Andrea T Edwards

Raising Gentlemanly Sons

My hubby Steve has made it his life’s mission to turn our boys into gentlemen. It’s very sweet.

At the grand old age of six and seven, they know you should never go into a ladies’ handbag – although that rule is always ignored if Tic Tacs are on show. Another rule they have picked up is when getting into a lift or going through a door with females present, they’ll stand back and say “ladies first” – remembering most of the time to wait for said lady to go first. The future potential is there at least. I like the fact Steve is preparing my boys to go out into the world to treat women with respect. It will serve them well.

A little montage of my lads…
However, I think I have a role to play on this mission too, because I need to teach the boys how to deal with a woman like me – well like I used to be.

You see, when I was a teenager (and into my 20s), if a man opened a door for me, he would get a very severe tongue lashing. I saw it as demeaning and told him so with lots of potty language in the mix. I know that many men in Australia walked away from those situations very VERY confused, because they saw it as just trying to do something nice for me. I was a stubborn bitch on this particular issue in those days.

While I still consider myself a feminist and always will, when it comes to men being gentlemen, I decided to get over it and become much more genteel in my reactions.
I think the day it all changed was in 1995 in London. I was walking along with a colleague and he kept insisting on walking on the street side of me. Being elegant, I said “what the fuck are you doing?”

He explained that, in the olden days, a gentleman always walked on the outside of a lady, because if a horse and cart went by and disturbed a puddle, the man should be the one to get splashed. I was so taken aback by this quaint response, but equally, by his absolute determination that no matter what I did (or said), he would stand by this value. It changed me completely. I respected that he was unapologetic for treating me this way and saw it as the right way to behave – no matter my arguments. He could teach Aussie men strategies for dealing with women like me.

It was definitely one of those small moments that changed me, and while I still open doors for anyone I’m with, I am always gracious when someone does it for me – especially men. Then again, I live in Asia and most of the time, doors are slammed in your face… Who would ever have thought I’d miss genteel behaviour?

So for my boys – considering their teenage years will probably be in Australia – I need to get them geared up to deal with any tongue lashing women who instantly presume it is some kind of a put down. Women like I used to be. I need to arm them with the right responses and the quaint explanations that stop women in their tracks. I need to arm them to be strong enough to stand tall when faced with a verbal tirade.

The truth is, I like being married to a gentleman, and I like that my boys are being raised to be gentlemen. It’s not like I’m an inferior member of this family. Hello! Everyone in this family knows who wears the pants around here… well when it matters.

Anyone else have thoughts on the idea of gentlemanly behavior – for or against?

Yours, without the bollocks

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