Frankly I don’t give a ……..
Let’s talk about the south and the “southern belle”. Many people see movies like “Fried Green Tomatoes” or “The Secret’s of the YaYa Sisterhood” and think that is what a modern southern belle is. They couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The south doesn’t want their daughters raised like Scarlett, they want Melanie. Sweet, gentile, compromising, forgiving, enabling, the very picture of southern grace and charm.
Grace and charm…… grace and charm…. sounds like cake ingredients doesn’t it? A pinch of grace and a dash of charm and stir. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice?
And this, these ideas, these archaic beliefs that women are fragile and unable to stand up for themselves, that women are stupid. Where do they come from? Well we all know where they originated, problem is few people realize just how much they are continued in the south. Yes even today.
They teach you that you know. In charm school. And yes it is called charm school. You start when you are in the first grade. The first things they teach you is how to sit, stand, walk, talk, what to do with your hands during any situation, how to shake hands, how never to cross your legs at the knee, but to tuck them to the side crossed at the ankles. Then they move into meals and tables, how to set a table for 1-12 courses, 5 to 500 people. What piece of cutlery goes with what food. When to have finger bowls and when not to. Menus and music for any size event. What to wear and when to wear it because no self respecting southern girl wears white shoes after labor day by god and won’t put on a pair again until Easter Sunday.
Then, starting around 4th grade, they start with the how to be stupid classes. Well not how to be stupid, just how to make everyone around you think you are. Well not everyone, just men. And they tell you it’s to keep the men happy. That way they can feel all big and macho taking care of the “little woman”. You learn how to avert your eyes and laugh a little when asked about something you know damn well how to do, but it’s a man’s job to do it. They teach you how to appear interested in what “the man” is interested in. They give you just enough information on a variety of topics to make you either dangerous or stupid. Then they show you how to turn it to stupid. You learn how to be touchy feely. How to lightly place your hand on the man’s arm or shoulder to keep his attention because men are physical beings you know. As for taking care of your man, well now why do you think we all still cook the way we do? Keep ‘em fat and happy!! (wink wink)
And so many women don’t know how to be strong, or that they are even allowed to be. They are scared and many are miserable and in miserable situations because they don’t have any idea what to do on their own. Mothers and friends will tell a woman with a cheating husband to be “more generous” in the bedroom. They will tell a woman who has been beaten by her spouse to avoid the things that set him off and to make the home a safe, quiet place for him to come home to. If they even hear about the abuse at all because in the south, what happens behind closed doors stays there. God help the person who breaks that sanctity.
I’m not in a position to talk. I didn’t leave the bullshit behind closed doors. My dirty laundry was all over for the world to see. They didn’t actually come and take away my “southern belle tiara” but they may as well have. Nobody and I mean absolutely nobody can do the “shunning” better than the south. Once that door is closed, Robert E. Lee back from the dead couldn’t open it. I’m like that divorced cousin everyone wants at their parties to liven up the party but doesn’t want to stay the night.
And then we come to today. I haven’t lived in the south for a couple of decades but I know they still offer these classes because if nothing else, southerners are serious about their roots and their traditions. There are still cotillions and sweet 16 balls. And because I get a letter every year letting me know that they are still holding a place for my daughter and it’s never too late to start.
But what have these idiotic ideas of how a woman should act, talk, walk, dress, speak affected the women of the south? Well actually it is not as bad as one might think. Why you ask? Because we learned the pretend to be stupid thing really well. Very few realize just how smart we are! And as for my generation, they won’t learn it from us! Because as long as you keep on thinking I’m stupid, I can keep on surprising you!
As for my daughter? Well I keep trying to convince a certain hero of mine to start her own version of “Charm School” that will teach my daughter to kick ass and take names and wear whatever fucking color of shoes she wants year round!