Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Art of Being a Lady


My husband and I found a website a few months ago called The Art of Manliness, AoM, Reviving the lost art of manliness.    They have articles such as:

Blacksmithing Basics - How to make a hook
A Resolution Romance - The 52 Lovenotes Challenge
Willpower Part 1:  The Force of Greatness
How to shave like your Grandpa
Bringing Back the Hat

And those are just a few.  I have utterly enjoyed reading this site and it would be an understatement to say that my husband merely "enjoys" it too.  It's a site where men can revel in some "traditional" erstwhile manly pursuits.  Do you think this is sexist on their part?

The reason I ask this is because my husband and I were talking about this and I mentioned that a woman could probably NEVER get away with an Art of Womanliness website.  She'd be accused of setting women's rights back a hundred or more years!    Sometimes, as women, we're uber sensitive to anything that pigeonholes us into what we view as archaic gender roles.

But are we cheating ourselves?  What would we consider "reveling" in being a woman?  Is it any more wrong or misguided for a woman to want to learn the basics of setting a table than it is for a man to want to learn how to shovel snow?  Does it make him sexist because he WANTS to do those things for the people he loves?  Are we trying too hard to be androgynous when it comes to gender roles?  Or perhaps that's the issue, these pursuits aren't "roles" because a role is something placed upon you.   Maybe WANTING to excel, or at least master, traditional feminine pursuits is just embracing the difference between the two sexes.

Because I want to know the correct way to iron, or take up knitting, or take pleasure in decorating my home doesn't mean that I think that it wouldn't be helpful for my own sons to know these things.  It just means that I'm looking for that place where I truly revel in being, not just a woman, but a lady.

Listen, I love that the iconic history of my gender includes Betty Boop AND Rosie the Riveter! I'm not interested in should-ing all over anybody.  But I've got to be honest.  I'm a bit envious when I read AoM.  In a world where women are shrinking to almost invisibility to fit into an industry's standard, it would be a JOY to  escape to a place where my swelling hips are lauded, not laughed at.  Where Mother Theresa is a more vital life coach than Kris Jenner (Kardashian).   And especially where, as we age, we have a greater voice not a weaker one.

You'll be seeing my blog take a turn toward The Art of Being a Lady.  For me, that includes everything from the domestic arts to wise financial investments.  And Sisters, I absolutely WELCOME your input!  I'm not just being polite.  I SERIOUSLY want your input.  I'm going through my head thinking of blogger friends who are truly gifted in various areas.  Right off the top of my head, I'm thinking of Patti with her specialty in counseling, and tenderness she brings to blogging.  Terri, a voracious reader (and educator) who can help me put together a female focused personal library.  Shey, a brilliant seamstress who takes the simplest items and makes the FABULOUS!  Paula, an artistic soul who has so much to say on bringing color to our lives.  Pam, a prolific writer and interviewer who has a passion for revitalizing women who may have lost their life's zest.  Vanessa, another amazing writer who proves daily that gorgeousness isn't pigeonholed into one size; and curves deserve color too!  Jessica, who is decorating her home BEAUTIFULLY on a meager budget through (what she has turned into) the "science" of thrifting!  And I could seriously go on and on.  So many of you are so incredibly inspirational that I can't possibly narrow it down to a finite blog post!

Oh my gosh!  My mind is racing and my heart is pounding!!!  That means I'm on the right track and hitting on something that impassions me!   I'm still going to be doing outfits because, frankly, I think more "thrifty" outfits would provide balance to the plethora of high dollar outfit  posts saturating fashion blogging.  But this direction is something that I've toyed with for a while and I'm taking the plunge!

What does "lady like" mean to you?




