Author Topic: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???  (Read 10773 times)

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Knitterly

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Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« on: March 22, 2012, 08:03:33 AM »
I hope that's not blasphemous, but I was truly shocked by her answer in the Washington Post this morning.
Here's the article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/miss-manners-high-school-slights-can-last-a-lifetime/2012/03/01/gIQAzRvOSS_story.html

For those who may not be able to follow the link, let me sum up. 
Is it okay to turn down an invitation to a dance but accept a subsequent invitation to the same dance?

Miss Manners says No, and I could hardly believe it.

If a boy you do not like asks you to a dance, apparently a young lady's options are either to attend with him or not attend at all.  But what if the boy is rude, crude, dirty, a chauvenist, or someone the young lady genuinely does not wish to be seen with?  Is she really expected to forego the prom just because this young man asked her first and she cannot bear the thought of being his date for the evening?

I am hoping that I have misunderstood her and that the rule of etiquette is not really that a young lady must either attend with the first person to ask, even if he is utterly undesirable, or forego her prom entirely.

Yvaine

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2012, 08:16:01 AM »
I think this is based in a more old-fashioned style of holding a dance, where "going with" a person didn't mean being glued to their side the way it is more commonly done today. IIRC, anytime from about the early sixties on back, it meant they picked you up and took you to the dance, you were expected to dance with a variety of different people, and would dance maybe one or two times during the night with your date, and then your date would take you home. And it was also based on the rule that you have to at least pretend a prior commitment in order to turn down an invitation, and if you showed up at the dance after claiming a prior commitment (like washing your hair!) it would be obvious you'd lied. So the only acceptable excuse was "I'm already going with someone," because that wouldn't be proven a lie when you showed up at the dance. This was also a time when it was shocking to go stag.

These days, and for some decades now (I'm 34 and our dances were like this), going with someone to a dance is pretty much agreeing to be plastered to them all night. It's very much an individual-romantic-date thing in a way it wouldn't have been in, say, the 50s. And it's also not frowned upon to go stag or with friends, in most instances (though I know there are exceptions). So turning down a date is not as big of a deal because a girl does have the right to decide she doesn't want to be romantically involved with someone.

I think Miss Manners is just behind the times and has no idea what dances are like now. "Arrive at the dance with me and dance one song with me" is a very different offer from "slow dance mushed up against my body all night."

ETA: And also in the fifties you were expected to "date" a bunch of different people in a really casual fashion, until you decided to get serious with one of them and go steady, while today people usually go from friends to "in a relationship" with no intermediate step. It's just a very different time, and Martin is stuck in the old one.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 08:19:59 AM by Yvaine »

LaciGirl007

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 08:19:06 AM »
I hope that's not blasphemous, but I was truly shocked by her answer in the Washington Post this morning.
Here's the article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/miss-manners-high-school-slights-can-last-a-lifetime/2012/03/01/gIQAzRvOSS_story.html

For those who may not be able to follow the link, let me sum up. 
Is it okay to turn down an invitation to a dance but accept a subsequent invitation to the same dance?

Miss Manners says No, and I could hardly believe it.

If a boy you do not like asks you to a dance, apparently a young lady's options are either to attend with him or not attend at all.  But what if the boy is rude, crude, dirty, a chauvenist, or someone the young lady genuinely does not wish to be seen with?  Is she really expected to forego the prom just because this young man asked her first and she cannot bear the thought of being his date for the evening?

I am hoping that I have misunderstood her and that the rule of etiquette is not really that a young lady must either attend with the first person to ask, even if he is utterly undesirable, or forego her prom entirely.
Yes, Miss Manners got it totally wrong.

MorgnsGrl

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2012, 08:21:09 AM »
If a boy you do not like asks you to a dance, apparently a young lady's options are either to attend with him or not attend at all.  But what if the boy is rude, crude, dirty, a chauvenist, or someone the young lady genuinely does not wish to be seen with?  Is she really expected to forego the prom just because this young man asked her first and she cannot bear the thought of being his date for the evening?

I am hoping that I have misunderstood her and that the rule of etiquette is not really that a young lady must either attend with the first person to ask, even if he is utterly undesirable, or forego her prom entirely.

