Saturday, February 24, 2007

Parenting, The South Park Way


If you have any worries about how to teach your children proper discipline, the "Tsst" episode of South Park will take all your worries away. SwingDaddy had the TV on while I was doing a little work the night before last, and we haven't laughed that hard in a long time. First, a little digression.

Mary P's wrote a post today that brought two topics to mind. One was her discussion of the word "ladylike," because I'd also used the word recently. She has some great thoughts about how it was meant to encourage girls to be tidy, pretty, and modest, but that she much prefers to be a woman, emphasizing self-ownership instead of fitting someone else's definition. Ladylike, or acting like a lady, is often about appearances to others.

In the mid-nineteenth century, when Queen Victoria was young, many aspects of moving like a lady in the ballroom were not so different from that of a gentleman. Both required graceful and light carriage, with years of dance training from childhood. Artwork from the era shows that the men also aspired to have hourglass figures, with gently sloping shoulders and nipped waists. Alas, social status and power was primarily owned by men, the Queen notwithstanding.

One of the aspects I enjoy about vintage dance is theatrically re-creating the beautiful things of ages past – the exquisite movement, fanciful clothes, good manners – while ignoring pretty much everything we don't like. I am the producer and co-director of our shows, instead of being subordinate to my husband. Men and women alike work out to maintain strength and athleticism. Knee braces are worn under the delicate petticoats where necessary. I like to think of it as the best way to be ladies. We get to be pretty, but we pull our weight, every ounce.

Mary P's main point was actually about being a "Strong Mommy," one with compassion and a backbone. It's an excellent post about how being a doormat for your children's needs isn't doing them any favors, and you can read it here.

And if it's been a tough day, you might want to watch the South Park episode as well (synopsis here). The mother of the bratty character Cartman despairs over her son's antics and invites Nanny 911 and Super Nanny to teach him to behave. Cartman defeats both of them, but is finally brought to obedience by the Dog Whisperer, who teaches his mom that she is the alpha dog in the house. Frighteningly offensive? Yes, and really, really funny, as is the way of South Park.

* Thanks to Solo Mom and Mary P for identifying my mystery word as "NOTwithstanding." Thank you, "nonewithstanding" was driving me nuts!


Kimberly said...

It's "NOTwithstanding," Lady M.

Mary P's post was spot on--I call the phenomenon "Baroness VonMommy" and I even have the t-shirt. That South Park episode is gold.

MaryP said...

Interesting post.

I like your point about vintage dance offering you the best of both worlds - the prettiness, the extravagant femininity, without the subservience and other restrictions on your character.

Which is why some of the aspects of "ladylike" are all right - just not the whole package.

(And that word? You must mean "notwithstanding", which you will find in a dictionary!)

Mamacita Tina said...

I so hope my TiVo still has that episode of South Park, I could use a good laugh.

As for being ladylike, I think I'm more for portraying who we are as individuals, rather than trying to portray some image society "deems" best.

I'm heading over to read Mary P.'s post.

Jill said...

I love South Park, lol. As for the word ladylike, it makes me think prim and proper. Or of my little girls right after their baths before they've had a a chance to get all mucked up.

Jenny said...

Offensive or not, Southpark rocks.

Also, for me, being a lady is all about setting others at ease and thinking about others first.

Screw being quiet and demure.

Lady M said...

Kimberly and Mary P - NOTwithstanding, thank you! That was driving me nuts.

Mamacita Tina, Jill, and Jenny - Strong Mommies watch South Park, for certain!

Mir said...

Okay, great points of your post aside, how much do I love that photo??? You look like your legs go all the way up to your NECK. You're so gorgeous. (Having a lifetime of being uncomfortable with my body behind me, I'm completely drawn to folks who obviously can make their bodies move however they want, effortlessly.)

YF said...

Your post is good timing.. at Fi's party, someone said for her to take "lady bites". I am not sure how that fits in w/ the discussion here, but I know that I don't want to teach Fi to be ladylike in the way that was done traditionally... for sure.

Mayberry said...

Love the picture of you! and the thoughts on "ladylike."

wayabetty said...

Wow! What a great dance move and you looked FAB in that costume. One of my favorite era in history, queens and kings.