DISCUSSION – Gendering Class, Part IV – “Ladylike” and policing femininity

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It’s been a while since we have look at the gendering of class. Something that occurred to me recently was how in many stories women had of being gender-policed as girls that policing was framed in terms of “ladylike” behavior. Were you prevented form climbing trees or wearing certain types clothing of clothing because they weren’t ladylike, or did you hear girls who did act ladylike praised for being so feminine?

First point of discussion: Women, please tell us your stories of being expected to behave like ladies, regardless of your social class.

It seems a natural consequence of framing proper feminine behavior as ladylike that it will contrast male behavior as being crude, brutish, lustful, stupid – all the derogatory stereotypes people through the ages have aimed at low-status people.

So this would position women as the natural authorities on manners, matters of esthetic judgment such as clothing and design in the home, the arts and similar refinements.

Second point of discussion: What examples of this dynamic have you seen ? And since this is going to apply across the gender spectrum, anyone regardless of gender will have something to offer.

Another corollary of this is that the less a woman presents as a upper class, a lady, the more people are going to degender her – the less she is going to benefit from displays of chivalry, the less female sentencing discount she is going to get, the less the “Women Are Wonderful” effect is going to apply to her. And the lower she ranks socially, the likelier she is to come in for derogatory appraisals of her femininity. Slut-shaming seems to disproportionately be a female-on-female form of gender norming, and it seems to be directed at low-status women disproportionately. 

Third discussion point: Have you seen or experienced examples of this dynamic? it’s obvious how it reinforces class hierarchy, but note also how it is a form of gender norming.

Finally, if you think of any other aspects of this I haven’t, I’d be glad to talk about those too.

 

 

 

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Jim Doyle

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="4530 http://www.genderratic.com/?p=4530">13 comments</span>

  • oh, and I feel extra good when an empowered womyn with a strap on penetrates my mangina…

    I pay for the best, only Ivy League straponistas for moi…

    and, it’s extra kinky if zie farts in my face and burps after drinking chardonnay…

  • Bonjour, Monsieur F*cktrelle! We hardly missed you!

    Does the real Fraudtrelle ever even check? I suppose the follow-up question is: does he even care about his own integrity at least? I would be tempted by the stray sheep of hope that he has at least a small amount of self-preservation id shouting at his pyramid-without-end ego. The commentariat of psycho-mobtown can’t be that inflating, can it?

    Also, I hate to break it to you, but Ivy-League fashionistas really want guys like you to suck their actual boyfriends cocks whole they sit and jill off, preferably after you’ve paid for their food then sat quietly and obediently outside. You get the strapon once a month if you’ve been good…

  • oh hai robbie…

    so that’s why Mandy keeps on telling me Hugo has a cream filled twinkie with my name on it…

    and if i’ve been a good male feminist and make at least 50 low status men kill themselves, then I get the strap-on…

    So far I’m at 48…

  • Interesting points of discussion Ginkgo. Something I thought of as I finished your article is that this may also be a way of counterbalancing female hypergamy by making lower socieconomic status females less desireable for higher status males. The more ladylike a woman is, the higher her status, the more attractive to a higher status male, thus the slut shaming of lower status women by higher status women in order to reduce competition for higher status men. It would also be more important for higher status women to teach their daughters to be more ladylike than it is for lower status women in order to maintain a higher status f=position for her family. This would also help to explain why it is traditionally more difficult to move between socioeconomic classes, but easier for women than men because of the difference in the way status is conferred. Acting ladylike helps a woman attract a higher status male, but acting gentlemanly does not have the same benefit for men (at least not to the same degree).

  • One thing that occurred to be about being “ladylike” that plays to the active-passive thing. A woman can act like a lady, and she can be treated like a lady. A man can act like a gentleman, but there’s no such thing as being treated like a gentleman. So women can be either active or passive, but men can only be active. I think that’s interesting.

