It’s been years since we’ve seen social standards such as gentlemen walking on the roadside when with a lady. It’s been years since we’ve seen social standards where a gentleman opens the door for a woman. It’s been years since smacks were given for children who don’t say please and thank you. It’s been years since people waited for everyone to sit before eating. It’s been years since the soupspoon was directed away from the closest bowl edge before eating.
So what on Earth happened?
When we grew up, most of these so-called social graces were around. We were taught them and if we didn’t learn we’d get smacked, caned or punished in one way or another. Our parents made sure we knew how to act socially appropriate and having well-mannered children was considered a very complimentary thing. The question I have is where along the lines from our bringing up to the children of today did things go wrong?
Perhaps it was us? We chose to make so many social customs redundant citing them as out-dated and unnecessary. Dressing for dinner became a thing of the past as we thought it was “over the top” and social etiquette became less important and instead intelligence became paramount.
A friend had a son who was very slightly autistic. He was very intelligent and while they encouraged their other children to use manners, their son was always exempt. Instead they allowed him to make the deliberate decision to call people names and steer clear of being polite.
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We’ve allowed other things to become more important than social etiquette. We’ve stopped seeing it as important at all. But what if we hadn’t? Would the world be a better place?
Placing sexism aside, social etiquette like opening a car door for a woman, standing on the road side with a woman, standing up when a woman enters a room and using polite language around women all taught men to respect a woman. Conversely, a woman learnt to expect these social graces from men and the relationship between men and women was built on respecting one another.
While the roles of men and women in relationships have now changed to be much more equal than they were when these societal norms formed, there is still room for manners like this.
Perhaps if more young men were taught to treat women this way, with this level of respect, there’d be less problems with domestic violence and abuse against women. While there isn’t any direct research on this, perhaps there should be.
So maybe it’s time we brought back proper social etiquette. Tell us, do you think we should try as a society to live the way we once did? Do you think it would benefit both men and women and prevent negative attitudes towards women? Share your thoughts in the comments below…