In Personal Praise and Honor of Women
“In Personal Praise and Honor of Women”
This is the title, and this is my story. For eons, women have taken more than their fair share of accusations, slurs, and abuse, both verbal and physical, for just being a woman. A woman who wanted to spread her wings and explore herself and her visions, not to undermine or attack her husband and even mankind. She just decided that it was her time. And why shouldn’t she take this bold chance comparable to daring a lightning bolt to strike her?
Since Mother Eve, women have been the most misunderstood creature that God ever created. For seemingly-endless spans of time, men have mastered and understood the ocean, skies, even the vastness of black space, but not once has he taken the time to understand (a) women. Women, I admit out of my male gender, can be a complex collection of sweet-smelling silken mysteries all wrapped in a tempting wink of the eye and a deadly smile from her soft lips. But I can speak for myself and my brethren in telling you that we men simply do not know how to understand females.
The "nightmare" started in times past
Prior to, and during such eras in our history as The Gilded Age, women were seen as objects of artwork that some cigar-smoking, brandy-drinking “lion” who owned his own stock investment firm, purchased at a secret auction held in his well-furnished den where he and his equally-arrogant pals were congregate weekly and tell each other tall tales on how they “kept their little woman” in line. “You have to do that sometimes,” an elderly retired millionaire would say at the end of each tale that was told—sharply-similar to a well-rehearsed Broadway play, everyone had a place and lines to say on cue. Ahhh, the poor beautiful wives, never allowed to speak their minds, and many times not permitted to speak at all.
This abuse irks me to the point of just daring these jerks in men’s disguises to put a collar around these women’s necks just like you did your yard dog? What you did to her, muffling her every word and thought hurt her self-esteem and shredded her dignity worse that you ever punished your dog.
I suppose now, with a lot of thinking and studying, those beautiful Southern Belles in gorgeous hoop skirts, hats with seductive brims and that silken parasol, loved their role as a non-thinking, non-speaking porcelain dolls who strolled underneath the mimosa’s sipping mint juleps living and existing in their real-life dream world due to their cotton-selling husbands in stylish coats and tails did all of the thinking and speaking for him and his wife.
Origin of The Southern Belle
The image of the Southern belle developed in the South during the Antebellum Period. It was based on the young, unmarried woman in the plantation-owning upper class of Southern society A Southern belle of that era was keenly aware of the popular fashion of that time, and the modern archetypal image still includes antebellum fashion. A Southern belle typically wore a hoop skirt, a corset, pantalettes, a wide-brimmed straw hat, and gloves. They also frequently carried parasol umbrellas and hand fans. As was fashion at the time, these young women shielded themselves carefully from the sun, as a sign of tanning was considered working-class and unfashionable. Southern belles were expected to marry respectable young men, and become ladies of society dedicated to the family and community.
An essential element of the Southern belle was social grace. They were always good-mannered and could make any guest feel welcome. The "Southern belle" epitomized Southern hospitality, a cultivation of beauty, and a flirtatious yet chaste demeanor.
The opening scene of the film Gone with the Wind is widely considered to depict a classic example of a Southern belle. In that scene, Scarlett O'Hara is on the porch entertaining the Tarleton Twins, and they are completely captivated by her. She is playful, delicate, and beautiful.
History of the archetype
During the Reconstruction Era in the South, the role of the plantation-owning upper class changed dramatically. The role of women changed dramatically as well, as did the clothing fashion from the antebellum era.
During the early 20th century, several things happened to revive the image of the antebellum young woman, and the archetype began to form. By far the most important event was the release of the film Gone with the Wind. Dick Pope, Sr., famed promoter of Florida tourism, played an important role in popularizing the archetypal image. He had a staff of Southern belles working as hostesses at his famed Cypress Gardens. He promoted their image in magazines photo-spreads and newsreels all over the world, in an effort to promote his theme park.
In a modern context, the term is used to describe graceful Southern-born females from any ethnic background. The term may also be used for a débutante from the southern United States. There is no single formula for what constitutes a Southern belle today, but they are certainly not all old money and triple-legacy sorority girls.
This part really gets my blood to boiling
I love the south with a fiery-red passion, but I view this existence-by-beauty “only” for these Southern Belles as a direct filthy insult to these naïve girls who mastered charm, grace, and sharpened-social manners. How else can I or you see it? Even an extremely-wealthy cotton baron’s livestock had it better than his male-molded husband, for at least this man would visit the animal quarters and talk to the animals.
