Wednesday Weigh-in: What is the least “lady-like” thing you’ve done?

This week’s Wednesday Weigh-in is inspired by Rep. Wasserman Schultz and the offensive email she received from Rep. West.

Being told you are not “acting like a lady” is a common insult thrown at women, often in an attempt to berate us or tell us we are not acting as women should act. These gender norms are very often ways to control and subjugate women.

So when we’re un-ladylike, we’re also acting defiantly, standing up to oppression, or just simply doing the right thing. We’re refusing to submit to narrow ideas of what it means to be a woman, in many respects. We’re talking back.

So in honor of Rep. Wasserman Schultz, what is the least “lady-like” thing you’ve ever done?

Join the Conversation

  • Liza

    This afternoon, I was waiting to cross Sixth Avenue, and I stepped off the curb a second or so after I got the “walk” signal. As soon as I walked forward, three guys on bikes ran through the red light and yelled at me to get out of the way.

    So I screamed “MAYBE DON’T RUN THE FUCKING RED LIGHT” at them. That would probably not classify as a ladylike reaction.

  • Carol

    Where do I begin? Let me count the ways…

    Being the daughter of leftist parents who never doubted that men and women are equal?
    Insisting that girls were just as smart as boys?
    Wearing jeans in high school? Dress code said, I still remember, “Jeans are unfeminine and should not be worn.” I argued it said should (recommendation), not must (requirement).
    Telling my college counselor where to stick it when he told me I’d want to get married and should not pursue a degree in biology?
    At Cal, handing out political leaflets in Sproul Plaza, some guy said “no thanks, sweetie” and I bellowed in a voice that resounded from one end of the campus to the other, “MY NAME IS NOT SWEETIE, ASSHOLE!!!!!!!” Years later, a friend still laughs over that.
    Pissing off guys in college calculus by having the highest average in the class for 3 semesters while they solemnly told me women can’t do math?
    Pissing off more guys by knowing more about (male) sports than they do?


    Being a founding member of Berkeley Female Liberation and the Women’s National Abortion Action Coalition, being a volunteer escort at a Portland clinic. Being a supporter of Planned Parenthood. Marching for abortion and ERA. Because we all have different abilities and interests but fighting for equality is our most rebellious unladylike activity.

    • jes

      Love your comments! You rock!

      I also pissed off many a male classmate by getting top grades in my calculus, discrete math & computer science classes. Setting the curve too high … how unfeminine!

  • Rebecca Murtha

    I was in my school’s restroom this year when I heard the late bell ring. I hurried to the security office to get a pass to class because, at my school, if you are late you need to get a pass before going to class. Or at least that used to be the system. Now, they just take you to in school suspension. Once I realized that I was expected to sit in an empty classroom for an hour rather than going to my English class and, you know, learning, I got up and left. About half way through class, the security guard arrived and pulled me out of class. I was so angry that he had created this idiotic system that kept me from going to Calculus just because I lingered in the bathroom for a moment too long that when he asked me why I was late I told him, “I had to stuff a tampon.” He seem a bit shocked but asked “Well, why didn’t you ask your last teacher so that you could go to the bathroom?” I looked at him and replied, “I wasn’t expecting it, if that’s what you’re asking.”

  • Kirsten White

    Insofar as young women are not supposed to promote and vivify healthy, feminist sexuality, be sexually desirous (not *desirable*) or pass gas, my unladylike moment #1 is passing gas during a blowjob, then laughing uproariously for many moons.

    Insofar as young women are not supposed to be loud and subvert the kyriarchy with unabashed temerity, unladylike moment #2 is leading a walkout from my high school in protest of the third anniversary of the Iraq War, when I was 17.

  • Gina

    I acted unladylike when I told my conservatively bias history teacher that he wasn’t presenting the facts. He reacted by telling me to shut up, young lady.

  • Norah Langweiler

    I can belch louder than anyone I know.

    Also, I can readily admit a good shit when I have one.
    I’ll bet Rep. West hasn’t had one of those in quite some time with that enormous stick up his ass.

  • Teresa

    Told my pharmacist off for telling me to “just use a backup method like everyone else” while the pharmacy re-ordered when they were out of my brand of birth control pills.

    Threw produce at men harassing me in the street.

    Gave this talk –

  • Giselle Renarde

    Gosh, I’ve done so many unladylike things it’s hard to choose just one…but I’m going to go with not shaving my legs. Let me tell you, it bugs the hell out of my mother.

    Everything else that springs to mind might come across as petty, vengeful, or violent…like pushing people on the subway when I ask them (politely) to move and they don’t, or swearing at [fill in the blank--motorists, litterbugs, random assholes], or opening my own damn doors in the face of “after you, m’lady” dumbass dorks (Sisters are doin’ it for themselves, loser!).

