Last week, an article from Thought Catalog began circulating, titled “21 Differences Between A Southern Belle And A Modern Woman." My highest hope is that it was written by Bryce Dallas Howard’s character from The Help, and was published by some random and unforeseeable act. I almost asked my husband if I could use the internet machine to Google whether or not women still have the right to vote.
Apart from the author blatantly bashing women from the northern, eastern, and western parts of the country (behind a thinly veiled claim that “it’s not geography, it’s a mentality”), it does a great disservice to women who do live in the South. By generalizing the term “Southern Belle” and using herself as the figurehead, she’s opening the door to readers from all over the world to share her assumption that all Southern women are judgmental, gossipy, and far behind the times. Furthermore, by countering her culture with what she refers to as “Modern Women," she is stating that Southern Belles are inherently archaic in their values and actions.
Ms. Thompson’s article is harrowingly thought-provoking. Here are a few things that come to mind:
1.) I’m going to start off by cutting you some slack on this one with a rhetorical question: Were you watching a Sex and the City marathon while you wrote this article?
2.) This point is concerning. Is it considered en vogue for the modern woman to look like a sewer rat? If so, please tell me, so that I can burn my bras and give my deodorant to my daughter ASAP.
3.) What if a Charlestonienne genuinely enjoys leafy greens? Or are Southern Belles just Ron Swanson in disguise? (PS: does your definition of salad include protein-based salads? Because chicken salad is delicious and a perfect picnic-date food.)
4.) Is this your way of telling us that Southern Belles are CIA agents? I know your 7th point might contradict this, but getting “valuable information from anyone [you] need to” is a great credential for a career in war journalism or terrorist interrogation.
5.) I disagree. I can cook very well. Are you familiar with Annie’s Mac & Cheese?
6.) Did you just suggest that Modern Women hate their families? Hannah Horvath resents that.
7.) I think you might have read Lean In one too many times. I don’t believe “career” is listed anywhere on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (nor should it be. Although I can’t say the same for ‘sleeping in’).
8.) Did you just call me adorkable? Thanks, I guess…
9.) This point is okay, if you don’t mind being an emotional doormat from time to time.
10.) I’m just going to put this on the backburner for a second. (See point 15)
11.) I think the cast of Teen Mom would have to agree with you on that one.
12.) I’m just going to leave this here….
13.) Hey, you take that back. Annie’s calls for butter.
14.) I can’t tell to whom this is more directed: Jennifer Lawrence or Irish Americans.
15.) Now I’d like to turn your attention back to #10. I believe that field work and tractor drivin’ is for the strong, able-bodied male. But you make a good point; Modern women are afraid of gender roles, because gender roles and inequality are exactly what we’ve worked so hard to overcome. As one woman in the comments so eloquently stated (read: low blow, but hey), “So they're separate... but equal? YOU'RE RIGHT! SOUNDS LIKE SOUTHERN MENTALITY TO ME.”
16.) Since you included “might” early on in this sentence, I’ll excuse the assumption that all modern women wear Doc Martens and look like Justin Bieber. However, that is a style that any woman, Southern Belle included, might enjoy. Biebs is one pretty boy.
17.) Get back to me when the NCAA recognizes cheerleading as a sport.
18.) I’m really glad you mentioned this. Too many women nowadays have been overheard telling their families to “suck it up, punk” in the face of fear and pain.
19.) Oh, good! Finally, a redeeming quality about the Southern Belle. Gossip: a dish best served as cold and dark as your heart.
20.) Again, I ever so endearingly reference CofC as a counterclaim here.
21.) But at least you have some self-love. Don’t listen to the feminists who want you to be more modern, or the businesswoman who continues to fight for the opportunities in gender equality you just spat on so daintily. Bless their hearts.