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January 22, 2010

In Search of "The Good Woman"

The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over women by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting -- force is losing its weight and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age, less masculine, and more permeated with the feminine ideals -- or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced.

- Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era

I begin with this quote because it made me think of the role of affluence/technology in changing gender roles. A good example of this is that traditionally men have been prized for their ability to fight and to protect women and children, but to a certain extent the rule of law and technology have decreased the number of times men must resort to force to protect those they love. This erroneously leads some people to say the manly role of guardian or protector is no longer needed. Conversely, advances in technology have made housework easier and less time consuming and this has made a woman's role nurturer/caretaker seem less important. Again, I question that assumption to some extent - I've never been able to understand how a vacuum cleaner can replace a mother and teacher. Either way, it's an interesting premise that offers a more comprehensive explanation for some of the changes we're dealing with.

As the first in a series of questions for The Womanliness Project, we're looking at the competing visions of femininity/womanliness. Rather than just begin listing my own set of qualities, I thought it might be interesting to survey writings from various sources and cultures to see what common elements exist. Here is a summary of what I found:


Here are the qualities that appeared in at least two sources:

1. Honest/Trustworthy
2. Loyal
3. Devout
4. Humble
5. Generous/Compassionate
6. Chaste
7. Obedient
8. Industrious

There are some other common threads I saw repeatedly:

Men are active. Women are passive.
Men are hot. Women are cold.
(oddly, considering the previous entry) Men are rational. Women are emotional.
Men are aggressive. Women are gentle/loving.
Men are arrogant/egotistical. Women are humble/self-effacing.
Men's virtues are internal (character). Women's virtues are on the surface (looks).
Men lead. Women serve or follow.
Men are strong. Women are weak.
Men are just. Women are kind.

The idea that men are the standard and women are incomplete/inferior beings seems to be attributed to Aristotle. Plato, on the other hand, seems to have thought men and women equally capable of guardianship and believed they should receive the same education and training.

The two strongest components running through nearly every source I read were:

1. The expectation that a woman's role is to serve, to submit, to be docile and biddable.

2. The expectation that women uphold the moral and religious teachings of a society. I think this is an interesting contrast to much of what I read from modern men, in which any attempt to fulfill this role is viewed as being "controlling".

Call me old fashioned, but across cultures and time periods I saw something interesting: yes, women were expected to submit and serve men. But women were also expected to be the moral teachers, the upholders of faith and virtue. That role was valued, not denigrated. Women may not have had formal power in the sense of being able to force their will upon others, but their ability to influence others was greatly prized. That's a different kind of power. It is indirect, but it is power nonetheless.

How do we reconcile this with the views expressed by so many men today - that any attempt by a woman to appeal to virtue or uphold traditional morals is viewed as malign and undesireable?

Is it possible that men are more willing to submit to this kind of influence if woman submit to/obey them? Not an easy question, I realize, and one that will require us to be respectful and careful if we discuss it. One other thing I noticed is that the more modern sources seem to have muted the "obedience/submissiveness" aspect of the ideal woman. She is no longer docile and obedient, but calm, supportive, and loyal.

Interesting, no?

Since my husband is deployed and I have no one to talk with in the evenings or on weekends, I have been watching a lot of old movies this year. I can't help noticing that Hollywood's ideal women are pretty spunky and snarky. They definitely hold their own with men, but in a very feminine way. This made me think of a quote from the movie Dune:

That which submits, rules.

This is not to say that these women "rule" the men; only that they very often prevail by appearing to submit. In the far east one would call this allowing your opponent to save face. A related idea I've found interesting is found in Marine Corps culture. Marines are arguably the strictest of the services in requiring immediate submission to authority and near universal compliance with rules and regulations. One might think this would produce a crop of mindless yes-men and women, but that's exactly the opposite of what has happened.

I've noticed when my husband has served in joint billets that Marines of all ranks are characteristically more outspoken and more likely to question any proposal put forward by a senior. This causes the other services to view Marines as combative or even insubordinate at times, but this is a misunderstanding. I think Marines allow each other more latitude precisely because eventual obedience is taken for granted. In other words, a culture that seems outwardly repressive or authoritarian actually allows people more freedom to speak up. Disagreement is less of a threat because it is simply disagreement, not insubordination.

