Monday, December 05, 2005


So I just realized that I have quite a collection of etiquette books. I have the Grrls guide to etiquette, I've been reading some Mrs. Beeton. After reading some fascinating Margaret Atwood books, I got really interested in how to run upper class households in the 19th century, so I bought some guides to that. Since I got engaged, I have tons of Emily Post books and stuff from The Knot laying around. Why is this? I consider myself a feminist. Surely I don't agree that there are proper ways to respond to dinner invitations and certain formulas involved in calculating what to spend on a wedding gift. Do I purchase these books out of hidden shame for my enjoyment of burping? Perhaps I feel badly that I don't own lace gloves or a purse?

Last night, I was working with a student on her paper about Adrienne Rich's ON LYING. Rich parodies society's roles for women; she ironically challenges our behaviors. I made this student work very hard to differentiate between Rich's opinion of a "woman's place" and society's definition of the same. The student and I gave virtual high fives, talked about girl power. Today, I started an application process to teach women's studies courses next year.

So why the fascination with etiquette guides? I could tell you I buy them because they're funny or that I analyze them to scorn the women for perpetuating a servile role for themselves. But I don't do these things. I read these guides and secretly wish I wanted a china dinner service for 12. I wish I had glasses for all types of alcohol, sterling silver flatware to bring out for company. I wish I knew the rules of appropriate hours to make phone calls. I wish I sent people thank you gifts wrapped in satin bows around expensive boxes. Why don't I do these things?

I have taken up knitting with fervor, I learned to bake apple pie from scratch this summer, and I infuse my own olive oil. I pick up after a man and I curl up with the writings of the Victorian Martha Stewart. What is happening to me?


ninny said...

it's from watching too much 'little house'

Em said...

For the same reason I read To torment oneself about not wanting what you're supposed to have been conditioned to want and wondering if you're so deep in denial that you really want it after all. It's all a guilt thing. The unsettling of very deep-seated expectations about roles in life, rumblings of fear that manifest as confusion over desires, man as social animal and societal structure/stricture, the rational/animal duality, etc, etc, blah, etc.

PeaceLoveMath said...

dude, you play rugby hardcore. it is possible to have the best of both worlds. that would be my diagnosis of you!

Anonymous said...

hi katy (and corey)! long time no talk, but i often wonder how you are doing out there in pittsburgh. congratulations on getting engaged. how do you like your classes? I am graduating on Tuesday and am freaking about presenting my thesis for a grade (in front of parents, etc). ahh!! i just got a new job, and have no break between school and, well, it. anyway, i really enjoy margaret atwood; my favorite book by her is called "Cat's Eye." If you were ever teased as a kid (or adult, for that matter), it's something you should definitely read. Anyway, hope all is well with you. I'm on livejournal if ever you want to read my blog - my username is yuppiesunite. peas, katyrank.

Anonymous said...

by the way, 'anonymous' is jess, ex pearsonite.