|Gentlemen —||and Ladies|
Ambiguity is tricky enough, social ambiguities are really devilish. Gender, religion, cosmology … evolution … You can snap a leg in an instant. For a warmup, a stretching exercise, I remind you of a favorite “religious” social distinction:
A Methodist is a Baptist with shoes.
A Presbyterian is a Methodist who’s gone to college.
An Anglican is a Presbyterian who lives off his investments.
This is similarly tricky, and invisible to the majority, no matter what you say:
People hear “gentleman” and think, Ah, someone with good manners, someone with correct morals … But the right class of people will understand one thing before all else:He lives off his investments.
If you work for a living, you are not a gentleman!
(In some societies it’s best to live off inherited investments.)
If you own 51% of the stock, rape a secretary an hour, you are a gentleman.
Damn, I just lost a couple of paragraphs! segueing to ladies:
You’re a lady if you attend the right church, keep your legs together, know which hat to wear to the Kentucky Derby … but principally, even if you terrorize the maids, blackmail the chauffeur to rub your knickers and remain silent, you’re a lady if … if your husband owns that 51%.
Ladies’ behavior is thoroughly more monitored than that of gentlemen, but still is pricipally social, and “social” is principally economic. But it won’t be economic unless your cosmology and theology align with that of the overlords. In other words, be the three-millionth person to agree with Darwin; not the third, and not the last: and absolutely, not the first.
These things do modify over time. Read Dickens’ Great Expectations: this society is not quite that society; but is more it than not.