Recently the term “act like a lady” has reared its repressive Victorian head in the news. A Houston middle school was forced to take down its banner, “The more you act like a lady, the more he’ll treat you like a gentleman,” and a female crime reporter in Colorado was likewise admonished by the police as she was cuffed and stuffed in a cruiser after doing her job. Although being a lady — or not — isn’t in and of itself a crime, the phrase still carries Jane Austen-era expectations.
For most of recent society history, ladies were separate from working-class women, who enjoyed the equality of working alongside men. A lady stayed in the home, did as she was told and pursued needlepoint. Society kept a stern eye on her: She did not flit about unchaperoned, obeyed the male members of the household in all things and, if she did go out, was not permitted to raise her skirts unless there was mud in the streets, while gentlemen could raise any skirts they liked.
Inherent in “acting like a lady” also was eschewing intellect in favor of a graceful and feminine manner. Elizabeth Barrett Browning used to feign hysterics so she could go to her room and write poetry.
However, removing a banner from the school hallway is easier than ridding society’s mind of ladylike notions. Although I didn’t use the phrase “act like a lady” when rearing my daughter, once when she was 6 and we drove by the neighborhood pool hall, she asked if we could go in. I said, “No, ladies don’t go in there.”
To which she promptly responded, “When I grow up, I’m going to skip school and shoot pool.”
Patricia Gannon covers society for The Acadiana Advocate. She can be reached at Fete@theadvocate.com.
All acting like ladies here, that’s for sure. The Eta Chi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority held its fourth annual Pink Pizzazz Zydeco & Jazz Brunch at River Oaks. The event is a major fundraiser to provide scholarships to area students and also funds other community service projects aligned with the theme, “Exemplifying Excellence through Sustainable Service.” “We want to thank the community,” said Vice President Marilyn Marshall. “If they didn’t help us, we couldn’t provide the services we do.” Not even the steady rain kept Baton Rouge-born Shawn Simmons off the interstate from Houston. “We come to support each other,” Simmons said. And lending their support was the Bunk Johnson Brass Band, DJ Dr. Boogie Live, fundraising chair Kendra Neal, Keena JeanLouis and handsome man Lloyd Jones. What we loved: Shirley Cormier out-pearled Fête, and that’s tough to do.
Lady in Red
The Krewe of Zeus honored Ragin' Cajuns athletics with a “Dress in Red” dance at the Petroleum Club. Bill and Trey provided the entertainment and Marlene Milam the pictures, for which we are extremely grateful. Also on the dance floor: Elaine and Garland Bernard, David Hearne, Elaine Foreman, Buddy Guidry, Doris Theall and Jim Reeves.
What do you call a lot of lawyers at Le Pavillon? An excellent evening. The Lafayette Bar Association hosted its fifth Hall of Fame Banquet, the better to honor its outstanding attorneys and their careers. Taking that long walk to the podium were Richard Becker, corporate lawyer extraordinaire, oil and gas litigator Lawrence P. Simon Jr. and consummate family law attorney Diane Sorolla, while posthumous honors went to William "Bill" H. Mouton and Joseph Onebane. Enjoying the cocktail ambience: Fête favorites Helen Barnes and Ed and Elaine Abell. The Louisiana Bar Association Hall of Fame recognizes the utmost degree of professionalism, dedication to the community and participation in the association.
Caught Doing Good
Acadiana Republican Women, a Lafayette-based chartered club of the National Federation of Republican Women, recently collected 200 items for the Lafayette Food Net. The group participates in several service endeavors for veterans, literacy and the community. Club President Patricia Soulier and Community Service Chairwoman Peggy Buckels delivered the goods.
Ici On Parle Chinois
The Vermilionville Cultural Center, home of the Healer's Garden and traditional Cajun medicinal cures, was privileged to hear a discourse with demonstration by Dan Liu, a doctor of Chinese medicine. Liu lectured on the many virtues of the winter melon to the body, aided by translator Sophie Zhao. Prepared as tea or soup, winter melon is touted for its vitamins, minerals, weight loss properties and as a help for hypertension. Taking it all in were traiteuse Mary Perrin and newly minted master gardener Christine Devenport.