  1. I totally get what your saying and I love this idea! You should do it!

    I think the AoM more or less re-establishes certain skills and mannerisms, such as wearing a hat, like in the good old days, and other old school stuff that have disappeared from our society as we progressed toward the Millenium and sometimes reluctantly have embraced the fast-pacedness and technological gadgets as a means of making sure we stay employable and in step with progress.
    However, along the way we have lost sight of the simple things that matter most and that is where the traditional "roles" come into play.
    I for one miss that-not that I lived back then lol, but, I've always said that I am "traditiionally untraditional" meaning that "anything a man can do, I can do better". Hence, Rosie the Riveter". But that doesnt mean we should lose sight of accepted "feminine" roles.

    And I'm sorry but, as long as women continue to give birth, we will always be defined as taking on a more traditional feminine role. I am PROUD of that role. My husband and I are both nostalgic for when "men were men and women were women" but at the same time, we have progressed enough in society where men know that a womans only role is not meant to be tethered to the kitchen table with kids at her hip. They know that women can make just as much as if not more of a contribution to society as they do, but yet we can do it while wearing high heels! :D

    I could go on and on, but I'll stop with that. I look forward to seeing where you go with this idea of yours and if you need help, let me know.

  2. My personal definition for "a lady" is a woman of strength and dignity...she is a multi-tasker...taking care of family, business, and community all at the same time..she speaks with wisdom and power, yet in an educated manner (no shouting or foul language)...her smile and encouragment is honey to the souls of those around her; her discernment keeps her in balance...she is comfortable hosting a tea or camping with her sons...she does not whine but seeks solutions to challenges. I think you would do well with such a site, but unfortunately, you will encounter controversy!! I would love to help you if you need it!

  3. Before I forget--I really like that drawing!

    thanks for the shout out too.

    I think this is a really intriguing idea, Serene! I think we have both been searching for more meaning in our blogs; and this would certainly fit the bill. It could be very creative with old photos--like Rosie--if you wanted.

    Go for it Gf! Im sure you can give a fresh look to some old school ideas worth saving!

  4. This is an interesting topic. Being a lady today is far different than ever before. So few women are ladies today. There are a lot of crass people, men and women, out there now days. Just think of Britney Spears wearing no undies and getting out of the car with legs wide open. Not lady-like for sure.

  5. Serene, first, thanks for the shout out. I appreciate it. I know that one thing I appreciate about my husband is his stubborn manliness (the days he goes unshaven, the hammer smashed thumbs, and all the many things he does for me without asking). When I started Rags, it felt very brave of me to focus on something like appearance after too many years of being all business--teaching and being a single mother before that. If the truth were known, there are many traditionally feminine skills that I lack. I lap up stuff like Heloise' Household Hints, but just as you say I feel conflicted about talking about it. Frankly though, "lady" is a meaningless term to me though I know what you are driving at. Look forward to this new emphasis.

  6. I really love this idea Serene. I also want to embrace the fact that I am a woman and aim to be a lady. For me a lady is a woman who handles her life and the situations in it with grace. She is honest without being crass, confident without making other people feel inferior, kind without allowing people to walk all over her... She sets limits and has boundaries and doesn't allow others to make her feel less. She has dignity, wisdom, humor and perhaps an air of mystery as well...:) So much more! I can't wait to read what you have to say on the matter my friend!

  7. The more I "know" you, the more I love you girlfriend! Think of all the years we've wasted over the years!

    Oh well, we only have today, and today I am thankful to call you a friend. Love your take on this & can't wait to share it with my husband! Happy New Year!

  8. You raise many good points about gender rolds here especially as to why women can't be lauded for everything about their womanhood and why we can't have more female role models that shine for what they have achieved rather than what they look like. I find the concept of the "lady" a double edged sword though - especially working in a male dominated profession - as a career woman it's questionable whether being a lady helps or hinders. Have you seen Terri's latest post discussing a Susan Sontag article about women's anxiety over aging? It's a very enlightening read but after reading it I can't help but felt cheated that I wasn't born a man.

