Why is there no "Ladies First" in China?

2020-01-16 | Elephant Guild original |

In more formal occasions, people always start with "Ladies and gentlemen". Why not "Gentlemen and ladies"?

This is a common international etiquette principle, "ladies first", that is, "lady first". This standard emerged in Western Europe, and was initially popular in western communication circles. It gradually became an international etiquette standard in the western-dominated contemporary world..

The "Ms. Priority" principle is manifested in all aspects of daily life, such as actively pushing the door open to let the lady go first, and ordering the meal by the lady first.

French society known for its romance and tenderness, "Ladies First" has a more interesting manifestation: seat ordering during meals, male guests are based on age and social status, and female guests are not based on age. This is because in France"All women are young, with special exceptions."

Similar social principles are missing in the traditional oriental society. Confucian ethics advocates respect for the old and the young, and the eastern society prefers to respect the old rather than the lady first.

As Lin Yutang said in "My Country and My People": "A well-educated Chinese person will not offend an elderly person for no reason, just as a Western gentleman will not intentionally offend a woman.", And respect for women is a courtesy of Western gentlemen.

Why did the West form such a tradition?

Imaginary Chivalry

It is generally believed that Ladies First was originally associated with the European medieval knight system, which is a kind of etiquette for the knight class. Search for "Ladies first" and the most relevant entry is "Chivalry" knight spirit.

However, when the class of knights first formed, there was no so-called knight spirit. Do n’t say "priority" to women, even basic respect may not exist. Like warriors and soldiers common in ancient wars, they were keen to burn.Plunder, try to search for the booty as much as possible. Women are probably only one of them in their eyes.

After the collapse of the Frank Empire, the large and small lords fought frequently. The knights not only harmed the civilians, but they may not have missed the church. It is against this background that the Catholic Church, which has gradually established authority, has proposed a series of ethics to restrict them.Later generations called it "the chivalry spirit."

From the vow of King Robert II of France reigned 987-1031, we can see the early form of chivalry :

I will not invade the church in any way. I will not harm unarmed priests or monks. I will not steal livestock. I will not attack serfs, servants, or merchants for ransom. Unless it is to recover debt, from MarchI wo n’t take a horse from anyone ’s pasture until Halloween. I wo n’t destroy the house unless there are knights in it. I wo n’t uproot the vines. I wo n’t attack the lady who travels alone and her maidI will not attack widows or nuns unless it is their fault. From Lent to Easter, I will not attack unarmed knights.

It does not infringe the church and the clergy is its first priority. Protecting women is not obvious. They are just a kind of civilians protected from war. They are far from the "Ms. Priority" treatment.


The revamp of chivalry is inseparable from the romantic treatment of bards and writers in the late Middle Ages.

In their writing, the goals pursued by the Cavaliers become honor and love. They are loyal, brave, and romantic, and the object of love is usually a lady. This love does not involve sensuality, has a strong ideal color, and isCalled "Knight's Love" or "Elegant Love."


For this change, German sociologist Norbert Elias made an incisive analysis.

With the evolution of the commodity economy and the fiscal and taxation system, the feudal system in the late Middle Ages began to disintegrate. The knight class that depended on the agricultural economy became increasingly poor, and had to rely on the increasingly powerful lords who were able to collect commodity circulation taxes, and the autocratic monarchs were taking shape..

The rich lords began to pursue civilization and upbringing, and gradually separated from the barbaric state of the early Middle Ages. But the lord himself still had to set an example by force, so the lord's wife became the leader of cultural activities, and assumed the celebrity,Bards, etc. frame the gate.

The hostess of the castle became the gold master of the bard, and the bard tried every way to please the hostess. The love of the romantic and loyal knight appeared in their pen, and under the joint efforts of countless colleagues and the hostess of the castle,Became the most popular theme of popular literature in Europe of that era.

The famous book "Don Quixote" imitates this kind of "knight love". When Don Quixote decided to travel around the Quartet as a knight, he first had to choose a sweetheart for himself. He believed that "the ranger knight who did not like himIt's like a dead tree with no leaves and no soul. "The importance of man to the knight can be seen.

Every time Don Quixote had a difficult victory, he asked the loser to meet his sweetheart Durcinia in order to show victory to the beauty. Whenever he encountered danger, he would meditate on the name of the beauty, Pray for the peerless peers "to help this knight who is in such a crisis to promote your generosity."

Ironically speaking, the more you see the real knight war, the more popular this fictional chivalry is. Its influence did not go away with the end of the Middle Ages. To this day, the heroes in people ’s impression still affect women.Special treatment.

Realistic needs of lady salon

After the Renaissance, with the development of the commodity economy and the increasing wealth of the nobles, cultural education has become more and more important in class status. The legendary romantic knight spirit has been more and more in real social communication.Recognition gradually evolved into social etiquette in high society.

