He Was Puting it Nicely – December 1911

To be born and bred in a pure and high-minded home is not without its disadvantages in later life. For the outer world is not a community of refined human beings: far from it. In particular, the woman who has been sheltered from the grossness of life is bound to get a shock or two whenever she steps out freely among people who are not quite her kind.

How alarming and astonishing for instance, the brutal coarseness of men who have not learned to anoint themselves before coming into the presence of a woman. I am going to tell a ludicrous — in one aspect — experience of my own which often makes me laugh to myself, and at myself.

When I have met a man misbehaving himself in speech or action, I like to lay the case before the masculine judgment of my own family, and get an informed verdict whether this is the ordinary nature of man, or — otherwise. For men always tell their own womenkind, with darkly significant tone, that we do not know what men are like in reality among themselves, freed from the restraint of woman’s presence.

Now what I had to complain of on a certain occasion was not much, but a somewhat rude and unmannerly reception of a personal opinion on a moral question of great importance. I did not feel inclined to soil myself with argumentative defence on a level with his, and fancied he took a base advantage of my sex to be overbearingly rude.

In this, it appears, I was quite mistaken, as I found when I recounted the incident to my own man: “That’s nothing,” he said. “I am accustomed to having the same thing said to me in far worse language. He was putting it nicely to you because you are a woman.”

“Putting it nicely!” I echoed. “Yes. He was putting it very nicely as the talk of such men goes. I am used to men making the same assertions you complain of but with oaths and blasphemies.”

“Oaths and blasphemies!” I repeated with horror.

My relative continued to gaze calmly at me: “Yes. Oaths and blasphemies. I never pay any attention,” he went on in a voice as unruffled as his face; “you see, you have not the least idea what the mind of the great mass of men is like. Never take any notice whatever when a rude fellow says disrespectful things about your moral convictions.”

The supreme calm of his look was too much for my gravity. I felt like a little girl who had run in excitedly to tell her mother that a man had said d—- to her. That comes of not being accustomed to oaths at home.

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