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March 17, 2010



I read your post and think it is amazing. I agree that manners are stronger than regular strength. It shows, as you said, respect. In modern times we do alot of "celebrating" differences but the fact that men and women are in fact different gets lost in the shuffle.

Frankly, in all the equality, boys and girls can be bad. If boys grow up being taught girls are just like they are - it only makes sense they will treat them just as aggressively as they treat other boys. and that's just silly. (ok maybe silly is the wrong word)

I would like to say Thank You, Latin teacher for helping turn the tide toward respect.


And thank you 'women's studies student.' One of the most intelligent blogs I have read in a long time.


Your post reminds me of something I read in a book of essays on marriage/family/homemaking just the other day. The author realized that when she insisted that she could do things herself, her husband...quit doing them. The next thing she knew, he was on the couch and she was doing all the work. I think there's something to be learned there!

I think you're correct about the problems with treating men and women as if they're exactly the same. The fact is, we aren't just the same, and without societal constraints and duties towards women, men will all too often act brutishly and without constraint--and then women lose. Maybe a truly civilized society partly depends on male respect for women?

Liz Bartlett

It would be lovely if the next trend was to be men treating women with a more traditional etiquette. I am sure it would diminish some of the aggressive feelings and actions you described. While it is great that the Latin teacher was teaching this to his students, I also believe women need to start educating men.. I have noticed that when men marry women...they improve. Because the woman educates their man on how to behave. If men want to please women shouldn't women be the ones guiding the men as to how? I feel like these days men are just guessing or have already given up and it's not entirely their fault.

Chaya leah Apter

Firstly I just want to thank the womens studies student for posting this blog. I thought it was fresh and very relevant to so many issues we have to deal with in our society. At first I thought that the article was just focusing on getting men to treat women better and to not be violent against them, but after reading the actual article I realized how much more there was to it. I believe that something so small as what Ivanyi, this teacher is trying to teach these kids ( a few old school lessons on etiquette) can have a huge impact on them for the rest of their lives. As long as BOTH the boys and girls are learning some manners, this could build both their self esteems, prevent violence, build their social skills, and most importantly build there respect for one another. I think the common mistake we all make is that when we think of the fact that women and men are different, we mistake it for unequal. The truth is we are equal in that we all deserve the same amount of respect and I think this is what we need to concentrate on if we want to progress in equality. So if feminists criticize or do not agree with what Ivanyi is doing, then they might be missing what his actual point is. It is a slippery slope in that he must be careful not to undermine womens capabilities, but if his message is really just about respect then I see it as a good thing. And of course the classroom vibe will change.... how much better does it feel when you walk in to a room knowing all the people surrounding you are learning to respect each other. I just want to repeat again, AS LONG AS BOTH THE BOYS AND GIRLS ARE LEARNING MANNERS, I can only see good things to come from these teachings.

women's studies student

Thank you all for your comments!
And I really like your point, Chaya leah!
Both women and men should be constantly learning manners and the same level of respect for the opposite sex. My post is not about saying men should have more respect than women should have for men--but the manners should be geared to directly addressing the physical advantage that men have over women. what would be a good analogy for this? I think this might work:

In Judaism, the fifth commandment is to honor your parents. But why doesn't it say to honor your children in the ten commandments too??
It's not that a parent shouldn't have respect for their kids. Rather, the law addresses that since parents are constant givers, it's easier for children to take them and what they provide for granted. Therefore, there is an extra attention given to a child's honor for their parents in order to learn a respect that is stronger than their potential to take advantage of them. I hope that clears up the point a bit!


Great point. I think the other benefit of teaching manners to boys is to over come the prevalent "boys will be boys" attitude, that believes men are inherently reckless. Manners not only put boundaries on that behavior, but create an atmosphere where men are expected to behave politely and responsibly, and when they do not it is not it's not tacitly accepted as inevitable or innate.


This is so interesting and I love it because I have this weird fascination with Etiquette books, i actually collect them from all different eras.
While I hope it is the case that learning some old fashioned etiquette gives men a new, stronger respect for women, I wonder if it will really work. Back when these old fashioned etiquette practices were commonplace, were women really treated any better, meaning, was there less violence toward women back in the day? I truly don't know.
I love when people display good manners, and I hope learning them will strengthen men's respect towards women.

Robin Goodfellow

Wait a minute.

Liz, you know that not all men are boorish oafs, right? You may not mean it, but your tone comes off a tinge misandristic. I'm pretty sure that the woman I'll marry won't need to "educate" me. I'll value my wife enough that I'll improve as a man and husband simply to show her how much she means to me, and should think that she'd want to reciprocate the notion herself.

So I don't think your idea holds water the way you see it.

I also don't think women need to guide men. If that was the case, I'd hear of more women NOT enjoying being swept off their feet by a man who can lead them on the dance floor. And since courting is effectively dancing, I'm sticking to my dance logic. However, I'm not going to tell a lady how to be a lady, either. That would be patronizing. But she's welcome to ask me how I feel about things, and invite the same questions from me as well.

Basically, I feel how Chaya Leah has expressed things.

On a related note:

I always thought it would be cool if, in earlier grades, kids could have "courtship" classes, where they could learn how to value both sexes before their sex drives start to kick in.

Otherwise, it's kind of silly that young boys and girls know how reproduction works, way before they figure out how courtship does.


Great post!

Christopher Stavros

I only treat women with the same respect with which they treat me, and believe that just as women claim that having manners towards men is "oppression of women" I have no more an obligation to take lessons on "how men should behave" from them.

I will treat modern women like ladies if they once begin to act the part. From what I see now on the street -- and as no exception, from the self-entitled comments on this post -- no fear of that in the foreseeable future.

women's studies student


As you mentioned on a previous comment--I agree that men unfortunately have emotions beaten out of them starting from a very young age. But perhaps we should consider the fact that women often do not act like "ladies" because girls are taught from a young age to toughen up in order to compete against men for the rest of our lives. So maybe we should all just break the cycle, act like ladies and gentlemen regardless of how the rest of the world acts, and start a new trend?

When a man is not a gentlemen to me, I do not believe that pardons me from the responsibility to act like a lady. If a man is disrespectful, there is a way to politely respond to his ill-treatment, or to humbly excuse myself. Manners should not come into effect only when the world is kind. But our pride allows us to pretend that manners should be conditional. On the contrary however, manners are about having the ability to act modestly even when we have a potent desire to lash out.

I also agree with you that women should not necessarily teach men how to act and vice versa. But I do believe that neither gender should have to accept poor manners towards them. So the question is, why is it so hard to ever have a discussion about it? And why do we always become defensive when one begins to take place? I believe it's because it always become an issue of pride--something that should have nothing to do with manners.

Christopher Stavros

Now, if the lofty ideas you just expressed had been the content of the original post and of the comments, I would have had no qualms. However, with only a brief skim one may observe that this is not the case. So let what I wrote stand as a response to the general attitude which it was intended to address and may what you wrote be the new spirit of the discussion henceforth.

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