2005-10-13

Intolerance: Modern Manners

Modern manners are now more likely to be judged on how we behave at the gym, write our e-mails and kiss people when we greet them, rather than whether we set the perfect dinner table or send thank-you letters, according to a new guide for women. Changing lifestyles in the new millennium mean that women are now having to navigate their way through a range of new social situations which require their own particular etiquette. The guide to 'noughtiquette' in the magazine 'Good Housekeeping' is aimed at helping readers with modern dilemmas, such as the rising popularity of 'social kissing' when saying hello or goodbye. Women should 'air kiss' if wearing lipstick and avoid kissing anyone on the lips apart from their partner, the guide advises. It also cautions against kissing their plumber, physician, boss or anyone else with whom they have a strictly professional relationship. The report also steers readers through computer etiquette, warning 'never, ever use a smiley face in an e-mail, particularly to someone whose respect you wish to command'. The ever-growing popularity of gym attendance has also led to new questions over behaviour. The guide points out that, while it is perfectly acceptable for a woman to be naked in a communal changing room, doing stretching exercises in the nude is clearly distasteful. A spokesman for 'Good Housekeeping' said:
'"Dress down Fridays", Internet "netiquette", [and] mobile phones -- fewer than 20 years ago these features of modern life did not exist. 'So as these and other realities of life in the "Noughties" have entered our communal consciousness, we've had to fumble our way towards creating new rules of etiquette that take them into account.'
The guide also provides some sharp answers to rude questions. If someone asks:
'Why don't you have children?' it suggests you reply: 'I prefer not to discuss my uterus at parties.'
Other tips include not ogling other men in front of a partner and (despite what they may have seen on 'Sex In The City' the US American TV comedy series) women should not discuss their sex life in graphic detail with 'The Girls'. Finally, it warns that no woman should ever have a 'trendy' ringtone on her mobile phone. Mr.Charles Molsley, spokesman for 'Debrett's', publishers of the definitive 'New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners', said fast-changing fashions and technology have left many people confused about polite behaviour.
'It is only six years since our last edition, but we are working on one for next year,' he said. 'Is it acceptable to send messages on your "Blackberry" in the middle of a meal? That is the kind of thing that has to be addressed if western civilisation is not to go into terminal decline.'
Today's social dilemmas The rising popularity of restaurant dining means that quibbling over the bill because you did not have a starter has now replaced using 'The Wrong Knife' as the major dining 'faux pas'. High divorce rates and complicated family set-ups mean that the question of whether to invite your ex-spouse or former stepchildren to your wedding causes more concern than who sits at which end of the table. Increasing alcohol consumption means drinking etiquette revolves around how many bottles of wine you should bring to a dinner party rather than whether you should serve brandy or port at the end of a meal. Smokers must decide whether to suffer withdrawal pangs or go out into the cold, rather than whether to offer round the packet when they light up. 'It's Modern Manners That Maketh The Woman', Fiona Macgregor, The Scotsman, 2005-10-13, Th

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