Among them, the cultural salons of the 17th and 18th centuries played an important role.

A salon is a party where the host invites guests to participate and exchange ideas, knowledge and fun with each other. It originated in Italy in the 16th century and flourished in France in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In fact, it is not unreasonable to regard Sharon as a continuation of the medieval lord's wife to take the bard to frame the gate. From the beginning, the organizers of Sharon were mostly educated ladies and important patrons of the Renaissance art, Isa.Bella Esther and her aunt Elizabeth Gonzaga are considered the earliest salon owners.


The Salon Party emphasizes cultivation, participants must always pay attention to courtesy, elegance and honesty. This is not in coincidence with the chivalry spirit: The Marquise of Rambouillet, the organizer of the first famous salon in France, made reference to the Italian Cavalier Code and formulatedA set of salon etiquette rules.

For the next two hundred years, the popular salons in France followed the earlier model and etiquette: the noble ladies are both the organizer and the core of the salon. They are not arty, but they really have the knowledge and manners to invest in such a crowded place.They are respected both for financial resources and status, as well as for talking and behavior.


Literati Moker talked about literature and politics in the nobleman's living room, and some scholars with a low background also took this step into the high society. Thinkers in the Enlightenment period, such as Voltaire, Rousseau and others, were once regular guests at the noblewoman salon., These aristocratic husbands have also become the object of their frequent praise.

Rousseau is the son of a watchmaker. At every distressed moment, he is supported by a lady. The ladies have become the patron saints in his literary career, especially Mrs. Warren.

Rousseau's love for Mrs. Warren is often presented in a mad and pathological way. He will kiss the bed where Mrs. Warren sleeps, stroke and kiss the furniture and curtains belonging to Mrs. Warren, and hug her pastFloor, even swallowing the meat she just spit out.


The Lady Salon not only supported the creation of a group of literati, provided a place for them to communicate, but also directly affected the development of real politics.

It nurtured the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and with the shock of this series of political events, it changed the fashion of Europe. As part of its party etiquette, "Ladies First" was finally shaped as it is today, and it was adopted by the WestWidely accepted by the world.

Why is there no lady in China first

On the surface, the two things that constitute "women first" in Western history have similar existence in Chinese history.

The counterpart of the Western knight is the Chinese knight. The initial image of the knight is far better than the knight. When the knights in Europe were still fighting, the Chinese ranger had been portrayed as a hero of justice.

However, no matter how good the image is, knights are never part of normal order. They are separated from the mainstream society, usually secretly associate with brotherhood as the most important bond. In this state of life, the opposite sex is often a stumbling block., The Ranger community even has a clear "knight is not close" requirement.

For a thousand years, compared with the passionate knights, the Chinese knights seemed very ruthless.

The vast majority of women appearing in "Water Margin" are either "mother worms" and "domestic yaksha" images, or "red-faced evils" that forced heroes to break the law, which is the main reason they were forced to Liangshan. "Water Margin""The knights in the book also show little pity for Hong Xiangyu, but they kill them without any mercy.

"The Three Kingdoms" is even more typical. The Lancelot knight dared to hook up with King Arthur's wife, while the second brother Guan was standing outside the gate of Xunzi to read Spring and Autumn at night. Orion Liu An encountered the troubled Liu Bei, because he had nothing to entertain, he took his wifeKilled and gave Liu Bei to eat. After Liu Bei learned the truth, his response was to give his subordinates Liu An gold and silver.

In contrast to western salons, China also had literati free social activities, especially in the Ming and Qing dynasties. But the women who appeared on this occasion were not aristocratic women, but low-ranking singers.

The marriage of ancient Chinese scholars was often influenced by politics and family. It was rare to be free. The wives who came from well-known families were dignified and insufficiently talented. The famous prostitutes in the blue house are exactly the product of the literati aesthetic. They were taught to play piano and calligraphy from childhood.When he grew up, he was full of color and art, and he was very talkative. The people who were frustrated everywhere in family marriage, but faintly saw the appearance of love in the Qinglou.


Therefore, some famous singers often gather around a group of literati who are politically unsatisfactory or unfamiliar with the family to form a special social culture circle. Famous prostitutes and celebrities sing and reconcile easily and easily become a good thing. Late Ming Dynasty EastThe Lin Party members' assembly and rally has become such an exuberant song of color selection. "Banqiao Miscellaneous Records" states: "The grand event of this chapter is a chapter outside the literary war."

The writers may not disrespect the prostitutes. Mei Yujin even wrote a book "The Blue Clay Lotus", which is a biography of more than 200 prostitutes in the dynasty. However, depending on the status of the prostitute, it is impossible to help the literati to fly Huang Tengda.As a place of business, the Qinglou cannot establish a set of rules for etiquette for customers.

In the early twentieth century, only when the dynasty system in China was about to collapse began to officially import various Western codes, Ms. priority was also one of them.

text | Yan Liyuan

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