And I think that's a better system. Again, I wonder if - due to our differences - men aren't more willing to accept the influence of women who present a soft and yielding aspect? I have certainly found this to be true in my career. Often I've been brought into situations where the men were butting heads; where disagreement had morphed into something of a pissing contest. By being completely disinterested in "beating" anyone, I have been able to calm everyone down and get them to work together. I've found, also, that I seem to be able to say things that my male co-workers can't or won't (for instance, telling a client, "Why would we do that? It's not in our interest from a business standpoint." and the clients didn't take offense because they were able to understand that they'd do precisely the same in our place. My directness freed them up to talk about their own interests more directly and we were able to negotiate from there. But for some reason, my male co-workers wouldn't say no openly (and for what it's worth I trust their judgment - maybe that would be perceived as a challenge or seem combative coming from a man?).

At any rate, here is my list of virtues I think are more typically/traditionally feminine (though men certainly possess them also):

1. A strong concern for doing the right thing/playing by the rules/coloring within the lines. I think men are more likely to take risks, challenge the status quo, think outside the box. Women in general seem more likely to stop and read the directions first, to try to fit into whatever framework they find themselves in. They seem less likely to challenge authority figures, though I think we're actually more likely to voice concerns when we have them, possibly because we don't view the process as a challenge to authority.

2. Compassion/empathy. Being able to step outside your own position and see a situation from the other person's point of view.

3. Humility.

4. Seeing the larger picture. Men are really good at classifying things and focusing. That's a huge strength when there's a need to prioritize or when immediate action is required. Women, on the other hand, seem to be able to see the connections between things; to realize how changes in one area affect other areas. This is valuable when looking at long term strategy or assessing the potential consequences of a course of action.

5. Understanding human nature. This is not the same as empathy because understanding human nature can sometimes make one less likely to indulge/tolerate certain behaviors. I think women pay more attention to relationships between people and devote more time to understanding how different people think. This is, like most traits, is both a strength and a weakness. If you worry too much about how people will react, you get lost in the weeds and become ineffective. But if you ignore other people's feelings, you may needlessly antagonize them or might not notice anything is wrong until it's too late to fix it.

Before everyone jumps all over me with anecdotal examples of women who are not like this, I'm not saying that these are qualities all women possess, but more that they are tendencies in women that we tend to think of as good/valuable/feminine. And again (because I can't think of a single time I've written anything positive about women when I haven't been deluged with "Why won't you admit that women act badly sometimes!!!"), we're not talking about the faults of women here, but only about female virtues.

The focus here is not to say that women are better than men. I don't believe that and no reasonable construction of anything I've written over the past 6 years supports such a conclusion. This is a NARROW discussion focused on identifying qualities we admire or value in women.

And with that... release the hounds (as a certain penis-having blogger is wont to say)!

Update: via Glenn Reynolds (that veritable feast of manliness) comes this fantastic essay on manliness. I realize we're talking about which qualities make a good woman here, but I'd like to highlight this part of the essay in which the author identifies manly virtues:

* Loyalty
* Industry
* Resiliency
* Resolution
* Personal Responsibility
* Self-Reliance
* Courage
* Integrity
* Sacrifice

The Art of Manliness is exactly what I hope the Womanliness Project will become - an affirmation of the ethos of personal responsibility, virtue and maturity for women that recognizes the unique contributions both men and women make to society.

Must read essay with generous support for Attila's "be a grownup" approach.

Posted by Cassandra at January 22, 2010 07:34 PM

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"How do we reconcile this with the views expressed by so many men today - that any attempt by a woman to appeal to virtue or uphold traditional morals is viewed as a malign influence?"

Selfishness. It is viewed as malign because morality, in and of itself, requires delayed
or denied gratification until certain conditions
are met. This holds true for both men and women.

I might also add that once men are past a certain age in some religious groups, the moral/spiritual teaching of them falls to men. I
say that in the context of worship services. I am
unsure about the home, but it would stand to reason that once a boy is considered a man, his
father takes over, or his moral and spiritual
teaching is considered complete.

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2010 01:12 PM

Speaking as the resident Aristotelian, I'll start: Aristotle was basically right about almost everything, but he was basically wrong about women. I'm not sure why; but it's not that unusual to find a man who can get everything else but "women" right.

The Church, which has been the chief source of commentary on Aristotle in the last two thousand years, has abandoned his view on women entirely. It's one of the few items -- it may be the only item! -- of his philosophy that has been entirely and completely written off by those who have followed him.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2010 01:15 PM

In deed. The Baha'i faith's wisdom run deep.

Posted by: Boquisucio at January 23, 2010 01:21 PM

Now: I shall speak, not as an Aristotelian, but as a man. What do I admire in a woman?

