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“There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.”—Judith “Miss Manners” Martin
“Miss Manners' solution to adjusting the conventional salutation to an age in which women are as likely to be in business as men, is to use 'Mesdames' or 'Dear Madam,' under the assumption that a well-run business is run by women. If she sends a letter of complaint, she uses 'Gentlemen' or 'Dear Sir.'”—Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin, published 1983
“One of the major mistakes people make is that they think manners are only the expression of happy ideas. There’s a whole range of behavior that can be expressed in a mannerly way. That’s what civilization is all about — doing it in a mannerly and not an antagonistic way. One of the places we went wrong was the naturalistic, Rousseauean movement of the Sixties in which people said, ”Why can’t you just say what’s on your mind?” In civilization there have to be some restraints. If we followed every impulse, we’d be killing one another.”—Miss Manners [Judith Martin], epigraph from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
“One of the major mistakes people make is that they think manners are only the expression of happy ideas. There's a whole range of behavior that can be expressed in a mannerly way. That's what civilization is all about--doing it in a mannerly and not an antagonistic way. One of the places we went wrong was the naturalistic Rousseauean movement of the Sixties in which people said, "Why can't you just say what's on your mind?" In civilization there have to be some restraints. If we followed every impulse, we'd be killing one another. ”—Miss Manners (Judith Martin)
“DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it acceptable for a girl to decline an invitation to a dance, only to later accept another invitation to the same dance? This is for a high school dance or prom.GENTLE READER: If you are the parent of a young gentleman to whom this has been done, Miss Manners can confirm that the young lady is indeed rude, and that however crushed your son is, he is better off. She would be capable of committing another rudeness, such as breaking the date later.”—That’s Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, suggesting that a young woman’s preferences, her agency and her knowledge about a boy don’t matter, if he asks her to prom, she has to say yes or she’s rude and unacceptable. She went on to say that the important issue here is that the boy never have his feelings hurt, and concluded with the straight up lie that the unpopular boys from high school magically turn into the most desirable adult men, implying, apparently, that girls should get in on the ground floor by accepting their invitations to prom. (And that the only reason why a girl might say no to a boy is because he’s insufficiently popular…)
An “advice” column is easy pickings for a blog like this, because so often the advice is silly, but this was actually jaw droppingly bad. The idea that girls and women are obligated to do whatever men demand of them and must ignore their own feelings and interests in order to fulfill the desires of men is an idea well past its sell-by date. Though Judith Martin may not realize it, no one is obligated to do something, especially not something as involved (and costly) as attending a prom just to spare someone else’s feelings. This is a horrible message to give to young women (and their parents) and could have potentially devastating results. Judith Martin should be ashamed.
And while she may feel it’s the absolute dernier cri of lacking etiquette, I must say: Miss Manners, STFU.