    …or, earning a living writing erotic fiction?


  • EyesofMercy

    I married another lady

  • Hayley S.

    Clogging multiple toilets, talking openly about sex with my friends, Having a mouth like a sailor, so many things.
    Mostly just not putting up with bigoted people, especially men. I told one off a while back who was so homophobic and would come to class everyday having some kind of “faggot” joke. One day he said “I don’t get all those straight people hanging out with gay people, it’ll just turn them gay” and I just sarcastically replied “Yeah cause when I hang out with tall people, I get taller.” (I’m 5’2 haha) This resulted in the entire class pelting me with bible verses (The joys of living in Tennessee) but it made him shut up and he never ever did it again.

  • A Viescas

    Ran for the “Mr. College” pageant on behalf of my club, with some advice I got from a drag king workshop, a trip to Goodwill, and duct tape.

    Not only was it the most fun I’ve ever had giving a public performance, it was the first time I took genuine pride in my appearance.

  • Third Wave Housewife

    Today? This week? In recent memory? This is not an easy question.

    Well there was the time I explained to a room full of a hundred people how to safely stretch the anus for a vigorous fuckin’ (among other unladylike things), or the time I planned and executed an event called “Condom Casino” for 400 people and brandished a huge floppy purple dildo in the face of anyone who pissed me off/failed my “Condom Challenge.”

    Also, stretching one’s anus for a vigorous fuckin’ also makes epic farts completely inevitable. I started laughing so hard (which, naturally, brought on more epic farts) I couldn’t continue for so long that that Mister folded his arms and said, “I’ll wait” while I got over my giggle/fart fit.

  • Shereen

    I was in Damascus, Syria visiting family and my aunt, my mother, and i had decided to smoke some hookah before going to an appointment to visit a lawyer about a dispute between my grandmother and the national electric company.upon arrival i had vomited outside the door of this guys office (from smoking too much-weird i know) and gone up, only to find this “lawyer” talking out of his ass saying that women could never be a judge because they are too emotional. Now i was sweating because i was feeling like total shit and i looked aghast, holding my glass of water and i said in english and quite confrontational (because this guy does NOT know a lick of english – it intimidates). “what about Sotomayor” and he looks at me and looks at my mom and asks what i said and she laughs and she translates saying “well that is the one of the heads of the supreme court (the highest court in the U.S.) and she’s a lady”. He then looks blankly grumbling well they make women different in the U.S. – i was pleased with my victory although I could have retorted that my mother was raised in syria and is one of the most stable people i know – a lot more reasonable than any male that i have ever come to contact with. so there, mr. man.

    • Dasha

      When I’ve read this, my thoughts were “that’s pretty badass”, and then I realized that “unladylike” is often synonymous with “badass” to some people.

  • Jasmine

    During the last few weeks of my first pregnancy, I was really flatulent. One night my husband and I were in bed, he was going to sleep and I was reading a book. I passed gas and as a joke pulled the covers over his head. Childish I know, but we both had a good laugh

  • Liz Mariani

    Told the truth about Abuse.
    Took a break for Myself.
    Loved my curves.
    Reminded powerful people that poets are powerful.
    Took a break.
    Opted out of conditioning to self-destruct.
    Used words to heal and bridge, feed and connect.
    Listened to my gut.

  • bookaholic

    I find the word lady to be a bit of an insult. I’m not a delicate hypochondriac from the upper classes confined by Victorian morals. I’m a woman with goals, and I’m not going to let anyone tell me I’m not. I’m a sailor and have a mouth like one. I laughed when my Gran told me that she was glad I liked such a ladylike activity because when I’m sailing I do my part in a sport that’s far from relaxing on a yacht. I attended SlutWalk and loved it. I cook and am crafty but do that for myself and my own satisfaction, not in the hopes of “making a man happy some day.”

    • Shereen

      bookaholic, i suppose this comment is directed towards myself seeing as i am the one who used lady (rather than woman, or person with a vagina, or whatever). Sorry if i insulted you, that was not my intention, and i hoped that with reading the entirety of my post one would assume that my intention was not to insult women. I should be more sensitive with my words then.

      personally i have no problem calling myself a lady and also say that i can fart the nastiest farts in all of the lands with pits hairier than my dads (i often joke with my parents that i will braid them one day). I am a pretty and powerful lady/woman/human/vessel of an etherial spirit/whatever. subjectivity is a drag, aint it.

  • Nova

    My friends and I were all sitting at lunch one day, and some of the boys near the end of the table were having a conversation about gayness. I happened to overhear one of them say, “Lesbians are only okay if they’re hot. If they’re ugly, then forget it.”
    I immediately leaned forward to look them in the eye and said, in a voice so deep and serious that I scared myself, “THAT. Is the dumbest shit I think I’ve ever heard you say. Just so ya know.”
    I am normally a very quiet and soft-spoken person, so everyone just kind of looked at me for a second before agreeing with me and backing me up.
    Nate apologized for his ignorant comment, and I smiled and proudly finished my lunch.