I have said: charm, grace, easy manners. That is to say that I admire just what these have admired: the quality of women who hold up the world, who make society a place where we can all be comfortable and can work together.

I would add, in the private sphere, that I want a woman who will love me: who will love me, and forgive me for being what I am. I seem to have gotten that. I don't quite understand it, just as Aristotle didn't really understand what he was looking at. It is so, however.

Normally 'forgiving me for being what I am' is something we ask only of God. Of God, and woman: of a particular woman, I mean. That, too, is important. It is singular.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2010 01:30 PM

That's an extremely important point, Grim. I think in many ways that is the mismatch - that female virtues are more applicable on an individual basis (known/trusted associates, friends, family) while male virtues are more useful when dealing with strangers/the world at large - IOW, in situations where there is no natural affection or trust.

It's not a question of which is the better approach across the board, but of which is best suited to the situation at hand?

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2010 01:34 PM

'forgiving me for being what I am'

I think this is a very powerful male need, and moreover that it's what's behind the "that's the way I'm wired". I don't have a problem with that sentiment if it means, "Don't hate me for my nature or for feelings/drives I can't help having."

What I do think is important is that while that's a legitimate request, I don't believe it excuses us for acting out every whim or urge. Where I have a problem with that particular phrase is where it is implied that we must accept every action because after all, "it's natural". I can think of lots of actions which are perfectly natural but which we normally expect adults to exert at least some control over :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2010 01:45 PM

My intention is not to say that men deserve to be forgiven. Rather, it is to draw a line between women and God on this particular point. It is only of God and women that we dare to ask for grace.

Perhaps we might ask it of very great men: to pardon is the right of kings alone.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2010 01:52 PM

By the way: this is a fine bit of work. Looking at the stories of several traditions is just what seems right.

Posted by: Grim at January 23, 2010 02:01 PM

My intention is not to say that men deserve to be forgiven.

As someone who is often puzzled by men but loves them desperately and dearly, allow me to say that men seem to me to feel guilty about things when there is no need. Perhaps this is a valuable way of exercising self-restraint?

I have noticed over the years that men will take some light remark from women as criticism when the woman meant no such thing. I think maybe this happens when it touches on a place where a man's mind/morals/compassion conflict with his basic drives or nature.

Maybe the increased variation to be found in male behavior means men need to be more vigilant over their own behavior? All of which is not to say we ladies don't need to exercise self control - most notably over our tongues, which can do great harm to man even when we mean none and indeed are grieved to find we've caused pain or distress?

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2010 02:12 PM

1. I am a rule-follower. Generally speaking, I avoid risky behavior (referring to a comment on the other thread, I was never really a tree-climber). I don't wish to make waves, unnecessarily, though I will, on occasion, speak up.

2. As for compassion/empathy, I think often times, I have been a push-over. I will acquiesce to another's wishes to avoid a fight (like not sitting next to one of the groomsman at the rehearsal dinner when he'd invited me to take that seat after my best friend who was in attendance from out of town (and whom I'd not seen for nearly five years) started to get whiny about me sitting at a table with her (there was a problem with seating because the restaurant did not reserve the entire area that had been agreed upon when arranging the dinner...).

3. I hope I exhibit proper humility. While I do like to be given kudos for things I've done well, I generally try not to draw attention to myself/be the center of attention.

4. I can see "the big picture", but I don't know that it is all the time/more often than not. I guess it would depend on what that picture was, and how familiar I might already with it, or aspects of it.

5. I know others are much better at tapping into the basics of human nature. I question my own knack for this.

I think this list, even though I don't think I match up to all the point (as you noted not all women would), is a good start.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 23, 2010 02:44 PM

Penis-having blogger here. I would agree with 1, 2, 3, and 5, but am not so sure I subscribe to the claim that women see the "big picture." I respectfully submit that if that were true women would be great strategists. I have not seen that either in business or in law. Rather, the women seem to be tremendously effective at execution -- they get stuff done, and often do the work of several men at their level. But do they make the really interesting intuitive leaps that steal a march on the competition or surprise the adversary? I have rarely seen it. Indeed, I have a number of exceedingly bright women reporting to me who do a phenomenal job in their assigned roles, but rarely are they good at seeing outside their assignment to the bigger picture. I think part of the reason is that they are such dedicated rule-followers they are less willing to allow their professional judgment to stray into the unconventional or counterintuitive (perhaps out of concern that it would take them some rule-breaking place).

