In the South, a premium is placed on learning proper manners and etiquette from an early age. We’re taught to say „yes ma’am“ and „no m’am“ to our elders, „please“ and „thank you“ whenever warranted, and „bless you“ when someone sneezes. So I was intrigued to watch The School Of Life’s latest video about how manners have evolved throughout history. Are Southerners as polite as we like to imagine we are? Or, in the grand scheme, are we lagging behind in the etiquette department?
Well, the good news is that American society as a whole seems to have come a long way since our days as hunter-gatherers who spent their spare time finger-painting on cave walls (although there are always exceptions to every rule, amirite?). But for the most part, we’re gradually cruising along and picking up slightly better manners as we go. Interestingly, what constitutes good manners has always been subject to interpretation and guided by what part of the world you hailed from. So perhaps there is something to the idea that Southerners hold manners in especially high regard.
In any case, it’s of particular interest that manners have largely centered around gender relations. Sadly, treating women with respect and decorum has been a painfully slow learning process — not the standard. Just check out a few of these anachronistic moments in the history of manners below; to watch the full video, scroll down.