I'm with you. What if the boy is her ex-boyfriend who treated her badly, or a boy who sexually assaulted her, or a boy who has been stalking her? What if he is innocent of any wrong-doing but doesn't know that the night before the girl agreed to exclusively date another boy?

Knitterly

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 08:23:04 AM »
I think this is based in a more old-fashioned style of holding a dance, where "going with" a person didn't mean being glued to their side the way it is more commonly done today. IIRC, anytime from about the early sixties on back, it meant they picked you up and took you to the dance, you were expected to dance with a variety of different people, and would dance maybe one or two times during the night with your date, and then your date would take you home. And it was also based on the rule that you have to at least pretend a prior commitment in order to turn down an invitation, and if you showed up at the dance after claiming a prior commitment (like washing your hair!) it would be obvious you'd lied. So the only acceptable excuse was "I'm already going with someone," because that wouldn't be proven a lie when you showed up at the dance. This was also a time when it was shocking to go stag.

These days, and for some decades now (I'm 34 and our dances were like this), going with someone to a dance is pretty much agreeing to be plastered to them all night. It's very much an individual-romantic-date thing in a way it wouldn't have been in, say, the 50s. And it's also not frowned upon to go stag or with friends, in most instances (though I know there are exceptions). So turning down a date is not as big of a deal because a girl does have the right to decide she doesn't want to be romantically involved with someone.

I think Miss Manners is just behind the times and has no idea what dances are like now. "Arrive at the dance with me and dance one song with me" is a very different offer from "slow dance mushed up against my body all night."

ETA: And also in the fifties you were expected to "date" a bunch of different people in a really casual fashion, until you decided to get serious with one of them and go steady, while today people usually go from friends to "in a relationship" with no intermediate step. It's just a very different time, and Martin is stuck in the old one.

But even in the 1950s, shouldn't a lady have had the option of declining a date with one young man without sacrificing her right to go at all?  What if he was a well known cad who couldn't keep his hands to himself?  Was a young lady expected to put herself and her reputation at risk just so she could attend her own prom?

O'Dell

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2012, 08:24:18 AM »
So theoretically an "undesirable" can get revenge on an entire class by asking all the eligible girls to the prom, getting turned down by them all, and thus having all the girls self-ban themselves from the prom.  >:D

I agree with Yvaine that it seems like pretty old-fashioned advice. I can see how it would be hurtful to turn down a date to a dance only to turn up with another person, but nowadays it is easy enough for a girl (or guy) being asked out to say that she is going on her own and not accepting dates, then unofficially go with someone who asks after. Us modern chicks can be sneaky that way. ;)
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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Yvaine

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2012, 08:26:40 AM »
But even in the 1950s, shouldn't a lady have had the option of declining a date with one young man without sacrificing her right to go at all?  What if he was a well known cad who couldn't keep his hands to himself?  Was a young lady expected to put herself and her reputation at risk just so she could attend her own prom?

Well, my guess is that you'd use polite fictions to get around it. You might say "I'm already going with someone" and then rope your brother into coming with you or something.

Teenyweeny

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2012, 09:17:13 AM »
Ugh. I hate this answer. Protect the male ego at all costs, even if it means that the woman's choice is accept a date she doesn't want to or miss out on what could be an important part of her high school experience.

Why can't one just say, "Sorry Bobby, I'm going with my friends" or "I like you, but not in that way"? Yes, getting knocked back stings. But good people respect the choices of others. And the people who won't respect your choices are not people you should be involved with anyway.




LaciGirl007

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2012, 09:19:18 AM »
Miss Manners got it 100% wrong.  Her advice is not even in accord with old-fashioned etiquette.  Here's Amy Vanderbilt on precisely the same issue:

"Refusing a Date  It is always a woman's prerogative to refuse an invitation from a man.  Suppose there is a country club dance.  Mary, like every other girl in her group, is dying to go and waiting impatiently for the telephone to ring.  The wrong boy calls up.  Must she accept, or, having refused, not go to the dance at all if she later receives the invitation she is waiting for?  No, she leaves the way open.  She says, 'Thank you very much, but I'm not quite sure I'll be free that evening.  I hope you'll ask me again sometime.'  Then if she is invited by the boy she hopes will ask her, she may attend without offending the first boy.  Or, if she is not invited by someone else, it is possible the first boy will try again a day or so before the party.  She should remember it is never necessary for a lady to make detailed explanations as to why she cannot accept an invitation."