  • Daniel Ballow

    There is nothing uniquely “male or female” except our biology.
    Either redefine “lady” and “gentleman,” or bury those concepts like the dinosaurs they are.

    I’m a dude, so you’d THINK this thread doesn’t apply to me, but I’m thinking we should have a separate “least un-gentlemanly thing you’ve done.”

  • Jennifer

    I pooped! That can’t be very ladylike.

  • Sigga

    There are a few, one is probably going on a week long horse trek, travelling on horseback with some other people, driving a herd of around 40 horses with us in rugged terrain, crossing glacial rivers and lava fields etc and through it all very irregular access to running water. I think I managed one shower in that week of riding 5-7 hours a day etc.

    ..and it was awesome.

    Also I really like doing pad work at the gym, aka practicing punching things. I have no desire whatsoever to actually ever hit people but it feels satisfying to work with my trainer on the pads.

  • Kathryn

    I talk openly of how I feel about abortion, same sex marriage, rape and a whole lot more both in private and public even when I know certain people around me aren’t interested or are obviously uncomfortable about me speaking my mind on these issues (including my partner.)

    I’m not quite 22 yet, but I’ve already realized that I’m going to talk about what I want, when I want to, no matter who is standing with or around me at the time. I just made a period joke this past weekend to a room of men and women.

    Oh, and I recently admitted to my partner of 4+ years my slightly embarrassing and definitely unladylike-like sexual fantasies.

  • Alterant Oceanid

    I very rarely “act like a lady”- I’ve been told I swear too much, enjoy/want sex too much, get angry and yell.

    The time I can recall feeling pretty bad ass was at a college party and this big guy, who was a well-known conservative on campus, had a bottle that wasn’t a twist off and he couldn’t figure out how he was going to open it. I grabbed it from him , angled the cap against the side of the mini fridge and gave it a good whack. Bottle cap popped off into my hand and I handed it right back to him without missing a beat in the conversation the group was having. I think his jaw might have hit the floor.

    I think Rep. Wasserman Schultz should make Storm Large’s “Ladylike” her new theme song, although its use of an expletive would probably not be ladylike…

  • Melissa Lynnette

    Even though they raised me to be a “lady” — I was a debutante, I got sent to charm school, French all girl school — they somehow forgot to give me the “desperate to make babies” pill.

    I have no desire to engage in “robust childbearing” and I mentioned that, like I’ve been doing since I was 16, to this guy who was trying to chat me up on Saturday and he reacted like I had just admitted that I enjoy eating deep fried infants. I’d say that’s pretty un lady-like. But I still know which fork to use when I’m eating those delicious deep fried infants.

    Toss in nude modeling, a healthy sexual appetite, the vocabulary of a sailor and my penchant for whiskey and I don’t know why they haven’t come to repossess my ball gowns. I hope they don’t. I really, really like them.

  • Patrice Cochran

    My husband affectionately describes me as a “Hellcat”. LOL. I agree completely. But where do I start? I don’t sit all “dainty” and “ladylike” cause it’s fu**ing uncomfortable. When I sit, I sit wide. Probably why I hate wearing dresses. My girl’s gotta breathe too you know? When I’m not happy, I don’t smile and when men tell me to smile they get a swift southern style “F*CK YOU!” And if you couldn’t tell by now, I also have a mouth like a sailor (I am a NAVY WIFE after all!!). When people do dumb sh** I let them know. Before my husband and I got married, he used to try the system to see what kind of woman I was. He’d try me in public cause he thought I wouldn’t respond, you know because it’s unladylike to have an arguement, frown, or be anything other than happy, and silent in public. Yeah, long story short, he doesn’t do it anymore. I’ve never held my tongue, and he and every woman and man in that mall that day found it out the hard way.

  • nicolechat

    Ha! This is a fun game. And hard to answer because what the fuck does lady-like even mean and how do you measure it quantifiably?

    I can tell you the most unladylike thing I’ve done lately: pissing behind a tree in a skirt with my panties pulled down on a side street at like 7 pm (sun still up) on Canada Day. People were walking by, but I didn’t care – I friggin had to pee!

  • Mollie

    I find every one of the entries on this thread inspiring me to be even more “unladylike” and just be who I am.

    My history of not being a lady spans all of my almost-40 years. Here are a few highlights: I shaved my head and let my armpit hair grow out. I can outbelch, outfart and outsmart most of the men I know. I’m really noisy during sex (soooooo not ladylike!). I talk back regularly, especially when ignorance and bigotry are spewing from someone’s mouth. I swear like a sailor. I dress like a boy. I like to punch things. And the least lady like part? I love doing and being everything I just listed.

