I know this website usually deals with blogs posts, but here’s some food for thought: today I was reading the “Miss Manners” column in the Washington Post and found something pretty disconcerting. A reader had written in with a simple question - is it okay for a girl to say no to someone asking her to prom, only to then yes to someone else who asks her later? The response (available in full here) was a vehement no:
If you are the parent of a young gentleman to whom this has been done, Miss Manners can confirm that the young lady is indeed rude, and that however crushed your son is, he is better off. She would be capable of committing another rudeness, such as breaking the date later.
To the parents of such disrespectful young girls, Miss Manners has more to say:
You should tell your daughter that as the idea is to avoid hurting the young gentleman’s feelings, in theory, she should be able to do this if he would never find out. Then ask her how she would decline without being unkind or untruthful. And remind her that there are no secrets in high school.
I have a lot of problems with this. The issue theoretically at hand - whether or not it is worth it to sacrifice your own comfort and enjoyment to spare someone else’s feelings - doesn’t necessarily have to be tied up with gender, but Miss Manners presents it here as if it does. There is no question of what happens if a girl asks a boy to prom, much less if a girl asks a girl or a boy asks a boy (and even less if someone uncomfortable with the gender binary has the audacity to want a prom date). So I think it is very fair to examine it in terms of gender.
Miss Manners is saying a lot a dangerous things. Basically,
- It is the girl’s job to protect the boy’s feelings.
- The only way for her to do this is to accept his invitation or no invitation.
- Her feelings are not important, at least in comparison.
- The worst thing she can do is be “unkind and untruthful”.
- Any girl who does not recognize these rules and abide by them has not just done something rude but is inherently rude herself - someone the boy is “better off” without.
And, Miss Manners still has more to add:
There is another lesson you might give [your daughter], even though she will not believe it. That is that some law of nature makes the least popular boy in high school into the most desirable man later in life, yet, no matter how successful and glamorous he has become, makes him remember and continue to smart from having been slighted.
Miss Manners does not give teenage girls very much credit, assuming that the only reason they would dismiss a potential date is if they found him too unpopular or unattractive. Maybe that’s sometimes the case. But you can also turn someone down because you have a ridiculous, crazy crush on someone else who you heard is going to ask you. Or who doesn’t know you exist. You can turn someone down because you’re great platonic friends and you think it would be too awkward. You can turn someone down because you’re just not into him or her.
There are millions of reasons that people of all genders reject other people. Just because some of those reasons are bad doesn’t mean that people aren’t entitled to make their own decisions. Maybe, as Miss Manners envisions, a popular girl is turning down a geeky guy (and apparently, scarring him for life) because she can’t see past superficial things. Maybe it is a mistake on her part and she’s really going to be missing out on something great. She still has the right to make that mistake and not be vilified for it.
High school prom is not the biggest deal in the world, and maybe in the larger scheme of things it wouldn’t kill girls to accept invitations from people they’d rather not have as dates. But it is wrong to teach them that they have no say in the matter - that their personal preferences and interests are not a big deal, especially when a man’s feelings are at stake. It is equally wrong to dramatically victimize a teenage boy and raise him to feel wronged and insulted when he does not get his way. Whether it comes to a dance, a casual date, a relationship, or sex, no one is entitled or obligated to anything; rather, both parties should have and feel that they have equal value and voice in making decisions.
“Miss Manners” and Mainstream Etiquette
reblogged from stfuetiquetteblogs
originally posted by stfuetiquetteblogs
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