Excerpted from It’s My Pleasure, a book by Maria and Maya Rodale
- Women should be seen and not heard. John Adams once laughed at his wife Abigail imploring him to “remember the ladies” as he and his comrades drafted the Declaration. Women continued to speak up, and eventually joined them in the hallowed halls of government. If the universe meant for women to be silent, we wouldn’t have vocal chords. So speak up.
- Always put others first. Sometimes helping yourself is helping others. Every airplane manual says you should put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. We are not advocating unwavering selfishness, but by making sure your own needs are satisfied, you’ll have more to give to others.
- Men don’t like women smarter than they are. Throughout history the women who captured the hearts of historical heroes were those who conversed as well as they kissed. These women spoke multiple languages, studied history, philosophy, literature, and music. Some were consummate politicians even though they didn’t hold formal office. These women were respected and loved. Do not stifle your intelligence for the sake of any man, woman, or friend.
- Don’t ask questions. Obey. Blind obedience leads to stagnation; daring to ask questions and searching for answers makes life far more interesting. “What if” questions can keep us up all night, but any innovation started because someone wondered if it could be done, and tried to do it.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Sure, some things are better left unsaid, and being kind, truthful, and polite goes a long way. But this “rule” often is used to shut people up and keep them from saying things that are potentially enlightening but challenging to the status quo.
- “The husband and wife are one and that one is the husband.” This “lovely” idea was voiced by English jurist Sir William Blackstone in the 1700s and was used to justify laws that forbade a woman to own property, get divorced, or have authority over her own person. The husband was “lord” and “master.” We can only imagine how many women felt trapped due to their lack of “self-same sovereignty.” Perhaps instead the husband and wife can be one, composed of two loving individuals, neither one dominating over the other.
- A woman should never ask a man out on a date. This outdated rule reinforces the stereotype that men chase and women wait by the phone all night. If you want something to happen, often you have to do it yourself. He might say yes. If he says no, at least you tried. If he gets his boxers in a twist, you’re better off without him.
- What fashion says is “in.” If you like something and feel comfortable in it, buy it and wear it. Create your own style. If you don’t like something, don’t wear it just to be trendy. The fashion police don’t actually exist.
- Keep your hands to yourself. Don’t be afraid to show affection. Studies confirm what we know in our hearts—friendly, loving affection makes us happy and healthy. Studies also show that babies and animals fail to thrive if they don’t get some good cuddling. This need never goes away, so don’t even bother trying to dismiss it. Reach out and touch someone (legally, and consensually, of course).
Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels,Explained. She has a Master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.Her latest book is The Tattooed Duke. Learn more at mayarodale.com.