I Throw Like a Girl But Don’t Call Me a Lady

Meditations in Motion

Once a month I meet with a group of retired educators for lunch. This is a formidable bunch of women, strong, opinionated, polished, and witty. They are well-traveled and extremely well-read.

There are usually several conversations going on at once, and you better be quick to keep up, this crowd does not suffer fools lightly.

The women at these gatherings have the ability to make you squirm in your seat merely by a raising eyebrow and shooting a look. They are not to be trifled with.

After we are assembled at the restaurant, invariably we hear something like this: “What can I get for you today, ladies?” and invariably I cringe.

These are not ladies, I think; these are women.

Miriam-Webster defines ladies as “a woman of refinement and gentle manners“.

Inquiring about the gentle manners” of any member of this group might cause them to do a spit-take with a sip of their exquisite Pinot Grigio.

At our Christmas gathering, a waiter made the mistake of asking one former physics teacher with snow-white hair if the “young lady” was ready to order. She pinned him to the spot with a stony stare, honed over four decades of dealing with unruly teenagers. He finally mumbled an apology and slunk away.

Being referred to as a lady makes me feel as though I am being patronized by someone who is either younger or a different gender than me. Here’s the thing: I don’t know how to be a lady.

I was never very lady-like.

Meditations in MotionWhen I was a little girl, I played baseball with the boys, rather than dolls with the other girls, at least until the boys were old enough to play organized ball and I was excluded. And yes, I threw like a girl. I was a girl.

I climbed trees, ran races, skinned my knees, and caught bugs. My best friend was a boy.

As I got older, I was not interested in being a cheerleader or even a majorette. I wanted to play sports.

Now, I rarely wear make-up and the thought of donning high heels makes me queasy. You would never catch a man teetering around on a pair of six-inch spike heels. I don’t want to imitate men, but this is something I believe they have right.

When you call me a lady, my mental image is of a prissy, dainty woman whose house is immaculate and who never sweats. Someone who would never talk about sex with her girlfriends or husband. That’s not me.

Women are given confusing messages when society tells them to “be a lady“.

Does that mean we should be quiet, docile, and passive? Should we refrain from laughing too loud, talking too much, being assertive? Maybe we should dye our hair, get ourselves some bigger, perkier boobs and Botox our wrinkles? Would that make us more lady-like?

Throw faith into the picture and the water becomes even murkier.

Meditations in MotionFor a long time, I could not embrace Christianity because I believed it to be a male-centered religion. What about all those verses from Scripture that seem to promote patriarchy? Aren’t women told to be “submissive“?

A deeper reading of those Scriptures reveals more about the cultural attitudes of biblical times than the will of God.

Yes, God wants wives to submit to husbands, but His intention is for husbands to submit to their wives too. Through mutual submission, obedience, and humility, we gain strength.

In his instructions for Christian households, Saint Paul tells husbands and wives “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Patriarchy is a tool used to suppress women, not God’s plan for humanity.

As it turns out, Jesus loves women too. He doesn’t want us to be more like men, or to be more lady-like; He wants us to love ourselves. Just as we are. Even if we are loud, boisterous, and exuberant. Yes, even if we sit with our right ankle on our left knee.

Women are made to shine with God’s reflected light just like men. Playing small and quiet doesn’t benefit anyone. We are, each of us, a unique and precious individual, created to raise our voices and speak Love.

These are my thoughts on a sensitive topic. I realize they may not be popular with everyone and that’s OK.

You might call me a strident, emasculating, feminist radical. On the other hand, you may call me an uneducated, angry, anti-progress reactionary.

Please just don’t call me a “lady“.

 

You can find the places I link up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