Now, to be clear, most men have no strategic sense either. But of the people in the business world, at least, who make great strategic leaps, in my experience almost all of them are men.

My two bits. Being a penis-haver, I am ever prepared to be wrong.

Posted by: TigerHawk at January 23, 2010 03:35 PM

I was reading your post again, and I found another nugget. Your comment about going in and getting people to work together as a team got me thinking about the family relationships in terms of unity.

Posted by: Cricket at January 23, 2010 03:36 PM

Actually I do not diaagree with you regarding women being "great strategists". I think perhaps I expressed myself poorly.

The ability to see the big picture isn't necessarily the same as the ability to chart a course. In my view, the 'big picture' ability I am talking about tends to make one a better advisor than perhaps a leader. That is what I meant about the ability to see the big picture being useful in evaluating, preparing, or assessing a strategy, but not necessarily in originating it.

However, not possessing a penis, I am eternally humble and also prepared to be wrong :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2010 04:22 PM

Another thought here re: that big picture thingy.

I think women tend to be better at details and at seeing how different people or groups will be affected by a given event or plan. But I don't think we tend to be as good at visualizing systems (at least in general) as men are.

I also think that NOT being able to see the effect of a plan on individuals is a great advantage as that kind of acute awareness tends to inhibit decisive action.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2010 04:38 PM

The 'men are hot, women are cold' bit, I believe, comes from humoral medicine, which began roughly with the Hippocratic corpus and died out in the 19th century (though it was contested earlier) as new medical theories arose. IIRC, all of the humoral qualities were emotional, so 'cold' in this respect doesn't necessarily mean lacking emotion, but being more introverted or quiet, while 'hot' meant more extroverted or active.

Posted by: tom at January 23, 2010 04:56 PM

Ah. That makes more sense to me! Thank you.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2010 05:00 PM

Cass, you raise a great many interesting points. I am still reflecting on a number of them. One thing did stand out very clearly for me, however, and that was the idea of indirect influence. I definitely agree with you on this point.

In political terms, this was often referred to as the "power behind the throne". Think Cardinal Richelieu instead of the King of France. The "eminence grise" as the french called it. The king had all the overt power, but the Cardinal is the one who had all the influence.

I think women can excell in this kind of indirect influence role, and have often done so throughout history. Couple this with the Oriental idea of "saving face", and you have a very workable system whereby the woman can wield as much, if not more, power than her man.

In general, any man who has a pair does not respond well to direct confrontation or challenge. Among men, this type of conduct or "fighting words" is almost always seen as a direct challenge to position, authority, respect, etc. and will lead to violence. It is seen as a disrespect or insult to the position or status of the man being challenged.

When done by a woman, a man is frustrated by an inability to use his instinctive violent response to such a challenge. When done by your own woman, this disrespect is particularly humiliating and, if done in public, the shame and loss of face can be extreme.

This only occurs, however, if the woman challenges her man OVERTLY. If she is wise, she will do so indirectly. The man usually won't see this as a disrespectful act or challenge to his authority, and lets him obey his woman's wishes without losing any face. By acknowledging his authority on the surface, a woman let's her man feel respected, and his appreciation for her respectful gesture will usually make him more receptive to her wishes.

I know this works on me for sure. I recently had dinner with a group of friends which included 2 ex-girlfriends. As we were exchanging funny stories about past events, the 2 exes started arguing about me. The first said I was as stubborn and mule-headed as a Taurus could be. She said I never would agree with anything she said or did. The second laughed and said I was a total pushover that she had wrapped around her finger. They were both correct.

The first ex was the type of woman that made everything an "in your face" type of overt challenge. I don't respond well to that approach, so the more she demanded, the more I dug my heels in and refused. Our fights were quite volcanic, because the irresistable force was trying to move the immovable object.

The second ex was smart enough to approach me indirectly, so there was no challenge or fight. I hadn't realized it at the time, but looking back now I am amazed at how she pretty much got her way all the time just by being kind and respectful. Even looking back now with hindsight and realizing I was being somewhat manipulated doesn't really bother me much. I think I would always prefer being approached indirectly, rather than challenged directly.

I hadn't really thought about this much, until reading your post, Cass. I found this post very thought-provoking and insightful. Kudos to you!