  9. Happy New Year Serene, thoughful post, I look forward to the new direction your blog will take. It's so very true if there was a site like that for women, i don't think it would be very well recieved.

    ladylike means acting the exact opposite of what's seen on reality t.v. (example Jersey Shore, ugh). I think that pretty much sums it up. lol.

  10. There is a total stereotype as far as what it means to be lady-like, but I really think that being lady-like is whatever you make it.
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  11. I totally agree with you Serene...I do wished we as a society would put more emphasis on dressing ourselves.:)

    *Thank you for the shout outs and the kind words, you're the best!*

    Love and miss ya!

  12. What does it mean to be a lady... one word... confidence.

    I have learned over the years that there are so many different 'roles' for women and all of them are valuable. Myself, I am a single career woman. Happy. Complete. My best friend from college is a full-time mother and loves it. Happy. Complete. My boss balances both pursuits with skill. Happy. Complete. All, dare I say, are ladies in every sense of the word.

    On a lighter (far less important) note, I think a woman's apperance sheds light on her "ladyhood", too. I don't mean you must wear dresses, skirts or anything every day to be a lady but I think you should 'present' yourself to the world with some measure of 'neatness' each day. I wonder how many I offended with that?


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  14. Actually I was discussing this very same thing with my own husband just last night. When he showed me the Art of Manliness, I fell in love with the quintessential values it represents. In my view, there's nothing sexist nor derogatory about wanting to be a healthy, well adjusted person who knows themselves well and only intends to improve upon themselves. Nowhere on that site have I seen anything that would denote treating a woman as anything less than a man would treat a man. It's just a matter of manners, and how a man wants to present himself and it's really heavily based on creating and supporting a healthy self esteem. I think it's WONDERFUL.

    As for myself? I REALLY want a similar site for women. I really really do. Why? Because there are times when, for example, a woman needs the help in finding the self confidence to do things a certain way. I happen to run the local arts market in the little town we live in. Quite frankly, even that proves itself to be a challenge in a tiny town full of heavily influenced drug addicted rednecks. My problem is learning how to HANDLE these kinds of people, how to behave towards them without letting go of who I am and how I grew up. I didn't grow up here and where I'm originally from, we have very bohemian, tropical standards that put family first, education first, and everything else second or third. Basically, it's a pyramid of expectations and morals. It's not perfect by any means, but it's at least there for reference.

    The Art of Manliness has plenty of articles for how men should handle situations and how men can present themselves in a way to establish strength and dominance without being brutes or crude. I do wish a website existed were a woman like myself, who is used to some sense of decorum and considerations, can weave her way through a very backwards town, while still putting her own foot forward and not always feeling like I walk on eggshells.

    I mention all of this because a long time ago, I recall seeing a few articles during my History courses in college. The articles related to women who owned saloons and brothels in the 1850's, and beyond, who had tenacity and strength of self. Sometimes finding that feeling is very difficult, and having a guide that lets me attempt to become a better and more capable person, while maintaining my femininity would be great.

    Pardon the super long response. I've only gotten 4 hours of sleep and wanted to make sure I got everything I meant to say out properly, so it took a few more words than per usual.

    1. Nina! What a great comment! This could be it's own blog post, actually! I like the "womanly" arts as well. And while I certainly don't think anyone should be confined by them, I don't think anyone should be marginalized either because they enjoy those pursuits.

      For me feminism is about so much more than "equal pay for equal work". It's about embracing who we are as women without HAVING to play a role to define ourselves. As you say, being a "better and more capable person, while maintaining my femininity" is not an unworthy venture.

      It sort of grates on me a bit that The Art of Manliness is embraced, but when we speak of the Art of Being a Lady, there's so much negative connotation to it. But you've really inspired me to delve into this even more!

      I also lived in a small town. So I know the challenges it can bring. About a year ago we moved to a MUCH larger city and it brings with it it's own challenges. If you ever want to "chat" feel free to shoot me an email at!


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! ~Serene