Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Wise Words from Margaret Mitchell

I often refer back to the second religious manual of southern women after the Bible- well maybe third after Emily Post's Etiquette - Margaret Mitchell's epic novel Gone with the Wind. No, my heart does not hearken back to our most recent unpleasantness nor do I condone the sins of our past, that said, I find Ms. Mitchell's text and dialogue often full of wit and brilliant prose.

I'm not sure from what part of the book the following came from, but it is spot on for southern women.

“It was this feminine conspiracy which made Southern society so pleasant.Women knew that a land where men were contented, uncontradicted and safe in possession of unpunctured vanity was likely to be a very pleasant place for women to live. So, from the cradle to the grave, women strove to make men pleased with themselves, and the satisfied men repaid lavishly with gallantry and adoration. In fact, men willingly gave ladies everything in the world except credit for having intelligence.”

Hopefully, in the 85 years since the publication of Miss Mitchell's novel, we have learned some lessons. Women have found their voice and men, well at least some of them, have started to realize that women are more than just pretty faces to be adored. 

To quote another woman, "I am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore." 

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the gallantry and adoration of a gentleman. It is not lost on me the manners of someone walking after me up stairs and in front going down - to prevent me from falling, on the outside on the sidewalk to keep my skirt clean, or standing when I enter a room. Opening doors, pulling out chairs, and assisting with a coat may be old school, but I know courtesy and respect when I see it. Give us some credit - we know a good thing when we experience it. Personally, I do not find these gestures offensive, but rather a dying tradition. 

Perhaps we should show some intelligence and enjoy it while it last. After all, the time of chivalry is passing and may soon be gone with the wind.

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