101 comments

  1. I don’t mind being called a lady, because I think they do it as a sign of respect. Like when they address a gathering, Ladies and Gentlemen!
    But each to their own! Be a woman. Proud and strong!πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well put. The term lady is dated and ridiculous. It indicated social status at a time when that seemed to be important. WeΒ΄ve come a long way as women and should be proud of that. Before I retired, I had my own business, had jobs in management and got paid the same as my male counterparts. I wore high heels and makeup, still do, and refuse to be called a lady.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha, great post. I’m completely with you about social media. Everything I read tells me to cater to social but I just want to write. And I’m supposed to focus like a laser in my blog but I have too many interests. So, I just write for me and enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny, I’ve never examined it as you have here, but I have an uneasy relationship with the word “lady” as well. It feels like a euphemism to me. And what really gets my goat is when people assume that “the ladies” need to carry pink Bibles and study only the books of Ruth and Esther…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Actually, I don’t mind the term “lady”. Perhaps it’s because I grew up reading many novels by P.G. Wodehouse, an English author (“My Man, Jeeves”). Many of his books were about English aristocracy in the early 20th century. The “ladies” were anything but that and it was hysterically funny.
    I like how you explain the way submissiveness is used in the Bible. A marriage will work if husband and wife both serve, love and respect each other. Both should submit to each other. It’s a shame it is so often misunderstood today.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree. The Bible was written at a time when women were, “worth alittle more than cattle” and yet Jesus came and was quite the feminist. He even called his “church” the bride and gave his life for her. Christianity is the most empowering “equal” religion. Go anywhere else in the world where other religions rule and women are still oppressed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great post! I cringe at the term lady too but I never really thought about why. This makes a lot of sense though. It seems to put me in a box that I don’t really fit in. And even for people who fit a traditional feminine model, who wants to be put in a box?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Grrr!!!!!!! I often overhear teachers say, “Ladies first,” when there are both boys and girls in the classroom getting into a line or waiting for something to be distributed. It makes me practically COMBUST. I want to scream, “Haven’t we come far ENOUGH to leave that behind?!” Can’t it just be about being courteous HUMANS? I hold the door for many a man/woman/child in public…In fact, I let a woman 20 years younger than me go ahead of me in line at the supermarket this morning…it’s just about being PEOPLE here.
    Good grief.
    Guess you found a nerve πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Laurie, I love this. I would love to sit with your group of formidable women and listen. Just listen. I don’t know if I would have anything to add, but would probably learn a thing or two while sipping on my brandy old fashioned.

    I was not ladylike either when growing up. It’s my brother’s fault. He led me to climb trees, catch spiders, build box forts and dig snow tunnels. I developed a fondness for clothes, but not the super frilly stuff. Never had more than a 2″ heel on shoes, but these days everything is flat. And I prefer to sweat at yoga or ride a trail bike than worry about appearances.

    Thank you for adding the part about Christianity and submission. It’s important for Christian women to understand they also have a voice and deserve equal respect from their partners.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This group of women is indeed formidable. I am one of the youngest of the group since I just recently retired. I am so fortunate to be able to socialize with these women who were my mentos when I first started teaching.
      Thank you for the comment on the part about Christian women. I don’t want to offend, but I feel like it’s important to say.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Right on, sister! Interesting how the many (so, so many) folks who enjoy teaming up Jesus with the patriarchy never seem to get around to that full quote from Saint Paul. I will just say that, having been in service positions many times in my survival-job days, our culture lacks options for politely addressing a woman or group of women one doesn’t know β€” so I don’t get too flapped about being addressed with the term “lady.” But I do take umbrage at being called “young lady” by anyone, and most certainly someone younger than me. Such an unwise person would risk the same treatment as that waiter did from your formidable friend πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I was a tomboy too but I never mind being referred to as a lady. It’s better than being called a “babe.” (ugh) “Dame” is okay. A dame is a tough lady. Where I grew up formidable women were often called “broads.” It’s connotation really. I never associate being lady-like with being submissive but can understand where you’re coming from.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I am astounded. I never thought of anything negative with the term “lady.” I was tomboyish as a child, but definitely more girly by teens and twenties and up. But I don’t agree that femininity is about painted fingernails and high heels. I once scored low in one of those silly quizzes for “how feminine are you” because I didn’t like those kids of things.

    I once did a post about the fact that the Bible recommending a “meek and quiet spirit” wasn’t about talking little or low–a quiet spirit is one that’s activity resting on Christ rather than frantically worrying.

    I actually like gentle manners–in both men and women. To me that speaks of thoughtfulness and consideration of others.

    When I coordinated a ladies’ group at a former church, some didn’t like when I addressed the group as a whole as ladies, which I didn’t often. More like, “Ladies, if I can have your attention…” But I didn’t want to say “girls” (we had one speaker who did that, and it totally rubbed me the wrong way). And “women” didn’t sound right, either. I guess in either that setting or a restaurant, we don’t have to address the people as anything–just “What can I get you?” without an appellation.