  • TDOM,
    “The more ladylike a woman is, the higher her status, the more attractive to a higher status male, thus the slut shaming of lower status women by higher status women in order to reduce competition for higher status men. ”

    Yes, and this explains the emphasis on daintiness and fragility – it makes them eligible for the provision and protection a child is entitled to. that’s why it’s important to portray low-status women as Amazons or Sapphires.

    that explains something for me; thanks.

    Patrick! You’re back!

    “One thing that occurred to be about being “ladylike” that plays to the active-passive thing. A woman can act like a lady, and she can be treated like a lady. A man can act like a gentleman, but there’s no such thing as being treated like a gentleman. ”

    This is true too. I have never ever heard of treating anyone like a gentleman.

    “So women can be either active or passive, but men can only be active. I think that’s interesting.”

    The old “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine too.”

  • Ginko, I have another feminist you can rip to shreds. Or rather, another idealogue who typifies the empathy gap I mentioned to them.

    After listing priveleges males have and detailing what women struggle with, I had this to say in response:

    “Yes, you have struggles and areas in life that aren’t respectful to your basic humanity.

    But in all of this, you realize there is one thing you have that no man on this earth will ever have, and likely never will judging by our long storied history.

    Empathy.

    Let me lay it out for you:

    Every single problem in that list has programs, support groups, and media attention addressing it. Especially in terms of violence against women. I can count beyond my two hands the number of PSAs and coverage violence against your gender receives, not to mention the level of funding bank rolling it from the government.

    Now what does a man like me have in regards to empathy?

    1) Get hit/abused by a woman

    Empathy: “How can you let a woman hit you?”, “HA HA HA, what a wuss!”, “You’re bigger than her, capable of handling such a frail petite little girl like that”.

    2) Get hit/abused by a woman than retaliate in self-defense before it escalates.

    Empathy: “Oh my god, you monster!”, “Never hit a woman!”, “You are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent…” and so on.

    3) Get falsely accused of rape or domestic violence by a vindictive woman with a grudge

    Empathy: “She’s right.”, “You are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent…”, “We don’t want your kind around here.”

    4) Speak out against women slanderously insulting men.

    Empathy: “Oh quit your whining!”, “What about the MENZ!”, “It’s not about YOU! Stop making it so!”, “Check your privilege!”, “Men have all the power. Consider yourself lucky!”

    5) If, as a boy, I am physically bullied and hurt by a girl/group of girls.

    Empathy: See #1

    6) If, as a boy, I am physically bullied and hurt by a girl/group of girls then defend myself physically.

    Empathy: See #2. “NEVER. HIT. A. GIRL!”

    7) I am a boy being left behind in education.

    Empathy: “Only minority boys. White boys fair better.”, “It’s not an issue”, “Stop taking attention away from the girls”.

    8) I am a boy/man getting told my gender is responsible for war, violence and general damage being done to the world then express my hurt.

    Empathy: Well, see #6 with an additional “It’s only fair. Now you know how it feels after girls and women were oppressed for thousands of years!”

    Get the idea?

    You talk about male privilege but don’t even bother to delve deeper and see that men are in the same boat with items on your list in a different way.

    With the ultimate difference being: Empathy Apartheid.

    Now you’re a feminist, right? Why is it that the movement, when faced with the severe level of empathy dolled out towards your gender compared to the expired scraps dumped from the garbage bin to men, didn’t address this? And when those who did, why did the movement write them out of existence?

    Answer that. Because from my end, you lack basic awareness of how much empathy and support you’re given compared to someone like me regarding your problems.

    And when men attempt to address their needs as a collective, they get misinterpreted and labeled sexist. Some even have their careers threatened and reputations slandered.

    Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?

    And you know what’s worse: This empathy gap is never going away any time soon. Because it’s a part of mankind. Men and women are more empathetic to women. Period.

    And the feminist movement, or at least some segment of it, used this empathy gap for their selfish gain with not a single protest from others.

    I know this sounds harsh but if you step into my shoes for a just a brief minute, you’d understand just how much this slap in the face, this empathy gap, makes me so depressed to the point of suicidal thoughts if I spare more than my burdened train of thought can muster.