Posted by: a former european at January 23, 2010 05:34 PM

As a Taurus (stubborn earth sign) married to a Capricorn (downright immovable earth sign), I almost never challenge my husband directly :p

I'm not so sure the perceptive girlfriend was manipulating you. She was just smart enough to recognize that the way you perceive things matters just as much as her intentions toward you. You probably wouldn't make a decision against your self interest no matter how kind or respectful she was - it was more a matter of not antagonizing you up front.

At least that's the way I look at interactions with my husband.

One of my foibles is hating to be told what to do. My husband has learned over the years to respect my need for autonomy, and as a result even though I HATE being told what to do, if something is important to him and I disagree I'll usually accede to his wishes. Kind of a tit for tat, but in a nice way :)

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2010 05:46 PM

When done by your own woman, this disrespect is particularly humiliating and, if done in public, the shame and loss of face can be extreme.

I couldn't agree more, afe. I see women do this all the time and it makes me nuts.

I think perhaps some of them don't understand what they're doing because women are far less likely to interpret disagreement as a challenge or as disrespect. Men have more boundaries than women - we sometimes trespass without meaning to because if we love someone we tend to want to sweep all the boundaries away. I have always thought that's a mistake. To me, true intimacy requires some preservation of (or respect for) privacy, oddly enough. That's what allows you to let the other person get close - trust that they won't push that privilege too far.

But hey, that's just me :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 23, 2010 05:52 PM

About that list...you left out "thrifty, brave, clean and reverent".

Oh, wait... ;-)

Posted by: camojack at January 24, 2010 01:21 AM

Thank you for not fading into the blogosphere yet, I generally find something to ponder in what you allude to. I also appreciate your humor. Pondering is always good; it forces one to examine beliefs, thus strengthening or undermining, if done properly.
I think women have a historical predisposition to submissive; it’s what has gone before, what most of us (ahem, mature) women have grown up with and seen modeled within their own family structure. Fast Forward to now, I see girls (high school) still have remnants. They are bright & capable but unsure as to how to best proceed. I think society still sees women in a slightly subservient role while proclaiming equality. I think girls are confused. Equality seems to come with STRIDENT, DEMANDING, FORCEFUL, etc. I don’t think a lot of girls want to stand with these adjectives. It doesn’t seem to get them where they want to go, yet they haven’t quite perfected the ability to manipulate ‘with grace’. Many come from divorce & experience the disharmony that accompanies it, irrespective of the causative factor or moral high ground.
I think you (& the penis having blogger) are spot on with the bigger picture analogy. Men tend to see the bigger picture more clearly, razor sharp, if you will. They can create a strategy based decision in a heartbeat. Women don’t do this as readily. They get caught up in pre & post concerns, the human toll, logistics, & morality etc. I think, as you point out, this hampers decision making but is really useful in implementation & clean up.
I also think Grim has it exactly right with forgiveness.
Dr Helen has a great discussion re: relationships today (http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2010/01/mr-right-has-left-building.html ) that I think fits right in with this & describing “a generation left unchallenged” in the comments.

Posted by: Sherryl HixsonHertica at January 24, 2010 12:59 PM


I find the constant woman bashing over there hard to stomach. I don't find male bashing any easier to take. Both are unbalanced.

I find the bitterness and hatred over there really disturbing. I have found from talking to readers here at VC that apparently I live in some kind of bubble where most married folks are actually happy and like each other. Go figure :p

Both my sons are in their late 20s. Both found lovely, intelligent, hard working wives who treat them with love and respect and pull their own weight. Contrary to what you read over there, both my DILs have more education than my sons. But my sons are men and act like men.

If they have a problem with their wives, they work it out. They don't put up with the kind of treatment Dr. Helen's commenters describe and frankly I can't imagine either of them ever doing so. My sons expect to be treated with honor and respect and treat their wives the same way. Reciprocity is

So I don't get it. I don't know any young women like the ones described over there - women who expect to be treated like fairy princesses. Women who view men as a meal ticket.

I can't imagine either of my sons marrying such a woman or even dating her. They have too much self respect. But also, they steered clear of women who were pretty but had no character.

In some ways I think we've failed both young men and women these days. I was a stay at home Mom and I can testify to spending MAJOR amounts of time taking to my boys about live and love and the importance of character. A lot of it they tuned out (being teens). But once they left home I realized that they'd been listening far more than I gave them credit for.

I wrote an essay a long time ago about a conversation I had with a boy at college. It was one of the most depressing experiences of my life.

He clearly didn't like women much - he railed on and on about how "most girls" were selfish, spoiled, petulant, grasping and materialistic. And then he proceeded to tell me that he couldn't wait to get married and have a little girl!