    I’m not arguing against your viewpoint–I just think it’s fascinating there can be such different perceptions of a word’s connotation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barbara, I read your comment, then went swimming this morning. Swimming laps is pretty boring and gave me time to think about what you wrote.

      I think you are exactly right. I would not be offended at all by you addressing me as “lady” in the context of your church group. It’s when the term is used in a condescending manner that it rubs me the wrong way. How can I tell when it’s used condescendingly? I can’t say. Maybe I should not be so easily offended.

      I am thinking a lot about humility this year and I agree with your statement about the quiet spirit actively resting in Christ. That is a goal I hope to be moving toward.

      You certainly gave me a lot to think about. Thank you for your comment! πŸ™‚

      Like

  13. Laurie, I don’t mind being referred to as a Lady, in fact, I consider it a compliment when used in the appropriate context. I am a lady of the South, and we can say FY as easily as we can say ‘have a nice day.’ It’s all in the attitude and delivery. Young lady is condescending to anyone over 50 and should be rebuked as such. I always appreciate your perspective. Thank you so much for being you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have a few pet hates – and Maam is at the top of that list. As an aside, I detest the sort of condescending behaviour that some people see as being flattery – like the example you used above. Having said that, I don’t tend to have a problem with “ladies” as a plural to address a group. And re submission? Partnership implies that each will submit and support the other in respect and love…in my ever so humble & not so quiet opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I will be sure to remember that if I ever meet you, Laurie. I think the last time I called someone a Lady was 23 years ago when my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter was wearing a yellow sundress with a matching hat, she was going to be a flower girl, there were little red flowers on her dress and hat too, I said “Aren’t you a pretty young lady?”, she stuck out her lip and stamped one foot and said “I’m not a young lady!”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. So I need to be more aware of this, Laurie! I don’t think “lady” was really on my radar, but it will be now. I’m glad you shared this because if it bothers you, there are likely many more that it bothers too. Why use “lady” when we can easily use other words? I’ll work on it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s the context that “lady” is used, Lisa. If a woman my age (or close) called me “Lady”, I probably would not mind. It’s when it comes from someone younger or from a man that it may seem condescending. You may call me “Lady” any day! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I always enjoy your posts, Laurie, not just because of your topics but because, for me, you write in a way that engages. You can write! I agree with your premise about “lady” versus “women”, and the imprisoning social constructs around the former.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great post! My daughter is 2.5 and I am being very conscious to not use language like ‘that is not very lady like’ with her. I don’t want to push that age old stereotype of what a girl should be onto her, but instead let her naturally be who she wants to be. Inevitably she has decided she loves dolls, stuffed toys and pink, ha! #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

  19. We learn a lot of our attitudes from our parents – mothers especially. My mother told me as a child to act like a lady quite often. The funny thing is when my visited me in my 30’s and did what I did as a child, I said you’re not acting like a lady. She laughed and said I’m old and I don’t care! Well I’m old and I don’t care – no more make up or high heels. Give me comfortable clothes and shoes. I’m more interested in a bright sunny day than wearing the latest fashion.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Laurie, isn’t it interesting how certain words rub us the wrong way? As for your friend who glared down that young waiter, good for him. I think sometimes people think they are being courteous or funny, but it comes across as patronizing.

    I, personally, don’t mind being called a lady, depending on the situation. But I do not like being talked down to by anyone.

    I love how you highlighted that both men and women are loved passionately by Jesus. Both men and women can brightly shine His life into the world around us. Neither sex is better than the other. We were each created with different strengths and giftings. Jesus loves us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Jeanne. The “young lady” comment seemed patronizing. I think the context of using the term “lady” has a lot to do with my reaction to it. I don’t like to be patronized and may be getting just a little bit touchier on the subject as I get older.

      Men and women were created differently, but God loves each equally. One gender is not better than the other.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. This was so cute and funny. Love the title. I am not offended by being called a lady, even if I am not refined, but I hate being told I throw like a girl. I always think. “Well heck, I am a girl. How else am I supposed to throw.”

    I used to think the church was not healthy for women, but have come to realize how radical Jesus was towards women and how he elevated them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Theresa. I think the context of the term “lady” has a lot to do with how I feel about being addressed that way. It can seem condescending to me. My sister commented to me about the “throwing like a girl” remark. She thought our dad should have taught us to throw better! πŸ™‚

      Like

  22. Hmm now you have me thinking because I call my track girls “ladies” at times, like “Nice job ladies!” during a workout. I think it’d be odd say “Nice job women” and “nice job girls” seems to imply they’re younger than what they are. I do collectively say “Good job guys” to mixed gender groups.

