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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 12 (April 1, 1930)

Manners Maketh Woman

Manners Maketh Woman

This is an ancient adage, applied as a general rule to the sterner sex. “Manners maketh man,” and all of us agree very readily on this point. We all appreciate a touch of Old World courtesy in our male friends, a faint reminder of the brave days of the Cavaliers and Bonnie Prince Charlie; of curls, laces and sweeping bows; of coaches, and duels, and love letters. Those days of romance are dead, indeed; they have vanished with the advent of the motor car and the radio; with the rush of business, the making of money, and the new rights demanded by women. Yet how often do we bemoan the fact that the modern man is totally lacking in manners; and he (logical being) replies that we demand equal rights with him in every field, therefore we must be treated as the page 62 male we desire so ardently to emulate. There is a great deal of truth in his answer, but we are not satisfied.

We expect to rush headlong into the world of business, sport, politics, etc., receive the same treatment as our husbands and brothers, and yet we desire still, perhaps secretly, to receive a little homage—a little chivalry. We claim this is our birthright, because we still claim to be the “fair sex,” and believe, even in these days, that men regard us as superiors and not as equals. “The light that lies in woman's eyes” can stil inspire and charm—although we receive a salary equal to a man's, and can sometimes beat him at tennis and golf.

Candidly, I don't think we are being quite fair, do you? We have cast our own manners to the winds as being quite “out of fashion” — in keeping with languishing glances over fans, sylph-like waists, hysterics, and sentimental novels—not at all suitable for trains and trams, typewriters and tennis matches. The other day I was waiting on a railway station, when I heard a very beautiful twentieth century girl casually address her masculine neighbour: “Haven't a match, have you?” He dived for the required “light,” forgetting to raise his hat. She coolly lit a cigarette, and literally “chucked” the box back to its owner, with a laconic, “Thanks.”

We can't expect men to have manners if we won't show the faintest indication of possessing them ourselves. We have always led the way in the finer and more subtle points of human fellowship, and man has followed. We “set the pace,” so to speak, and he looks to us for his lead. Because we are “good sports,” capable and independent, there is no need for us to be abrupt, terribly slangy, and totally devoid of charm. In our hearts we just love to be “looked after,” to have the door held open for us, etc., and I am positive that men, as a rule, like to perform these small services. We cannot expect them to be cavaliers if we don't give them a little encouragement. It is for us to refute the statement that the “days of chivalry are dead and gone.”