Gynocentric etiquette for men (1897)

The following excerpts on the subject of male etiquette are from ‘Manners for Men: by Mrs Humpry the Madge of Truth’ published in 1897. – PW

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Walking with a Lady

“The rule of the road is a simple one, “Keep to the right.” Easy enough for women, it is complicated in the case of men by the necessity of always remaining on the kerb side of any lady they should be accompanying. Should the lady keep to the right in meeting or in passing other persons, her escort may either keep by her or go out into the road. He will be able to judge for himself which course will be advisable. His first duty is always to his companion, but that need not make him wanting in courtesy to other women. If remaining by the side of his companion should involve any inconvenience to the ladies of the other approaching party, then he must give up his position, and go out onto the roadway to let the latter pass. Should these be men, no consideration is necessary.

He keeps close by his lady’s side, but in crowded streets he may often have to fall behind, but he should never allow any one to interpose between her and him. Should the pressure from the crowd become extreme, his duty is to protect her from it as much as possible, but never by putting his arm around her waist. A hand on either side of the lady’s shoulders is usually sufficient.

Communicating with a Lady

“The well-mannered man never puts out his hand in greeting until a lady extends hers. This is a test of good breeding that is constantly applied. To those uninitiated in the ways of society, it would naturally appear the right thing to give as cordial a greeting as possible. Therefore the hand is held out, even on introduction to a perfect stranger. This is wrong. The first move in the direction of cordiality must come from the lady, the whole code of behaviour being based on the assumption that she is the social superior.

“It must always be borne in mind that the assumption of Woman’s social superiority lies at the root of these rules of conduct. It is bad manners to introduce people without permission. Nor must this permission be asked within the hearing of the second party. If Mr. A wishes to know Miss B., the lady’s leave must be obtained before he can be presented to her. The only exception to this rule is at a dance or ball, where introductions need not be regarded as leading to acquaintanceship. They are only for the dance, and may be ignored next day. Here, again, it is the lady’s privilege to ignore her partner, if she choose. But if she should bow to him he must raise his hat, whether he desires to follow up the acquaintanceship or not.

SOURCE: Manners for Men: by Mrs Humpry the Madge of Truth

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