There has been this one reoccurring dream that has chased me in times past so much that I was once tempted to contact Stephen King, master of the written word about evil and the unexplained, to see if he might “take a crack,” at turning my dream into a best-seller or maybe a screenplay for a serious horror movie that just might open the eyes of what few remaining “good ol’ boys” who at one time, infiltrated and saturated the rural country churches in the Southland.
The dream goes like this: I see this humbly-sized rural church, built from concrete blocks with a shingle roof and cars and pick-up trucks are parked in random patterns. Some parked underneath the three huge Oak trees that give of their cool shade for relief to any of the church members smart enough to get inside the shade out of the unrelenting summer sun.
Inside the church building is purely a black and white area made up of men with mostly crew-cuts and wearing traditional white, long-sleeved shirts with narrow black ties. Their traditional 50’s-style hats are all hanging on a piece of smooth lumber with hooks tacked to the wall at the back of the building.
No individuality mixed with stern lives equals death
Only these men who are mostly dressed just alike line the pews from the front to almost the back of the church and on those pews sit their wives and families. Their wives are following suit by wearing dresses not above the knee and modest hats with veils to honor this social tradition for females in the church since the days of The Apostle Paul when he was teaching the people in Corinth. This scene looks almost mechanical and planned-out as the men do the singing with help from their wives and the only female to be placed toward the front of the church is the pastor’s old maid sister, “Gladys,” who is an excellent piano player.
The worship service goes as planned, one hour to the second. Pastor “Jeffreys,” also dressed in a white, long-sleeved shirt and black pleated pants as all of the male church members are dressed, dismisses his flock and the members begin shaking hands, talking, and milling to the outside of the church to talk a few minutes with each other before starting for home.
But on the north-side of the church building, the deacons are having an impromptu meeting. A serious meeting. The subject: “Bro. L.D. Taylor’s” wife, “Jaynelle,” has been “acting-up,” lately at home and inside the Piggly Wiggly in their modest hometown. It wasn’t her dress because she always dresses modestly in and out of the public eye. Nor was it her behavior. She is really a “poster child” for self-control. What it involves is her mouth. She has this problem of asking “L.D.,” too many questions about politics, theology, and the life itself—knowing almost from birth that she is to remain silent as a gesture of reverence to her husband.
Enough is enough of this "rebel" woman
“The camel’s back” was broken two Sundays ago when one of the deacons heard her speak openly in the singing service to her best friend, “Judie Clingan,” a first-cousin to the pastor, about why the congregation “must” sing the same hyms Sunday after Sunday. Pastor “Jeffreys,” is stern in his instructions to the deacons in wanting “this ugly tool of the devil cleaned-up at once.” This female rebel must be put back into her place.
“L.D.” nervously-confides, “I’ve tried to keep her in line by spatting her on the butt,” he says with his head hung low in shame. “But that only makes her upset at me and I do not get any supper that night.”
As “L.D.” finishes his statement, the group of “ol’ boys,” suddenly realize that I am standing near them and they gasp as they start shuffling right toward me chanting some scripture from the Book of Ezekiel. I cannot run or walk away in my dream. I am paralyzed. The angry men are getting closer and closer for the know now that “I” can cause trouble with the knowledge I have gained about “Taylor” slapping his wife on the butt and this ugly incident just may be the start of something bigger and much-more monsterous.
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Same dream. Same ending
I awake with my heart pounding like a blacksmith molding a new horseshoe. I cannot explain this dream to anyone. But I know from my past that “all” dreams mean something and all things in life are not just random events, but have a purpose.
Could it be my sub-conscious appreciation for females? Could it be that I do not like for any female to be abused in any way? And do these ritualistically-prejudiced “ol’ boys,” represent the hidden abusers who hide in darkness entitled “Something Happened to Me When I Was a Boy,” and other flimsy excuses to beat and torment their wives?
I might answer, “Yes,” to all of my questions.
All in all, I am only one guy with one mind and opinion. And my opinion of women of all sizes, shapes, and dialects is they, the women, are all in a area way beyond special and we men need to re-learn “who” women are. Not “what” they are, as this old adage says, “Women are here for two things: To make men’s meals and have their kids.”
Maybe we men need to re-learn in reverse. Re-learn to hate the “demon,” abuse in any way and then re-learn respect and then “how” to talk to women and finally “how” to love them in the way that they need and deserve.
Then maybe this terrible reoccurring dream might stop.
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