Friday, January 11, 2013

Etiquette: When Passive-Agressive Is Celebrated

Miss Manners is passive-aggressive and given to deceit. No, really. I'm an advice columnist junkie because I like to see what kind of problems people like to show off to the world. They're the usual gamut of the I-know-what-to-do-but-I'm-hoping-you'll-give-me-an-easy-way-out thing. On an aside, Dear Abby is getting a bit more snippy these days with the particularly obvious; she's telling them "I give you my permission" to do whatever thing they don't want to do. Miss Manners takes the cake, however. Her usual advice as a response to someone who behaves hurtfully is to give them the a coldly delivered "How kind of you to take an interest." before changing the subject or walking away. The person who is rude enough to be hurtful is then supposed to pick up on the social cue and understand they've been hurtful. On occasions where someone, generally a stranger or acquaintance makes a remark that misinterprets a situation, Miss Manners advocates using a comment that allows the remarker to assume their reading of the situation is correct while not actually lying about it, and then change subject. The rude person is then supposed to Really. It occurs to me that social etiquette is generally a female domain. We are the ones that traditionally set the table and hostessing was the middle and upper class woman's vocation until Baby Boomers laughed in the face of traditionally defined gender roles. Most of the so-called "social graces" Miss Manners deals with harken back to the we-make-the-rules-because-it's-women's-work times. The responses to other people's rudeness, particularly when it's hurtful, is passive-aggressive. Instead of dealing plainly with the issue, that is approaching the hurtful person or speaking directly to the hurtful stranger, one is to be "graceful" by turning the hurt aside and being snotty. Well, she would call it being mannerly, but playing freeze out and being deceptive is snotty.

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