Please read my blog post “How Women In Dickinson Can Behave Like Southern Ladies, Part 1”. I began that post by saying that many women in Dickinson already know these things that I will write, however many do not, especially the young single women who have come from out of state to work in Dickinson.
4. Do Not Argue In Public. You may have been wronged, but do not argue in public. In confronting an individual that has wronged you, you may accidentally begin to use language that is not lady-like, and you may end up looking trashy and low class. You may have been wronged, but in confronting an individual in public, details may emerge, or accusations could emerge, that may embarrass you or humiliate you. Arguing in public, details might emerge that could hurt innocent people. Arguing in public might reveal a dark side of you that no one was aware of and that you don’t want known. Arguing in public might lead to a physical fight, and you don’t want or need witnesses to this. Fighting in public is prohibited in Rule #5 by the way.
Rule #4 is an extremely important rule. Let’s just say that you are right and that the other person is wrong. Stop and think about the consequences of arguing in public. I will have to explain this with some scenarios.
Let us say that your husband has had an affair with a waitress. You know it, your husband knows it, and the waitress knows it. In your anger, you might head straight down to the restaurant where this waitress works, and confront her wherever you find her saying, “You fucking whore! I had better not ever catch you fucking my husband again!” As a result of this approach, your husband’s friends, your friends, your husband’s co-workers, your co-workers, your neighbors, and probably even your children will know what your husband did. Was it necessary and beneficial for your neighbors and children to know this? What if the waitress yells back, “Your husband told me that you were a lesbian and you wouldn’t have sex with him anymore!” Whether this is true or not, what is everybody going to think?
A lady would confront her husband in private, with no one around, no witnesses, no children. (How and why do you think that President George Bush got a black eye while he was president and in the private residence?) No one needs to see or hear this lady using bad language. No one needs to see or hear this lady punch her husband in the face. He won’t be able to tell the police. He will have to say something stupid like he was eating pretzels and a pretzel got caught in his throat and he hit his head on the coffee table.
A lady would not want her children to know that their father had had an affair. She would not want to upset and confuse the children, who would then spend all of their time worrying that mom and dad were going to get a divorce. A lady would dictate terms, conditions, and consequences to her husband in private. All of the arguing and negotiating would be done in private. No one needs to know or should know the husband and wife’s personal affairs.
If a lady wanted to confront the waitress who had had an affair with her husband, she could inform the waitress that she would like to meet with her. By the way, a forty-five year old married woman telephoning a twenty-five year old waitress and asking to speak to her in the most matter-of-fact way, would probably result in all restaurant staff suspecting, but not knowing, what had transpired, and it would not be liked. A quick meeting, off hours, at the most distant table, in a hotel bar, would be an appropriate place for a lady to tell some young woman that she knows what had happened. That she has explained this to her husband, and now she is explaining this to you, that if this ever happens again, that you can have him, he can come and live with you, but you had better be able to support both of you, because she will be keeping the house, and she and the kids will be taking all of his money.
Rule #4, Do Not Argue In Public, does not mean not doing anything, or not getting even. In the South, women don’t have to like each other, in order to help each other. The easy thing to call it would be “Networking” but this it not accurate, because “Networking” is different. It is more simple, it is like, “If you do something to one of us, you do something to all of us.” Ladies do not like it when other women cause their husbands to cheat on them. If a lady told her best friend in the strictest confidence what her husband had done. Her best friend might take matters into her own hands and tell her friend, who is the wife of the restaurant owner. The restaurant owner’s wife is not about to have some young girl around that is going to be after her husband next, and this young waitress can no longer work there.
Having just written that in the South, women don’t have to like each other, in order to help each other, the following outcome is just as likely. Once a wife has had a chance to calm down after finding out that her husband has had an affair. The wife will want to know who her husband cheated with. It might be a relief to the wife that her husband cheated with some twenty-five year old waitress, and feel that this is not a threat. The waitress probably doesn’t want her husband anyway. The wife might try to put herself in the shoes of the young waitress, not making much money, struggling financially, her husband trying to charm her, maybe promising her things. The wife might not want any revenge on the young waitress, and begin to believe that both she and the waitress were both victimized by her husband in this.
But remember that there was No Arguing In Public.