhart or Regina George. I’m not into the suppression of women, and you shouldn’t be either.

So many women still think that they don’t have a voice or that they have to break their backs to please a man. But hear me loud and clear: Your existence does not revolve around men, and your worth is not defined by their opinion of you. Please understand that, and stop telling yourself you’re nothing if you don’t have a man to show you off.

I’m calling the term “ladylike” what it is: sexist. It’s just one of those words that our society should have no use for nowadays. And yet it remains. Mothers are still teaching their daughters how to be ladylike so that they will be desirable to men someday. (Am I the only one concerned that we’re teaching girls how to please males at such a young age? It seems a bit pedophilic. But that’s beside the point.)

The point is every human being on this planet should be allowed to blossom into their own person, without biased limitations set forth by society. Whenever my mom tells me something I said or did “isn’t very ladylike,” I give her the evil eye. Sorry, Mom. It may not be ladylike, but it is me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you type the word “ladylike” into Google, the definition given is: Adjective, appropriate for or typical of a well-bred, decorous woman or girl. Used in a sentence, the example given is “It wasn’t ladylike to be too interested in men.” So, I’m supposed to be ladylike to catch a man, but I can’t be too interested in them. Okay. I’m only slightly appalled.

Kick the term and the expectations it carries to the curb. You don’t need to fit the “lady” mold. And if a man does expect you to be ladylike, then you best believe he better be a gentleman (which the dictionary defines as a chivalrous, courteous or honorable man). But really, let’s not make things complicated. Let’s just be ourselves, and learn to love one another for who we are.