    I have never worn a pair of high heels in my life. I’ve tried them on and look like a newborn calf trying to walk in them. I stick with low shoes or once in a blue moon dress shoes with a chunk heel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think intent and context has a lot to do with how “ladies” comes across. You talking to your track students…not condescending; a young waiter talking to older women…maybe condescending.

      I used to tell my students to dress up for the science fair when I was the director. Girls often wore high heels (maybe for the first time), took them off and went barefoot within an hour or so.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Laurie, you sound just like my sister. She was a basketball player and athlete. I was the majorette. Thanks for this. You brought back to my memory some really good memories. πŸ™‚

    Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. So much is in a word…from our childhood to the sexist comments or whatever. Here’s what I have noticed in the 40+ years as a teacher. We always called the K-6 students “boys and girls” and sometimes for the younger ones “Children”, then 25 years ago “guys” became the generic word for a group of students/people and I did not like it but over time I began using it for its familiarity to those intended. I called out to two female neighbours the other night “Ladies, the kids are still playing around our front yard”.I just said Ladies because it was preferable to shouting hey you. SO many reasons why so many words gel or jar aren’t there? You got this readership thinking alright!!

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week #174. Next week’s optional prompt is 6/51 Interesting 10.2.2020. Hope to see you again there too. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the context and intent of using “ladies” make all the difference in how I react to it. YOU could call me “lady” and I would not be offended. A young waiter…maybe not. Thank you for the chance to link up!

      Like

  25. I use lady a fair bit in the comments on the blog and Facebook page, but it might be one of those bad habits I’ve slipped in to, like using LIKE or SO all the time. Haha. That said, as daunting as it sounds, I want an invite to this lunch!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I really don’t mind the word lady, I don’t really think there are many ladies left these days anyway, so why would I be bothered. I would however, find it condescending to be called ‘young lady’ by a waiter. I’m glad he got ‘the Stare.’

    Liked by 1 person

  27. That’s interesting to read your thoughts on being called a lady. I’d never think of ‘lady’ as being condescending or patronising – I would be more likely to use it to be respectful. That said, referring to a mature woman as a ‘young lady’ is patronising. Interesting too to read your reflections on Paul and how we are called to submit to each other. The Bible is all too often used to justify a patriarchal society but I often remind myself of how often Jesus chose to reveal his messages to women, particularly those who were considered of even lower status in his society. It’s interesting too that Jesus chose to appear first to a woman on Easter morning. I agree with you that God calls us as we are, loves us for who we are and uses the unique skills that each of us has, and that suppressing women through a patriarchal society is not part of his plan for humanity. #WotW

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s the intent and context in which “ladies” is used. When we call each other “ladies” it’s not disrespectful; when a younger waiter uses it, it might be. I believe Jesus was a big promoter of women, especially considering what was normal in Biblical times. Patriarchy cannot be God’s plan.

      Like

  28. I totally get why people don’t like the term Lady, but I don’t like “Women” either. I think of “wimmin” and the fact it’s a derivative of Man. But then I cringe when I say Lady, so I’m not sure how we win and usually en up saying “guys” Hahaha πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I really enjoyed reading this, Laurie. I don’t mind being called a lady but I totally get where you’re coming from. And I’d love to listen in on one of your monthly lunches with your retired educator friends too. They sound like a great group of women.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lois. I think the context in which “lady” is used has a big effect on how I respond to being called “lady”. I think you would fit right in with my friends. They really are a lot of fun! πŸ™‚

      Like

  30. So much I love about this post. While it’s not popular opinion it is true that the very reason woman was created was to be a helper to the man – and because the man needed the woman. After 20 years of marriage I’m finally seeing how much more smoothly life goes when we reach submit to the other. Thank you so much for linking up with Grace and Truth this week

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I do always use the term lady out of politeness more than anything, I’ve never really put much thought into how the person might feel about the term. To me the word woman or man seem quite impolite and impersonal when I’m referring to someone, definitely one to ponder. It sounds like you have a great bunch of friends to get together with.

    Liked by 1 person

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