Ladies don’t roar. Well-mannered ladies always smile politely. They say thank you and follow that up with a nicely written thank you card. They speak only when spoken to, and they learn that ignoring others is very bad manners indeed. Well-behaved ladies wear clothes that aren’t revealing, sit with their ankles crossed, sip tea, never laugh too loud, especially never laugh at vulgar humor, and keep their friends close but their enemies closer, hiding enmity behind the smile that’s their constant companion.
We aren’t handed a rule book telling us this is the way it is. It’s in the little things that we hear from the time that we’re old enough to decipher meaning in language. Don’t sit like that. Sit like this. Smile. Say thank you. Don’t do this; do that. Girls learn early what is expected at home. Then they go to school and are further made to understand their role. They can raise their hands all they want, but the teachers will favor the boys. They’ll go out on the playgrounds to chants of no girls allowed. They’ll be told that what they wear might distract boys, and instead of teaching boys not to be distracted, they teach the girls to go out of their way to accommodate. We sexualize girls, and then we tell them not to be sexual.
The chant seems to be that we need to be ladies, and ladies do not strongly object. They do not make a scene. Or make waves. They do not use profanity or get tattoos or talk openly about desire. They do not get political or confront a poor behavior. Being polite is valued above being honest, and a lady is defined by who she is to everyone else. Her relationships matter, and if she tries to assert an independent identity, she is selfish. A narcissist. Someone who puts herself before others. Not a lady.
But the truth is that we are not, in fact, ladies. We are girls who grow into women. At some point if we’re paying attention at all to our lives, we awaken. We take back our power. We stop letting our relationships dictate our identity. We recognize that caring for ourselves is not an option; it’s a priority. We roar when we feel like it, asserting ourselves into our own lives like we have the starring role (because we do). We stop being polite to others while they are rude, inappropriate, and even harassing. We don’t respond to messages when we receive them from strangers or those…