Shotgunnin' that beer! Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
For all the women out there reading this, lady is generally considered the ‘polite’ term for a woman, and refers to said woman’s behavior.
A lady is a female who is well behaved, proper and virtuous. For those of you who aren’t used to archaic English terms such as virtuous, when used in reference to a woman it typically means someone who is chaste, virginal, has not had sex.
Put simply, a lady is a female who does not consume alcohol, swear, speak rudely, meets social expectations of proper behaviour fitting females, and who does not have sex with anyone but her husband.
Calling a woman, a lady can be considered offensive especially when said woman is well aware of the weight of social expectation behind this term.
The word woman means adult female human and does not refer to behaviour at all. It must be used in conjunction with other words or phrases to describe behaviour - for example “woman of the streets” describes a woman who works as prostitute (and thus is not considered a lady).
This is something to consider when women refer to or address a group of women as “ladies”. In a similar fashion with male bonding, a man typically refers to groups of male mates, friends or work colleagues as “the boys”. If these two terms are compared and considered in a behavioural context, it is interesting to see how different the expectations are of both genders.
The term “ladies” brings to mind the image of a group of polite adult women who engage in mature, stately or overly nice (boring) behaviours, while “the boys” brings up the image of a group of rowdy boys up to no good (fun things) which are accepted and excused under the umbrella of boys (male children) who can’t be expected to be adult ie. responsible.
Well, f… that noise. And for your information the f-word there was edited on behalf for the media publishing corporation which this article is published on, and should not be construed as the author being polite and gently spoken.
And f... you too!
Some may also dismiss this viewpoint as a feminist agenda (another f-word), so take the time to consider all those girl children who reject being gender typed into appropriate behaviour boxes and whom society usually ends up calling tomboys (because they can’t possibly be real girls). Most of those little girls don’t even know what feminism is but are well aware of that other f-word and aren’t shy about using it either (out of hearing shot of their parents usually).
Ain’t a lady. My love for whiskey, sex, the f-word, doing fun and reckless things, and getting my hands sooty lighting fires kind of makes me completely and utterly ineligible for the “lady” label. Thank f…!
So unless you are referring to a religiously and societally moral woman who does not drink alcohol, is a chaste virgin (or only has sex with her one and only who she is married to) and scrupulously avoids swearing at all cost (preferring to take the fridge’s name in vain)… maybe you should avoid calling her a lady. It is time to move on beyond these archaic English values of limiting women’s behaviour with societal and language mores.