Welcome To The Bitchery
Welcome To The Bitchery
This is a platform for User Generated Content. G/O Media assumes no liability for content posted by Kinja users to this platform.

Manners - classist or important?

So, I’m just curious. I can only speak for my own privileged, white experience but I know anyone can learn “social graces”. However, is expecting them classist inherently?

I was raised by somewhat uppity parents who came from humble beginnings. Though poor, my grandmothers took pride in their children having good table manners. Thus, I learned good manners - not overly formal at home but still good - and am able to successfully sit through a meal with multiple forks like it is NBD.

My husband, though, led me to think he was raised by wolves (he was not, he has lovely parents) based on his rather abhorrent table manners. Our first date led us to eating at a sushi place (which was lovely) and while I cannot for the life of me use chop sticks, he was right at home with them (he loooooooves Asian food). But the next date, it was a whole ‘nother story. I let it go by deciding that I really liked him and I was the one in the wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ve taken it upon myself to teach our child and my stepkids about how to properly eat in public. My husband would gnaw on a bone. He would suck food off of his fingers. He would smack his lips and go to slurp his soup. After spending enough time around me and my family and after an illuminating conversation my BiL, his wife, my husband and myself, he has come to realize his family was not much for table manners but that social graces would be expected of him if he intended to “keep up” with where I was headed and where he ended up heading job-wise and not hinder himself in certain social situations. My husband’s brother was basically trained to eat properly by his now-wife because she was very wordly and he was, too, but his manners did not reflect this. They are both execs now for a large company. Both have to have dinner meetings on a regular business. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to show up to dinner without a clue when your hosts were even more well-heeled than you, I thought. So, finally I felt somewhat vindicated and decided all the kids would learn how to act in “polite company” so that this would not harm them unduly.

But is this all inherently classist? I know there is a lot of cultural capital wrapped up into eating properly in polite company but is that so bad? I have misophonia so part of this is me just NOT being able to hear people slurp slurp slurp their drink or suck on their fingers. It’s gross and even with headphones on, my coworker slurping her drink EVERY SIP makes me stabby. Do I think that placing all of this emphasis on what is “classy” is fair? No. But at the same time, I will be damned if I let the kids make themselves somehow less marketable as hires and less-respected by certain types of people when they get older (and the older kids are old enough to to out to eat at a nice place now, which is cool). I hate “may I be excused” so we absolutely do not ask the kids for that and my husband and I both agree it’s better to teach them. But I’m sitting here thinking “am I an asshole?” for wanting to stab something every time my coworker slurps. My mind immediately thinks “were you raised by wolves?!” when I know there are lovely people who just don’t put emphasis on this stuff like my wonderful but rural, blue collar in-laws who rarely ever ate a meal together as a family and never went to any “fancy” restaurants and are just now letting me make them a medium rare steak because it’s better than super well.

But am I just a classist asshole? How were you raised? Did you get this all before you went off to school/took a job or did you learn it as you go? Do you teach your kids these things? If so, why?


Share This Story

Get our newsletter