    Yet here I am in the world, putting on my sunday best, pulling up my bootstraps and being a model citizen. Just like many tell me. “Hey, just count your blessings. Find a hobby, an interest, get involved.” Just another way of telling me to be another mindless drone. Even my current psychiatrist recommended we focus less on what has happened to me in the past and on the present. “Don’t dwell on it too much.”

    See what I mean? You get the programs, the support, the media backing, the mucho denaro, a nice little Department for Women and Girls in The White House.

    What do I get? A mask to wear, just my size, for the betterment of the community.

    That’s all.

    There’s my opinion. Take it for what it is.”

    And this is the idealogue’s response.

    “First of all, as far as empathy is concerned, I mentioned several times in most of my comments in this thread that I believe it is horrific and cruel that men anywhere have to undergo circumcision. I am the sort of feminist that believes there is a place in feminism that addresses men’s rights, but as a whole, I am a feminist because I am interested in addressing the ways in which women specifically are disenfranchised in the society we live in.

    I was asked to provide a list of ways I and many feminists believe men are privileged. Your comment is so full of hostility that in all honestly it makes it difficult to take seriously. You seem to be operating under the impression that I have no interest in extending the same empathy I am shown to men, and if that is in fact the case, it is because I was not asked anything that would have required me to discuss those opinions of mine.

    I think men should have as much access to recovery and trauma care as women have, and believe there is no excuse for why such centers don’t exist.

    Also, I know of zero instances in my personal life where a woman falsely accused a man of raping or assaulting her when it in fact did not happen, but I know of several friends of mine, let alone acquaintances who have actually been raped. Has it happened to you/do you know of one man who has been falsely accused of rape? Do you have any idea how much more frequently women are actually raped in proportion to the number of men who have to endure false rape accusations? Or that a very small proportion of men who are raped are actually raped by women? The U.S. Justice Department estimates that false rape accusations occur at a rate of less than 2%. I’m guessing you aren’t a part of that two percent, in which case that instance of disenfranchisement does not apply to you. If you have in fact been falsely accused of rape or sexual assault, then I am genuinely sorry you ever had to deal with that. I think it is wrong that women falsely accuse men of rape because I believe it takes the focus of of women and men who were actually raped.

    Along the same lines, I fully understand and admit that domestic/violent abuse at the hands of a woman against a man is something that happens, and is something that should be put to an end. Are you someone who has endured such violence at the hands of a significant other? I don’t say parent or familial member, since I think girls and boys endure physical abuse at statistically insignificant equal numbers. As wrong as I truly believe it is that anyone endure domestic abuse from their significant other, about 7.4% of men in the U.S. reported being physically assaulted by a partner. On the flip side, about 22% of women have reported being physically abused by a spouse. Yes, men are subject to experience physical violence in large numbers, but they are less likely to be physically hurt than women. That being said, as many as 1 in 5 women report attempted or acts of rape, and as many as 48% of assault cases go unreported. Do you still think women have too many shelters to go to when they feel in danger?

    (Again, I am not saying that men shouldn’t have shelters to go to, but empathy doesn’t seem to be doing much to stop women from getting raped does it?)

    As far as your 4th point is concerned, I hate sexism wherever it appears, and personally, I regularly call out anyone that I feel is unfairly insulting someone based on gender alone, whether they are a man or a woman speaking out against men or women. At the end of the day, I hear more people calling each other bitches, pussies, cunts, and little girls more than anything else as a means of insulting (playfully or no) another person. You have the privilege of not having your entire gender used as a set of common slurs which equate with inherent weakness. Yes, there’s dick, but even I still think that’s wrong and that gendered slurs are bad. As a dude, you probably have no idea what it’s like to hear so many people around you use your own gender as a slur.

