“I ain’t no fucken lady.”

I’ve used this expression in good humour quite a few times over the past decade or so, mostly in response to a friendly and harmless comment from a male colleague or acquaintance along the lines of, “Goodnight, ladies” at the end of a day’s work, or at a function etc.

Mostly they laugh in a taken aback kind of way, or are horrified – or both, but one reaction overrules the other. And it’s a simple thing. I usually say, “to be a lady is a cultural construct, and I just don’t fit it: wrong breeding and basically just wrong behaviour. Woman I may be; lady I am not,” by which time the man involved is thinking, “Oh shit, how do I get out of this one.”

I don’t mean to offend any men, and I’m not offended by it, and it’s not a rabid feminist thing (I do shave under my arms). As I said today to the latest poor fellow to cop my load, so to speak, “Don’t worry about it, it’s my issue, not yours.”

But the interesting thing is that I used to work with a guy who I could banter with on an intellectual level on all kinds of things, including gender politics, but when HE did the ol’ “Goodnight, ladies” and I delivered my retort, it really floored him. HIS cultural upbringing overpowered his intellectual reasoning and he just couldn’t cope with it at all. I still think he thinks I’m an irrational female on that one – and perhaps (just perhaps) he’s right – but the point’s there to be made, and I make it.

Occasionally I’ve said it to women as well. Some get it, and it’s usually the ones of a certain age and a certain exposure to feminism /cultural studies / dickheads.

Often I get back – from both men and women – “so what CAN I call you then without offending you? Guys? Gals?” (and variants aplenty). You know what I tell ’em?

“How about my name. My name is just fine.”

Makes perfect fucken sense to me.

Published by JB

When I'm not writing I'm doing paid work in Communications or International Relations, being mum to two teenage boys, attempting to maintain a reasonable marriage, and constantly adjudicating the battle between my inner feminist and inner domestic goddess, goddammit.

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1 Comment

  1. I agree with your views – it can be fun to see the reaction.What hope have you got of being a lady eh? with your parents!In my experience – a “lady” is something that hangs off the arm of a gentleman – a kind of mobile handbag. And most difficult of all – to be a lady requires being with a gentleman!BTW did you mean “floored”? instead of it really “flawed” him


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