DEAR MISS MANNERS: Are you aware the use of word "lady" is sexist? One reason is that it refers to prostitution. I cringe when I hear congresspersons use the word ("congresslady," etc.).
I am also disenchanted when I see it from your readers and you don't point out the sexist connotation of the word. I believe you have used this term before and that got me to wonder if you have used it in addressing women.
I was not aware that it was a sexist word until I attended a business management class called "Women in Management." It was one of the best courses I have ever attended. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That it did a fine job of spreading sexism. Have you ever noticed how titles for females that start out as forms of respect, such as "mistress" and "madam," pick up smutty connotations, while the equivalent male ones, like "mister" and "sir," remain dignified?
Your attempt to besmirch the word "lady" suggests that you are no gentleman.
"Lady" and "gentleman" are used in place of "woman" and "man" when there is the intent to indicate respect, as when a speaker addresses his audience as "ladies and gentlemen," or refinement, as when the point is made that a certain person is "a real lady" or "always a gentleman."
Miss Manners, like Congress, keeps using it to encourage a high level of behavior even when it seems unlikely. She is not going to stop.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Thanksgiving was held at my sister's home with all the family. Most of the people there were disappointed in the preparation of the mashed potatoes and gravy. My sister decided since she was dieting, everyone would have to eat them that way.
I feel this is rude. I think she should also have had these foods made the natural way for people who did not want to eat diet versions.
When mentioning it to my sister, she didn't think she was rude at all, after all it's "her house" and she can do what she wants. I don't feel she has the right to make dieting decisions for others because she is dieting. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That it is not the mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes, however bad they may be, never rise to the dignity of being one of life's major disappointments.
Goodness knows that Miss Manners is used to hearing people use nonsensical pretexts for squabbling while claiming that they are only interested in upholding etiquette. There is no other explanation for the etiquette hysteria of people involved in weddings, when they show no previous or subsequent interest in the subject.
And that is another occasion of which it is often claimed that one person can do whatever she wants to do.
That is never quite right. The hostess should exercise her taste in doing the planning, but it should take into consideration what might please her guests. Guests are sometimes grateful that everything is not as fattening as possible, and you have not convinced Miss Manners that your sister knowingly palmed off something she knew would displease.
Nor have you told Miss Manners what the antagonism between you is really about.