    In regards to your 5th and 6th point, WHY IS IT NOT FUCKED UP TO HIT ANYONE AT ALL?? Whenever men point this out, I can’t help but think that they are just pining to nail a woman in the face because that’s a threat they have to deal with, a threat that is imposed BY OTHER MEN. As I mentioned in a previous comment, my boyfriend was an infantryman and a goddamn sniper in the US Army for 4 years, and even he never responded with violence when that’s what he was met with before joining the army and being flung into combat (what he called the most aggressive, testosterone-fueled environment in existence). Why is physical violence necessary, ever, against anyone? I don’t think anyone should be hit, period.

    In regards to your 7th point, what mechanism, exactly, is it that is disadvantaging you at the educational level? Women are receiving 56% of college degrees in the U.S. Do you really think it’s unfair that men are no longer getting the most degrees?? 85%+ of the U.S. Congress is made up of WHITE MALE AMERICANS. Would you dare to tell me that women aren’t being left behind in our COUNTRY’S legislature?? College attendance is the most equal it has ever been.

    For your #8, as a feminist and logical human being, I disregard such overwhelmingly generalized terms, and think that thousands upon thousands of years of warfare ingrained into our very species is what is responsible for so much chaos and war. I personally do not blame it on one gender or the other, so you can count me out of that discussion. Have you personally had to fight in a combat zone? Have you personally had to endure what it’s like to send a loved one or a significant other to war for a year? If you can respond yes to any of that, then my god, I am so sorry you had to endure that, ever. I cohabit with someone who has given years of his life to combat and did nothing but support him in ever way I could while he was overseas. The forces that lead us as a species to go to war against each other are much, MUCH more complex than mere gender, and I will fucking argue that point every time.

    I as a feminist address issues the men in my life (who are willing to open up) face every time I discuss my own issues. You are coming into this discussion accusing me of ignorance, and assuming you have me pegged. You do not understand the first tenet of feminism if you believe it means to be automatically anti-male. I think men should have just as much access to trauma care as women, but at the core of my feminist beliefs, I believe women and men should be regarded as equals and that women are inherently equal not better than men, they just aren’t treated as such in the ways that matter the most economically and socially. You are talking to me as though I have placed women on a pedestal of greatness that men can’t touch, but it is people like you and comments like yours that try to pigeon-hole me into a corner I was standing nowhere near in regards to what I believe. I as a white woman understand fully that I belong to the most privileged race that has ever existed, and yet am able to observe that privilege because I actually want to use it to help advance those whose voices don’t have as much resonance as mine in this society. Unlike you, I am actually willing to and in this discussion have list the ways in which I am privileged as a woman, I just happen to believe that, when it comes to my personal dreams and goals, life would be a bit easier if I was a man.

    You ask me to step in your shoes as if I have never had a profound discussion with the men in my life that I love so much about their struggles, and as if I don’t as the men around me about what makes their life hard. If you are a man who has experienced any one of the issues you have dealt with on a daily basis, then I wish you nothing but the best, and hope beyond hope that you can get the help, or access to the help that I believe you deserve. You wear the mask you accept. I refuse the one I am told to wear every day just so that I can try to reclaim my confidence every day. The literal image of a perfect woman is plastered everywhere for me to study, especially on this website. I volunteered for nonprofits that benefited both abused men and women, and did what I could to ensure that everyone felt welcome no matter what their circumstance. When is the last time you did something tangible to help men, besides write tirades against feminists you claim to know so well?

    Do you blame me for responding so aggressively when I’m met with so much aggression? Jesus.”

    Let’s go through the list of stereotypes they fit:

    1) Claiming they emphasize while throwing bogus statistics in the critic’s face. Aka “I know this is an issue but women have it worse…”

    2) Believing False Rape is not a big deal since they know men who have never been falsely accused of rape. Aka (False Rape Accusations is not a big deal because…well it doesn’t happen in my world)

    3) Blaming men and emphasizing men as the problem. AKA (“It’s done BY MEN!”)

    4) “People shouldn’t be hitting each other”. Yup, always brings this out when there’s still “Boys don’t hit girls” and girls allowed to get away with physically abusing boys.

