You could have been a lady

Lady. While there are women out there who are relatively ambivalent about the label, I am not one of them. Aside from innocent introductions at entertainment events and the likes: ‘ladies and gentlemen…I give you…’. Or if I am bursting for a piss, then I am never more happy to see the word ‘ladies’ attached to a door.

If I myself was, or lived amongst the world of landed gentry, or the spectacularly, revoltingly, over entitled modern lords and ladies (Michelle Mone immediately springs to mind as a great example), then the use of the word Lady might be appropriate, if nauseating. Howver, I am staunchly republican and would not bow to the Queen, nor accept any knighthoods for services to blogging, or general humanity…ha!

In my world, or at least the world of work, I find the use of the word ‘lady’ when used to describe me, or other women patronizing and/or slimy. Because it generally is, when used by older men, or senior. Amongst elderly ones who mean no harm it’s fine, and it’s generally the same with older folk in the family, as long as they’re not perverts. You know those slightly gropey relatives…urgh.

It’s the connotations of the word. If you look at dictionary definitions of the word lady, then some are about politeness and convention but the rest of the definitions, in terms of the context of their usage, are a judgement of women on their class, behaviour and social acceptability. For example: a lady of good social position, of genteel disposition and good manners. Who in mixed company, will always defer to the gentleman. So while I think I am generally a decent, non-arsehole type of person with reasonable manners, the rest can get to fuck…

This came up for me today for two reasons. Firstly, because today at the gym, a new woman turned up to check it out. When the coach turned to introduce her to the workout, which is differently scaled for gender, he said, with a nod to me, ‘for women, blah blah’, then for the gents etc. To be fair, he does use the combined ‘ladies and gents’ terminology, cos that’s how he speaks, but I am finally getting there in terms of training him up to use woman instead, so this made me smile. I certainly don’t feel like a lady when I’m grunting over shifting weights across my back, nor do I want do.

The main definition of the word that I have a problem with, is the deferment to the gentlemen. Sorry, not on principle. In a case of disagreement, I would defer to the opinion based on intelligent reasoning, interspersed with compassion and human understanding. Either a man or woman could put forward such an argument.

So, as many who know me know, I’m not a girl (after the age of 21 – forget it people, she’s an adult!), or a lady of any description. I am a woman. But I was amused by this new list of the 39 things that make a lady for 2015 from Countryfile Magazine. Obviously, you need to consider the middle class nature of the source and the fact that it is tongue in cheek.

At first reading it, I thought, yeah, this is actually okay, just really about general niceness and good manners, except for the roast potatoes – I mean who cares? A woman puts on a meal that people come together and enjoy – who gives a shit if the roast tatties came from the Co-op freezer?

I’ve put the list below, unadorned. It’s not that bad until around 15, with the phrase ‘ but allows men the privilege’. Eh, why? Why can’t they share the gutting of the innards of pheasants if that’s their thing? Then they go on about gracefully deflecting a lecher. A mutual attraction is different, but if a senior colleague makes unwanted advances, let’s hope grace includes telling them you’ll be making a formal complaint if they try it on you, or anyone else again. Sorry sleaze ball.

Number 23 – knows when to let a man think it’s his idea. Sorry folks, but enough is enough. I get that for centuries women have got things changed and done using this approach, at the same time with very little of the credit. Isn’t it fair that men should now accept that sometimes women have the good ideas, just as much as they do? I think most of the men I know (at least those who are not idiots) would agree with that. Sadly there are sometimes unscrupulous ones who would pass our ideas as their own. Just because they can get away with it, when their seniority demands our compliance.

Towards the end, it becomes more silly, e.g. handle a ski lift. Pourquoi? And number 37: brevity in lingerie. I’ll bet that’s not the case for the majority of women my age, ladies or not. We like big pants and we cannot lie.

Finally, with number 38, I wasn’t sure if that meant you should kiss men to make them feel like princes, rather than because you wanted to. Again, subservient to the male = not good. Again, mutually agreed kissing for the purposes of making everyone feel happy = a good thing.

Obviously, if you want to call yourself a lady and gracefully do what your man tells you, then knock yourself out. Not I, lady be darned. I’ll aim for good woman and leave it at that.

Until next time,


According to Countryfile, a lady . . .

1 Finds laughter is the best medicine

2 Can say ‘thank you’ no matter where she is in the world

3 Cooks perfect, crispy roast potatoes

4 Offers to split the bill

5 Knows that everyone, including herself, improves with age

6 Offers the builder a cup of tea

7 Excels at making love, lasagne and long gin and tonics

8 Can silence a man with a stare and make a dog lie down with a hand signal—and vice versa

9 Can imitate Piglet and Pooh voices for a bedtime story

10 Prefers Mr Knightley to Mr Wickham, but is secretly in love with Rupert Campbell-Black

11 Never downs a drink in one, unless it’s a shot of tequila

12 Is aware that the school run and dog walking do not require full make-up

13 Never wears shoes she can’t walk in

14 Knows when a man is spoken for

15 Can paunch a rabbit, pluck a pheasant and gut a fish, but allows men the privilege

16 Remembers her godchildren’s birthdays

17 Knows songs for a long car journey

18 Is neither early for a dinner party nor late for church

19 Doesn’t over-pluck her eyebrows

20 Knows how to deflect a lecher with grace, and a proposal with kindness

21 Comforts nervous flyers

22 Would never have Botox

23 Knows when to let a man think it’s his idea

24 Would never own a handbag dog

25 Can tie—and untie—a bow tie

26 Might not understand the rules of rugby and cricket, but enjoys the game anyway

27 Knows when to take control in the bedroom and the boardroom

28 Knows the difference between Bentley & Skinner and Baddiel and Skinner

29 Instills manners in her children, but lets their characters flourish

30 Knows when to deadhead a rose

31 Is never afraid to overdress

32 Can handle a sports car, a sit-on mower and a ski lift

33 Knows when to stop dyeing her hair

34 Teaches her son to iron his shirts and her daughter to change a fuse

35 Owns a little black dress

36 Always has a hanky

37 Knows that ‘brevity is the soul of lingerie’

38 Has kissed several frogs and made them feel like princes

39 However lucky in life, she doesn’t boast on Facebook


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