I’m not a lady.
I’m a woman.
Call me a woman.
Growing up I was, as was every female I know, taught to behave a certain way. To sit this way and walk that way. To talk that way and to eat this way. I was told to be a lady.
“Why?” I asked. “Why can’t I just not be a lady?”
“Because that’s what every woman should be. If you want to be respected you have to be a lady. If you want to marry the wealthiest man you should be a lady. Ladies get married early and live happily.”
"What happens to those who are not ladies?" "They end up poor and unhappy. They never get married and when they do it's to old men. Their children go to low class schools. They grow old and die early. They are not respected and even when they die no one cares about their souls."
I went to government schools. I should have rubbed that in their faces.
"What else should I do to be a lady?"
I was touched by the dying early part. Or maybe it was my biggest bane; unhappiness.
"You need to speak in a soft voice. Eat slowly. Eat little. Stop climbing trees and stealing people's things. Stop playing with boys and start bathing with scented soap. You need to stop snoring and sucking your fingers."
(FYI, I used to suck my fingers. The left hand; middle and forefinger. I did it until class 6)
A lot of years later:
I’m single, horny and happy
The first in line to attend other people’s weddings
Can’t sit straight in a chair( do you want me to die?)
Still climb trees to pluck guavas for the whole village
Would rather hang out with the opposite gender
Check out men for whatever it is they do to women
Hate scented soap
Bathe in record time
Eat to the last bite
Laugh like a power saw cutting through wood
Use vocabularies ladies would die from hearing
Among other very usual things I can’t say because I have to be mysterious
A lot of times if not all, I get disapproving looks about my behavior. My ‘unladylike’ behavior. Now, that doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s the people who still think I can be a lady I’m worried about. They think it’s a phase, like is with me and a lot of things. They think I need just a little guidance. Some even have the audacity to think I’ll change for a lady once I get hitched. Hello, time out. Hitch or no, this person will always listen to Eminem on repeat. Man or no man I’m not stifling my laughs. If a laugh is needed, imma give it.
I get to choose who I become. No one else. If I want to sleep with both legs in conflict, I will. If I want to wear leather and toss chiffon under the rug, I will. It’s my choice. So don’t. Please, enough with the being a lady crap. I’m not a lady. I’m a woman.
And no matter how hard you try to tame women into ‘respectable’ members of the society, they can never be 16th century French women with backs as straight as an arrowhead. Those women were not stagnant and plastic like what you want to create. They were distinguished and poised and honorable.
They were called Lady as a title, class, authority. Not because they were followers of some shitty code of conduct. They sat as they did out of respect for their vulnerabilities. They flirted with gowns and cheated with leather. They ate in the gardens and partied in the town square. They did not fake a moan. They did not sit and wait for things to happen. They were the reason things happened. But anyway what do I know about 16th century French women?
A lady wears makeup to cover up her scars. A woman wears her scars as makeup.
A lady listens and never interrupts. A woman gives you a piece of her mind.
A lady listens to music that ‘mimics her personality’. A woman bangs tunes that make iTunes proud.
A lady panics with each passing day because her clock is ticking; she needs to get married, have kids. A woman doesn’t even remember her own birthday, she has no clock to be reminded of.
A lady wants to be handled with care, a woman takes care of herself.
Yes, I’m full of myself. That’s what happens when you have an ingredient in abundance, you use lots of it. As a woman I have my priorities and all of them come round to me.
So when all my lady friends are shopping for dresses and tiaras I’m here reading about changing car tyres and fixing sinks. For all it’s worth I’m not at all interested in a tiara.
Tiaras are for princesses. And I’m not a princess, SISTAH. I’m a Queen.