    5) And the cherry on top: Bragging about what they do in real life, all the good deeds for men and women, as if it absolves them of of their dishonest, ignorant bias. Then snarkily asking what the critic has done in equal measure in their life.

    Gingko, do another feature on this like you did the previous one. But unlike last time, I’m not going to fold. Just take a break and post less often.

  • I’d…rather not.

    It happened on Reddit.com in an r/femradebate forum.

    The reason I won’t supply you the link is that I want to keep the identity I use on there private.

    Second, as much as I want this feminist taken to task, I’d rather the avatar remain private. It’s not so much WHO said it, it’s the IDEAS this person presents.

    Make the posting all about that. The impact will be greater.

  • I’ll supply you the Male Privileges she lists instead.

    “Male privilege is not walking down the street and being singled out and verbally harrassed by different groups of men on a weekly basis.

    Male privilege is not having to explicitly plan out your walk home from class every evening by carrying bear mace or holding your keys in your hand because you’ve been approached by men/people who are 1.5 times your size and demand you ‘sit your purple lips on their nose’. The society you live in doesn’t teach you that your primary value is in the sexual pleasure you are capable of providing to the opposite sex. (With that said, wouldn’t life be easier for dudes if they were as objectified as much as women are in the media? If women were told that men were to be primarily valued for how they look and for their sex, maybe more women would see men as sexy things to do sex on! Unfortunately(?), our society perpetuates the notion that men are to be valued for many things other than their sexuality.)

    Male privilege is failing at something, anything, and not qualifying your entire sex as a failure. Example: girls are bad at math. (Really, I can’t count how many times in my life I’ve heard ‘girls can’t do x’ or ‘only boys can do y’). The society you live in equates logic and academic prowess with masculinity, even though most college graduates are female and those numbers are increasing.

    Male privilege is being able to meet friends for drinks at a bar and not having to preemptively think about how you’re going to peacefully make it to the bathroom when you have to piss without someone trying to stick their hand up your skirt. In the same respect, male privilege is talking to a person without uncomfortably trying to cover your chest as a means of maintaining a person’s attention on what you’re saying. The society you live in doesn’t teach the opposite sex that you are to be treated as something that is another’s right to consume.

    Male privilege is not having the majority of acquaintances you run into on a daily basis ask you if you’re sick because you’re not wearing makeup. Society doesn’t tell you that you’re ugly without it.

    Male privilege is not being interrupted or having your opinions dispelled immediately by your opposite-sex peers because you’re considered biologically ‘illogically inferior’ and ‘professionally incompetent’ (in other words: ‘because what do you know?’). The society you live in does not tell the opposite sex that they inherently know more than you because at some point thousands of years ago they had to fight to fuck a person and they killed animals for food while you merely built homes and raised the next generation.

    Male privilege is actually having male masturbation depicted in media of any kind or referenced in popular media with regularity. How often do you think young girls and women get to see female masturbation or even remotely accurate female desire depicted in popular media? (I’ll give you a hint: never.)

    Male privilege is not having to shave your legs or armpits if you don’t want to and not expecting to be treated as a deficient man. I have very little leg hair and don’t shave. My boyfriend still fucks me harder than ever and even licks my legs while he does it. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked to justify why I don’t shave. How many times a day are you asked about the hair that occurs naturally on your body?

    This is a very rudimentary and possibly sloppy list, but would you like me to go on? I can and will, but it’s late, and I’ve been drinking.”

    Granted, someone requested the list but that’s what started it all.

    Besides, Tamen did a great job fighting back with actual evidence posted. I think Tamen and I would make a great team, me using emotion and Tamen the technical.

  • “This is a very rudimentary and possibly sloppy list,”
    She missed “shallow and downright mendacious, clueless about men’s lives.

    What is it about our gender system that women just assume they know everything about men and our lives?

    That clueless list is a post in itself.

    Anyway, good point about the link. I’ll go with that.

By Jim Doyle

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