Saturday, 28 April 2018

Terminology, interpretation, amother DAY and being nice to people!

Yesterday I went out to lunch with a group of female friends, and friends of friends, to celebrate the (significant) birthday of one of our number. The young man behind the bar referred to us at one point as “ladies”. One or two of our party objected to our being called “ladies”. They deemed it condescending and said we should be called “women”.


Do feminists in other countries have the same problem? Should the French start addressing people of the female persuasion as “Mafemme” instead of “Madame”? I can see that causing some confusion. Should the Spanish start speaking of groups of women as “mujeres” instead of “seƱoras”?

And, my oh my, was it condescending of me the refer to the young man as a young man? Am I being ageist?

As for me, I quite enjoy being one of a group of “ladies who lunch”. I have no objections to the label whatsoever.

I hear quite a lot about a loneliness epidemic, in the Uk and in other countries. This seems to be a product of the busy lives everyone leads. We all rush around and have no time to meet and greet people properly. There is little time to establish proper friendships in the workplace and everyone is so afraid of being regarded as odd that they won’t talk to anyone on public transport.

But it’s not all negative. In today’s newspaper there was an article pointing put the difference between loneliness and solitude. They interviewed people who have jobs that mean they spend a good deal of time alone and who actually appreciate it.

One person commented on the practice of sending children to their room as a punishment for misdemeanours. According to this writer, being sent to your room should be a privilege not a punishment. Children should earn the right to go and spend time alone in their own space. I can understand that. Our four year old granddaughter often asks if she can go and play in her room, on her own, away from everyone. Even when she stays in our house, she will take herself off and do her own thing in what becomes “her” room while she is here. Occasionally she organises it into some kind of fantasy space and invites selected adults to go and visit her there.

This is partly, I suppose, the result of being an only child - and one who is not plonked in front of a tv set for entertainment purposes except at specific times.

Even the idea of having you own space is a relatively modern concept. When we were children, back in the dark ages, it was the accepted norm that same-sex siblings shared bedrooms. Consequently I shared a bedroom with my two sisters throughout our childhood. Our brother had his own room, of course, which we used to take turns in “borrowing” when he went off the scout camp or some such residential visit. I didn’t have a room of my own until I went away to university. There you go!

Today is another “DAY”. Facebook invites me to help celebrate “Pay it Forward Day”, a day for doing nice things to others. As if we all needed a special day for that. The name comes from a book by Catherine Ryan-Hyde which I discovered years ago, the story of a boy who invents, for a school project I think, a plan where one person does something good to or for three others, who then have to “pay it forward” by each doing good to or for three others and so on and so on, spreading good will around the world. Some cafes have a system where you can “pay forward” a coffee for a homeless person.

We are none of us really alone; we just need a reminder sometimes to do things to make life a bit easier.

No doubt tomorrow will be another DAY!

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