Republican Marty Golden wants unemployed women to take etiquette and deportment classes. Just another example of the complete disregard some of these conservative men have for women and the poor.
What’s more important, to me, than having an expert grasp of the ins and outs of etiquette rules, is being honorable and kind and having self-respect for yourself.
Want to know some things that will get you labeled as “weird” by your peers? Having an old-fashioned sense of honor and fair play and graciousness. Consider trying to always do the right thing, even though it will be misunderstood, and even when it does not benefit you at all (and, in fact, will inconvenience you) to do the right thing, or admit you were at fault, or to be scrupulously honest, or to always tell the truth when you can. People will look at what you do, compare it to what they would do (and, sadly, a lot of people don’t really understand what “honor” means), and judge you on that basis rather than figuring out that you simply don’t act or think like they do or that you are OK with that and that you don’t think you are “right” and they are “wrong” (or vice versa)–they fail to realize that you are just DIFFERENT. We all come from different backgrounds and do things in our own ways. But you’ll be misunderstood if your way is too foreign; you have to just roll with it. Be friendly to all, be kind to all, be close friends with only a few, avoid the “poison pill personalities” that make you feel shitty more than once or those people who persist in filtering your behaviors through some kind of warped dysfunctional lens in their heads and interpreting it in the worst and most offensive way possible…just carry on doing your best to do your best.
What is “behaving honorably” anyway? Well, you know it when you see it or live it, I guess, and I regret to inform you that you WILL be misunderstood or have your actions interpreted less than generously by some people. Sad but true. But be honorable and kind anyway.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being misunderstood when you drive a male acquaintance home after a night out (if you are both straight and if you are female). Your peers might only do it if they had some ulterior motive, like wanting to get laid or something. You do it because you can, and it is the right thing to do if you don’t want to risk having your acquaintance get into an accident or get a ticket or hurt innocent people by crashing into them because your acquaintance was driving impaired. You’re going to be surprised when your acquaintance’s friends give him a hard time about it (but probably not very surprised that none of them offered to drive him home). Consider it a life lesson about what kind of folks they must be, and marvel that they consider his business and your business to be their business.
Solution: Be responsible and concerned about others anyway. If anyone has a problem with it or misunderstands? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being misunderstood when you remain friends with your ex-boyfriends. They didn’t suddenly turn into bad people because the relationship failed to work out, right? You still like the same things about them you did before, it’s just that you guys just don’t want to date anymore. It doesn’t matter who made the decision, really. Eventually that detail is no big deal. While you are still heartbroken, behave with dignity and basic, platonic friendliness until you get over it. It is hard, but not THAT hard. You are an adult. Act like one. (Holy cow, you mean you also like their new girlfriends and wives? What is wrong with you? You must be carrying a torch for them. There is no other explanation. It can’t be that you just LIKE them as human beings! What’s wrong with you, you are supposed to have hate and resentment towards your exes and be jealous of their new partners. Get with the program!)
Solution: Continue to treat them as platonic friends…if they can handle it. (If not; well, you tried. Move on.) Continue to like and appreciate their new partners, because those women happen to be awesome (and clearly they have good taste in men, amirite?) and carry on. If anyone has a problem with it or misunderstands? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being considered stupid or unobservant because you don’t talk about or reveal everything you know about what your peers are up to, and because you don’t share what has been told to you in confidence, so they think you don’t know when, in truth, you just don’t judge them or care. (It is knowing enough about the skeletons in the closet of every single person you hang out with to utterly destroy them with a single sentence, but never, ever doing so, no matter how awfully they behave towards you, because it would be wrong to swat a fly with an H-bomb.)
Solution: Be trustworthy and discreet anyway. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being treated like a token aunt or parent by people only 3-4 years younger than yourself because you already made the mistakes they are making or learned from watching other people fuck up, and being nagged for advice you don’t feel like it is your place to give, and then being avoided or mocked if you do fall for it and offer advice or because someone bared their soul to you and they think you’re going to act like everyone else and betray them, so they better make you look foolish instead.
