|“One hears often of a self-made man. He likes to advertise his rise in life. But you never hear of a self-made woman; you never hear a rich woman refer to the time when she was still a mill girl or a servant.” – Virginia Harlan, 1910|
Cautioning on the Snobbishness of Women
Women, as a class, are distinctly snobbish. Although it is no extenuation, I grant you that there are snobbish men; but they are altogether out proportioned by the women of snobdom. You will please understand that in the course of these lines I shall refer consistently to the “average’’ woman. You, my dear feminine reader, of course, are not an average woman, and so may judge my statements impartially. Woman, at a very early age, reveals her innate tendency towards snobbishness.
The little girl with any pretentions to station, gives herself absurd airs when brought into contact with another small child of a lower sphere. Let the small daughter of a tradesman go to a “school for young ladies”— save the mark—and she at once becomes the center of a certain scornful curiosity. Her school mates sneer and giggle at her and, despite their breeding, are not above the sniff ostentatious. They make it very clear to her that they look down on her for the awful fact that her father “keeps a shop.” As the little girl grows up her snobbishness grows with her. In her teens, she plays field games with restraint, hesitating to speak to any other girl players, lest they be of grosser birth than hers.
Consider the anxiety of the average woman to impress her friends. In order to foster the idea that she has a large dress allowance, she is not above stinting herself in food, so as to have more money to spend on personal adornment. And all these “rolled gold” brooches, and “simulation diamond” rings, and “Peruvian pearl” necklaces — have they not been invented in order to minister to the feminine craving to create an impression? Surely there can be nothing much more snobbish than imitation jewelry!
One hears often of a self-made man. He likes to advertise his rise in life. But you never hear of a self-made woman; you never hear a rich woman refer to the time when she was still a mill girl or a servant. The woman whose husband is now “getting on well” is always ready to sacrifice her old friends to her snobbishness. Such friends as she does not ruthlessly “cut” she patronizes, and very often they submit to it out of a mere snobbish desire to keep friends with someone rich and influential, who may ask them to dinner with “swells” at a moment's notice—if some guest happens to be unable to come.– By Virginia Harlan, 1910
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia