I always thought, compared to some of these other girls, I was a lady.
I use to compare myself; how I acted, my character, and the way I dressed; these were all categories that I felt made me a lady, by comparison.
Looking back on my life, I realized that I was, in fact, not being a lady in every aspect of my behaviors.
This was my opinion, and I am sure that others feel the same about themselves. The way I view what a lady is, is deep.
The word lady is subjective, yes, so this is my opinion; itdepends on the speaker to determine what a lady is.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the full definition of the word lady (plural ladies), is
1 a : a woman having proprietary rights or authority especially as a feudal superior
b : a woman receiving the homage or devotion of a knight or lover
capitalized : virgin mary —usually used with Our
3 a : a woman of superior social position
b : a woman of refinement and gentle manners
4 a : wife
5 a : any of various titled women in Great Britain —used as the customary title of (1) a marchioness, countess, viscountess, or baroness or (2) the wife of a knight, baronet, member of the peerage, or one having the courtesy title of lord and used as a courtesy title for the daughter of a duke, marquess, or earl
b : a woman who is a member of an order of knighthood — compare dame
Definition 3b of the definition states, a woman of refinement and gentle manners. This provides two main descriptions or qualities of what a lady is:
refinement and of gentle manners.
The full definition of refinement is
1 : the action or process of refining
3 a : a refined feature or method
b : a highly refined distinction : subtlety
c : a contrivance or device intended to improve or perfect
The key word in 3c, is to perfect yourself.
Perfection is unattainable for any human to obtain every aspect of life.
As humans, we are imperfect, but seeking to obtain perfection, even if it is unattainable is what makes a lady. So what are manners?
The full definition of manner(s):
b plural : social conduct or rules of conduct as shown in the prevalent customs <Victorian manners>
c : characteristic or distinctive bearing, air, or deportment <his poised gracious manner>
e : a distinguished or stylish air
When looking at definition 1b, having manners involves the social conduct of what we, as a society, consider good manners.
If we look at our society, the word manners when describing women, would look like individuals interrupting one another, a vast amount of insults or talking bad, selfishness, back stabbing, and a lack of modesty.
One of my guilty pleasures, is watching any season of Love & Hip Hop on VH1. Every episode has a combination of these poor mannerisms.
The theme of the show are the relationships attained in the Hip Hop world and how the women deal with their rapper, singer, or producer, in the industry. In some cases, both are in the music business.
While watching these relationships unfold, the viewer sees women who allow themselves to be taken advantage of, disrespected in their relationships, and take advantage of.
In every season of Love & Hip Hop (New York, Atlanta, and Hollywood), there are various episodes where women are disrespected and they often times disrespect themselves and the other women on the show.
There are wedding rings thrown into bushes, men and women calling women bitches, and men making women feel like they would be worthless without them.
There are men constantly going to strip clubs and having secret parties away from their women, even though she literally looks and dresses just like a stripper.
On almost every episode, there are two girls who get into a fight over a man, whether arguing or coming to blows. Meanwhile, he is sleeping with both of them, and he stands there without a scratch while they boost his ego by fighting over his cheating a**.
Love Triangles with an ex-girlfriend/baby mom, who was cheated on by her baby daddy with his new girlfriend turned wife/new baby mom, and the ex-girlfriend continues to sleep with him….. #wtf
Stevie J., alone, is a mastermind of deception. He feels that because he has taken a woman from the strip club and helped her with her career, she owes him her life, love, and her body.
Even though Stevie J. is an absolute masognistic fool, his behaviors are not supported alone, because he does not have a lady on his arm.
When we, as women, argue and fight over a man or when we allow ourselves to be emotionally and physically wrapped up in a man, we are devaluing who we are.
Although, this seems to be the typical behavior for women in todays society, this is not what a lady is or should be.
Patrick D. Bennett wrote a research report entitled Love, Drama, and Tears: Hip Hop Feminism, Blackness, and Love and Hip Hop Atlanta where he analyzes the “negative stereotypes of the Black community,” (Bennett, 2014) and relationships. Bennett speaks about Love & Hip Hop, and breaks down the relationship between Stevie J. and Joseline:
The relationship between Stevie J and Joseline is characterized by sexual, physical, and emotional control which is reminiscent of Jackson’s (2006) description of the pimp-whore complex. The pimp-whore complex refers to Black males controlling Black females’ minds and bodies for economical gain (Jackson, 2006). Exemplifying this complex, Stevie J mentions that he will take Joseline back to where he found her in reference to a strip club (Bennett, 2014).
When a woman has low self-esteem; when she has been abused in her youth or told she would never amount to anything, there is a higher likelihood that she will do anything to have the idea of a love relationship with a man. We all have insecurities, most caused by our environments, which begins with the way we were raised by our parents or guardians. For example, if a girl is told by her mother that she is ugly, it is likely that when she becomes a woman, she will feel that she is not pretty or attractive. In our vain society, where looks mean more to people than saving money for a house, it is likely that this woman will be insecure and seek affection from men by exploiting herself physically. When we allow men to use our insecurities against us, and as emotional creatures, we seek attention, affection, and love in destructive ways; we devalue your own self-worth, and it ultimately hinders all women because men use manipulation of feelings to get want they want.
So why do I watch Love & Hip Hop? Well, it is a guilty pleasure, but there are positive moments. Women help support one another’s businesses; men are fathers to their children, and women demand respect from other women and from men.
I am inspired by women like Rasheeda @rasheedadabosschick, (who I follow on Instagram). She has her own businesses in fashion and make-up; she is a female rapper, and she is a loyal wife and mother. Even when she and her husband Kirk had a rough patch in their marriage, where he was disloyal to her, she did not stoop to his level; she demanded to be treated like a lady and made her husband fight for her love.
This, to me, is what a lady is and how she should handle her relationship, not by sleeping with someone to get even.
In the overall, when I watch Love & Hip Hop, I learn what not to do in certain situations. Some of the women on the show have showed strength on continued seasons, where they demand respect, loyalty and learn from their mistakes. Alternatively, there is a continued foundation of disrespect towards women, from themselves and men, and a continued lack of modesty that will cause any man to treat a woman like a stripper instead of the lady she could be.
LADYHOOD is a journey. I am a woman, but do not feel that I have reached my true potential as a lady, but I will continue to strive to be that lady, and I want all women to do the same.
Bennett, Patrick D., “Love, Drama, and Tears: Hip Hop Feminism, Blackness, and Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” (2014).Research Papers. Paper 530. http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/gs_rp/530