  • tanyad

    I have many dudely hobbies, like fixing cars, plumbing, drywalling, and painting. I do swear a lot and have lots of sex or joke about it anyway. I never wear female drag like dresses or make up or any of that stuff.

  • sri

    Hmm… Being a bicycle courier and loudly opposing all the crap misogynistic jockeying by the men all working hard.

    being an excellent welder that large “tough”men sneered at….

    “using big words little ladies shouldn’t know”…

    being smart and capable in male-dominated situations in general.

    the list goes on.

    • sri

      all while working hard myself, that meant to read.

  • Meghan

    I also sit wide (guess I just hate having to keep my legs closed).
    I have several tattoos, which some would argue isn’t ladylike (even if a trip to the beach revealed that damn near everyone has tattoos, jeez).
    I change my own flat tires.
    I play video games (also not actually that rare for a lady to do, but lots of people still seem to think so).
    I enjoy math (almost minored in it, but the only Calc I class is at 8:30 in the morning, and I am not prepared to calculus that early).
    I travel the world without the company of a man.
    I enjoy watching porn and reading/writing erotica.
    I believe that when walking with another person, whoever gets to the door first should hold it, regardless of sex/gender.
    I play roleplaying games (like D&D, World of Darkness, etc.) and sometimes roleplay male characters.

  • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    What? Whenever I swear like a teamster, practice combative moves, smear menstrual blood and semen on my husband’s chest, photograph it and call it art, loudly confront ableists in the middle of Union Square, kick over a garbage can on frat types harassing sex workers in the meat packing district*, or roam around my neighborhood with a reinforced baseball bat I found on the street, I TOTALLY do it like a lady. The biker guys we hang out with sometimes told me so.

    *This was back when there were those heavy wire garbage cans, and when the meat packing district actually contained meat packing.

  • Rocky

    - Taught a group of men how to change a tire on an SUV.
    – Wore pants to school in Catholic high school.
    – I love classic cars and hope to restore one someday.
    – Playing video games.

    • Betsy

      Yeah, I don’t hesitate to change my own tires or make my own simple bike repairs, either. It’s all part of being a grownup.

  • Betsy

    Hard to choose from these top three:

    *Being the best student in math and science classes and not even thinking about dumbing down
    *Not hesitating to give the finger in traffic to drivers who have earned it
    *Using the men’s room when the line for the women’s is huge

    I can also be a girl: wearing dresses and girly shoes, enjoying cooking and girly crafts, being extra-nice to dudes when they deserve it, etc. But I would feel like less of a person if I didn’t do the above three.

  • Kristina

    “Unladylike” things that I think are awesome:

    Being on my last excavation and coming home dirtier than all of the men, and being the last to take a shower because I wasn’t all the concerned about it.

    Drinking my best friend and his brother under the table.

    Standing up on the airplane back from Ireland and yelling at the pretentious asshole in front of me who smacked his wife because she was snoring.

    I openly tell my male roommate when I’m going to diddle my skittle so as to not be interrupted.

    I also pissed on a mountain in Ireland and fell in it… I laughed my ass off.

    Let’s all keep being us and let the nay-sayers be blocked in to their own little gender/sex stereotypes!

    • Christine

      You are a badass

  • Christine

    - Yelling “fuck you” after some cat callers (which makes my mother giggle)
    – Driving bigger equipment than most men ever will
    – Disagreeing with my male profs when they piss me off
    – Doing better in math than the boys
    – Doing better in logic and critical thinking than the boys
    – Not being ashamed to talk about sex loudly in public places
    – I’ve stopped wearing a bra unless I’m working out, and I have started loving my body
    – Fixing my own damned car
    – Telling the electrician that I am in fact not an idiot and know what the hell is wrong
    I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying not to be a lady, and I’m rather proud of that

  • emmie

    When I was in seventh grade, our class had to do an assignment, (can’t remember what the hell it was, it’s been years) but anyway, I was in a group with two other people, a boy and girl. We were outside and I had something in my mouth, like a hair or something, and I spit, and stringy spit started coming out, it was kind of gross but really funny! The girl in the group started laughing, and I laughed with her. The boy said, “wow, that wasn’t very ladylike”. I don’t remember if I said anything, but I do remember thinking, what the hell! Who cares if stringy saliva started coming out, I wanted that damn hair out of my mouth! And it was funny anyway.

    I have done other stuff, especially when I was still in High School, like pretend I’m a guy who is jacking off, that has made some of my female friends laugh, and the guys just kind of snicker but their faces turn red. One of them said, “why are you doing that?” And I told him, “I’ve heard you make sexual jokes about women, so I’m just returning the favor.” He didn’t say anything after that, but it was really funny.