Your Reputation, Miss, Precedes You

A scene from the BBC movie based on Elizabeth Gaskell\'s novel North and South

This is a scene from the BBC movie North and South (I read the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell this semester and loved it!)  These were the days when a woman was rarely associated with property or career the way women are known today. The most a woman could hope for was the satisfaction of a good reputation. Her reputation, in fact, was under constant scrutiny. The slightest indiscretion could cost her the chance at a profitable marriage. A moral or social misstep and the Miss could be rejected by all good society.

I’m so glad times have changed!

Or have they? It seems to me that our reputation is still the primary signifier for a woman. The ironic thing is that we are constantly trying to further our educations or move up in our careers because we can, and all the time, it is still our reputation that defines us. Doctor, senator, athlete, artist, what we do is not nearly as important as how we do it and with what kind of attitude.

Maybe a die-hard feminist might argue that we’ve accomplished nothing as a gender if we haven’t managed to transcend this definition, but I think it simply reinforces the truth that Paul believed when he wrote, and I paraphrase: “I can have it all, do it all, and be it all, but if I don’t have it, do it, and be it with love — I’m nothing.”

This stuff has me thinking. What is my signifying character trait? How do people describe me to their friends? What will my daughters say about me when I’m old? What is the reputation that defines me?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Your Reputation, Miss, Precedes You

  1. Tracy

    Great post! I hope we never get to the place where our reputations, our integrity, no longer matter. I think the Bible drives home the point that in the end it’s not what we’ve accomplished that’s going to matter nearly as much as how we’ve treated others in the process. (The constant scrutiny, however, we can do without!!)

  2. Kathy Nickerson

    I think your rhetorical question was answered at kindergarten graduation last week by the little girl who said,”When I grow up I want to be Miz White, becasue she is a worshipper.”

    love,
    mom

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