He told me that he wanted to spoil her - give her everything she wanted in life. He saw no irony in this. I pointed out that such a girl would grow up to be exactly the kind of girl he hated - spoiled, shallow, greedy. And he agreed. In his view, it was all about what he wanted, not about what would be good for his daughter or for society.

What can you do with people like that? Character does not matter to them - only what is superficial. I very much fear that a selfish and self absorbed generation of parents - my generation - is raising a selfish and self absorbed crop of kids.

But there are good parents and good kids out there too. My sons had no trouble finding and marrying good women. So I can't quite understand the doom and gloom.

But then as has so often been pointed out to me, my family and friends and pretty much everyone I associate with are weird and atypical :p

Posted by: Cassandra at January 24, 2010 02:12 PM

It's hard to like someone else when one doesn't like themselves.

Self-esteem was advertised as a solution. But it didn't make people feel good. It just upped their self-deception rating.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at January 24, 2010 02:47 PM

I'm sorry.

That came out way more negatively than I meant it to. I was up all last night and I'm tired and a bit discouraged today.

I think what upsets me so much over there is not that some of these folks have so obviously had bad experiences, but that they seem willing to give up or generalize to everyone from what happened to them.

I guess it makes me wonder: is everyone in their circle equally angry and bitter? It's pretty upsetting to see fathers teaching their sons that women are faithless and worthless and marriage isn't "worth it". I could understand wanting your child to benefit from your experience, but why not teach your sons to insist upon character in a woman instead of assuming that it doesn't exist?

Posted by: Cassandra at January 24, 2010 02:48 PM

It's hard to like someone else when one doesn't like themselves.

Ymar, as usual you've nailed it. That's what comes across to me over there. And several of the commenters have voiced their intention to not even try to be the kind of man who would attract a worthwhile woman.

That's a hopeless, sad place to be and it breaks my heart.

Posted by: Cassandra at January 24, 2010 02:50 PM

"That's a hopeless, sad place to be and it breaks my heart."
I believe that each generation learns from the mistakes of the one before. The "Greatest Generation" learned much from the Depression era generation. In their love and dedication to their children, they over indulged their children so that those children never had to know the hardship that the "Greatest Generation" knew.

The boomers, being over indulged, continued in their self-centeredness, having known little else, which resulted in their children resenting the selfishness of their parents. Their parents attempts to be friends, at the expense of being parents, along with the slathering of material goodies in lieu of spending time, giving selfless love, and providing boundaries produced much anger, resentment and rebellion on our young folk.

I say this after rearing two young'uns, and having seen, heard from, and witnessed so many young folk, spawn of the boomers, say the same. Young folk who seem to be more in sync with the "Greatest Generation" than with the mores of their boomer parents.

Now all of that is nothing more than the opinion of an aging boomer. And it is a broad-brushed opinion at that. But it is my opinion of the good and bad to be found in the people of this nation.

In addition, I suspect that we all recognize our instant media's propensity to pander to the demand for gratification over accuracy and substance. This theme, or message, only serves to amplify the negative and the sensational. Factoring that into the mix, it may not be as bad as all that.

One last bubbaism: there is truth behind the snarky saying of sometimes a life proves to be little more than a warning to others. This seems to apply to generations as well as individuals.

IOW, keep the faith M'lady. Keep the faith.

Posted by: bt_NeanderthalsЯus_hun at January 24, 2010 04:06 PM

I think to find the Good Woman it becomes easier if you weed out the Bad Woman. This is an elephant in the room, and I am almost astounded that it is not addressed until I realize something.

According to modern definitions, to be "judgmental" is "not nice."

So move outside the comfort zone, and shoot at the other side of the target, to wit:

What is a bad woman? What kind of behavior would it take for you to say "That is Beyond the Pale. Your "Lady" card is hereby revoked. You have acted in such a deplorable fashion such that to continue to number you among us, and accord you the protections of a Lady, diminshes the term, and all of us who do the hard work of being a lady."

By way of illustration, when I was little, my grandmother would often watch al us grandkids, and one day my cousin was exceptionally mean to her little brother, until finally her hit her back. She immediately burst into tears and complained to Gran about Chris "hitting a girl!"

My grandmother's response was short and arch, to wit: "Young Miss, you have not behaved like a lady, so you have no room to complain about not being treated as one."

Just one guy's opinion, but from where I stand, until you draw that line, there is no way to determine who stands where.

Posted by: peter dane at January 26, 2010 11:04 AM