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Websters New World College dictionary:
Ladylike describes behavior considered appropriate for a well-mannered female. (adjective)
Crossing your legs gently at the ankles in a proper feminine way is an example of behavior that would be described as ladylike.
This is what the Oxford English dictionary defines as lady-like:
1 a with the modesty, manners, etc., of a lady. b befitting a lady.
2 (of a man) effeminate.
I was interested to see here, that as well as 'modesty' and 'manners' etc.,of a lady, and b befitting a lady, they have written the second definition - that in a man, to be ladylike is to be effeminate. In Mrs Helen Andelin's book 'Fascinating Womanhood' (which you can purchase from Amazon by clicking the link on this page), she explains how the feminine manner, dress and behaviour in women most often brings out the manly, masculinity in the men around them. And one can observe that the opposite is true too.
When I was a little girl, I would often hear people say things like 'You look very ladylike in that dress' or 'that isn't a very ladylike thing to say' or 'Can you sit in a more ladylike way, please?' I really, really wanted to be a lady, and I remember how nice it felt if people commented that I looked like a lady.
But over the years, feminism has turned the term 'ladylike' into an insult. It vehemently espouses that women must turn their back on such ridiculous desires within us to act as ladies, and that girls must suppress those nasty little inklings if they wish to gain any self-respect for themselves. I have a picture in my mind of these demanding and angry women turning quite purple in the face, as little girls persist and delight in making ladylike tea-parties (and considerately pouring little cups of imaginary tea for their thirsty teddy bears), and compassionately tucking up poorly dollies in their own little beds,(pillows prettily plumped) and sitting in their best frocks, listening and conversing kindly with their guests.
So, in my little series 'Learning to be Ladylike' I am going to be exploring what it is to be ladylike, and devising some interesting lessons and challenges that we might like to try, in our roles as home-makers, mothers and daughters.
Let's celebrate being Ladylike LADIES!
I do hope you'll join in the fun. Look out for Lesson One soon