The latest, and probably last, post from Philip Livingstone on the blog Old Thoughts from One Irish Countryman got me thinking about my thoughts on being a gentleman.
I once could be quoted as saying that, “there was a time when a gentleman smoked a pipe,” but I think I misrepresented myself. You see, “gentleman” implies a certain level of caste or class, just as lady has certain implications of “soft, weak, or somehow inferior.” It shouldn’t, but it does. How many times have you heard a feminist go off because somebody called her a lady? Well the same can be said of the term “gentleman.”
Gentleman implies being of the gentle class as opposed to “simpleman” being of the simple class, otherwise known as the common class. To say, “that man is a gentleman,” implies that he is somehow superior to the common man, who, in the time that this phrase was coined, was often seen as boorish and usually seen as uneducated, read “stupid!”
As long as we are aware of these connotations, the word is harmless. Indeed, any word is harmless so long as you are aware of all the connotations of the word. This is a trick of the English language, that we have many words that mean slightly similar things, but each word, in and of itself, means something different.
So, I think now, in the modern age, when we refer to somebody as a gentleman we are not saying that he is of the gentle class, that is to say “landed gentry”, we are saying that he has good manners, we are saying that he has good breeding, we are saying that he has character, but we are also saying he is better than the average man.
Indeed, we seldom use the term Gentry anymore, most in North America wouldn’t know what that word meant if you did use it, and the common man hardly ever refers to the gentle class which, in monarchies, is still prevalent, and in republics like the United States, assumes money. Further, I believe that the common man when referring to gentlemen would seriously wish that most of the gentle class did not exist, which is another reason why feminists don’t like to be referred to as ladies. Referring to them as ladies insinuates an adherence to that patriarchy.
Now, before anybody gets a rope, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Quite to the contrary, I think it’s a good thing to be better than the average man in today society. The average man listens to misogynistic rap music, and refers to women as bitches and whores. The average man would not give up his seat on the bus to an old lady with a walker. The average man threatens an older, more middle-aged man, for no reason aside from to make himself look big. In other words, the average man in today’s society is generally seen as boorish, uneducated, and stupid. So who wouldn’t want to be seen as superior to that?
So referring to somebody as a gentleman, is still the same thing as being an elitist who is claiming that a person is better than another person.
But in the immortal words of the misogynist rapper Watsky, “I don’t give a fuck!”
Actually, I couldn’t give less of one! If referring to myself as a “gentleman” means that I am some sort of an elitist snob, who set himself as better than the common man, I say GOOD! If I refer to you as a gentleman, I am saying that you are better than the common man , and you should see it as a good thing. If I refer to you as a lady, I am NOT saying that you are weak, or somehow inferior, or prescribing to the patriarchy. Quite the contrary in this society, if I refer to you as a lady. I am saying, that you are independent, strong and quite superior to the common woman, and you conduct yourself with poise and grace.
Ladies and gentlemen, be elitist with me, let’s be better than the common man (or woman). Let’s be worthy of being a lady or a gentleman. And if I ever referred to you as a lady or a gentlemen, consider yourself complemented, and if I haven’t to this point, I probably tagged you in this post.
Smoke em if you got em!