Amy Vanderbilt's New Complete Book of Etiquette: The Guide to Gracious Living, by Amy Vanderbilt (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1952-1963), p. 559 (emphasis added). 
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 09:22:21 AM by LaciGirl007 »

LaciGirl007

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2012, 09:20:37 AM »
So theoretically an "undesirable" can get revenge on an entire class by asking all the eligible girls to the prom, getting turned down by them all, and thus having all the girls self-ban themselves from the prom.  >:D

I agree with Yvaine that it seems like pretty old-fashioned advice. I can see how it would be hurtful to turn down a date to a dance only to turn up with another person, but nowadays it is easy enough for a girl (or guy) being asked out to say that she is going on her own and not accepting dates, then unofficially go with someone who asks after. Us modern chicks can be sneaky that way. ;)
POD, except that Miss Manners's advice is wrong even from the old-fashioned viewpoint; see my quotation from Amy Vanderbilt in a previous post upthread.

LaciGirl007

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2012, 09:21:22 AM »
But even in the 1950s, shouldn't a lady have had the option of declining a date with one young man without sacrificing her right to go at all?  What if he was a well known cad who couldn't keep his hands to himself?  Was a young lady expected to put herself and her reputation at risk just so she could attend her own prom?

Well, my guess is that you'd use polite fictions to get around it. You might say "I'm already going with someone" and then rope your brother into coming with you or something.
I like the way Amy Vanderbilt suggests putting it: "I'm not quite sure whether I'll be free that evening."  It's not even a fiction!

Teenyweeny

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2012, 09:31:26 AM »
Yeah, I mean, I would have replied, "Oh, thanks for the offer, but I think I'll probably just go with my friends." Decent guys will get the hint. And if you turn up with a date, "Oh, I ended up coming with Billy". No further explanation necessary.



LaciGirl007

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2012, 09:38:32 AM »
Yeah, I mean, I would have replied, "Oh, thanks for the offer, but I think I'll probably just go with my friends." Decent guys will get the hint. And if you turn up with a date, "Oh, I ended up coming with Billy". No further explanation necessary.
I think you're missing the point.  According to Miss Manners, it doesn't matter HOW you phrase your refusal: once you've refused one invitation to a dance, etiquette (according to MM) does not permit you to attend that dance with any other person.  (Her rule doesn't cover attending stag, so I suppose you could go alone without violating Miss Manner's inane "rule.") So according to Miss Manners, if you "end up coming with Billy" you've been rude.

Which illustrates how absurdly wrong her "rule" is.

Teenyweeny

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2012, 09:43:51 AM »
Yeah, I mean, I would have replied, "Oh, thanks for the offer, but I think I'll probably just go with my friends." Decent guys will get the hint. And if you turn up with a date, "Oh, I ended up coming with Billy". No further explanation necessary.
I think you're missing the point.  According to Miss Manners, it doesn't matter HOW you phrase your refusal: once you've refused one invitation to a dance, etiquette (according to MM) does not permit you to attend that dance with any other person.  (Her rule doesn't cover attending stag, so I suppose you could go alone without violating Miss Manner's inane "rule.") So according to Miss Manners, if you "end up coming with Billy" you've been rude.

Which illustrates how absurdly wrong her "rule" is.

No, I know that according to Miss Manners, my approach would be 'wrong'. And it boils every drop of my 'angry feminazi' blood :D.



LaciGirl007

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Re: Did Miss Manners get it wrong???
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2012, 09:44:53 AM »
The comments at the WashPost website are saying pretty much the same thing we are.  One commenter painted an amusing picture of the scene that this inane "rule" would cause: on the first day of school, all the girls would be running through the hallways in terror, trying to avoid the "wrong" boy from asking them to the Prom, so that they wouldn't have to turn him down and be forever prevented from going to the Prom with anyone else. ;D

And it would take just one rogue boy asking & being refused by every girl in the class to call off the Prom entirely. ;D
« Last Edit: March 22, 2012, 09:48:00 AM by LaciGirl007 »