There Is Nothin' Like a Lady?

07/20/2011 06:27 pm ET | Updated Sep 19, 2011
  • Gerit Quealy Journalist, A+E, previously columnist NBC's

I just read the news about Florida GOP Congressman Allen West excoriating Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for not acting like a lady. I was confused. Act like what Lady? (He capitalized it in his email to her.)

Perhaps Lady Grey and her sister Lady Howard, whose medical ministrations helped benefit the poor who couldn't afford it.

Or Lady Ada Lovelace who essentially developed the first computer. Or Lady Astor, the first woman in Parliament. Abolitionist Lady Middleton? Or ladies like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who initiated the women's rights movement in America. I was just, you know, wondering what century he was living in. Or drawing from. Or referring to.

And then I racked my brain to recall when last someone reviled a male with the equivalent admonition. And why not? Is it manly to metaphorically rape and pillage an entire country and bring it to its knees economically? And take no responsibility for it? Is it manly to leave the victims wounded and bleeding and left to rot on the battlefield? Is it manly to steal from the poor and give to the rich? Is it manly to lie through your teeth to manipulate those in your charge to believe what you tell them?

I just watched Lord of the Rings for the 107th time, to introduce it to my mother (and I tried very hard not to say the lines ahead of time or start crying before something happened). But I realized that one of the things that attracts me to it is the concept of honor. Which is to me part and parcel of being "manly", in my book anyway. But maybe I'm old fashioned.

Wasserman Schultz
responded: "The gentleman from Florida. who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries, unbelievable from a Member from South Florida..."

She called him a gentlemen. Very Jane Austen. Very ladylike.