Solution: Be helpful anyway. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being misunderstood when you treat what other people say with interest, and they interpret your interest in what they say as interest in them “romantically” or a desire to “be their best friend” or a desire to be a “part of their gang.” No, you do it because you generally find what other people have to say interesting because you can learn from different points of view, and because it is polite to hear people out, and you could give a rat’s about being part of any groups, “in” or not.
Solution: Be interested anyway. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being misunderstood when you buy someone’s lunch for them because you can, and they are struggling. Again, you don’t want anything from them, you are just treating them with the same kindness you would like to be treated with.
Solution: Be generous anyway. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being misunderstood when you decline to join in when someone is being teased and it starts to feel a little mean-spirited. It’s not that you have no sense of humor, you just think the best jokes are inclusive and positive, and not designed to make the target feel like shit and then have to sit and take it or be accused of being a poor sport.
Solution: Be thoughtful (and choose not to tease others in a mean way) anyway. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being given a hard time when you pick up your trash when you are ready to leave at the movie theatre and being told to “leave it, that’s what the employees are paid for” or being given a hard time when you clean up your mess at a restaurant and being told “leave it, that’s what the servers are paid for”…but doing it anyway.
Solution: Think of other people’s feelings anyway. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means talking to the homeless guy who likes to sell homemade incense outside the dance club you like to go to regularly, becoming a friendly acquaintance with him because he is funny and smart and a decent dude who fell on hard times, and regularly getting the stink eye for it. (Anyone want some incense? I still have pounds of it.)
Solution: Care about people anyway. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means being responsible enough not to ever drink so much you get impaired, and then having to always be the designated driver because everyone else knows you’re going to be the responsible party. It is then being considered a bit of a drag who should “let her hair down” because you choose not to get stinking drunk and act out and force your friends and acquaintances to babysit your ass.
Solution: Be responsible anyway. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means talking about what interests you and sharing information, and risking being called a big ol’ nerd for it.
Solution: Stupidity is not cute. Ignorance is not cool. Books are awesome. People don’t understand that? Fornicate them right in the earhole.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means keeping your mouth shut more often than not, and not just being a chatterbox to fill the air with the sound of your own voice unless you think you have something productive to say. People are probably going to think you are aloof or superior or unfriendly or stupid.
Solution: Don’t give a shit about other people’s opinions about you, because what they think about you actually isn’t any of your business. Who gives a shit? Not you! Also, fuck ’em.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means giving an acquaintance something nice that you don’t need anymore as a gift without strings, and having to deal with other people who wonder why you didn’t just sell it to make a buck, and who decide you must have had an ulterior motive.
Solution: Give gifts if you want to and give them to whomever you want, it’s your stuff. People don’t understand that? Just say fuck ’em, because giving feels good.
Sometimes having honor or being kind means liking almost everyone despite or because of their human flaws, and enjoying their company, and then having to deal with other people in your social circles getting butthurt because you are not shunning the same people they have some boring and irrelevant-to-you interpersonal conflicts with.
Solution: Choose your own acquaintances and friends without concern for other people’s opinions. People don’t understand that? Fuck ’em.
In other words, your kindness is going to be filtered through the “what would I be doing or thinking in the same situation” lens by people who find basic kindness or honor a bit confusing, and you’re likely to wind up being deemed “weird.” Again. So, some people don’t understand your behavior?
This sort of crap is, of course, your cue to hang out with kinder and more mature people if you find the people you are hanging around with always seem to have difficulty understanding decency and thoughtfulness.
Not giving a shit about other people’s opinions about me and just carrying on means I’m pretty content with life most of the time. If you like me, great; if you don’t, great. I can’t be bothered to have angst over it. I have plenty of friends. I don’t need “friends” who don’t understand me or respect me. Be kind or begone.
Being honorable or kind is not something that can be taught in “Lady Skills” classes. It is probably also not something that a Republican man like Marty Golden–who is prehistoric enough to suggest “Lady Classes” for the unemployed–is going to understand.
To be fair, “being honorable and kind” doesn’t get you employed, either, but you feel a hell of a lot better about yourself on a day to day basis, which makes it worth it.