RUDENESS NOW OUR DEFAULT POSITION
WE Australians are a bad-mannered lot. And feminism is partly to blame. Recently British writer Paul Theroux published 31 rules for international travel.
Unfortunately for us, Theroux’s Rule 8 stated that: “The Australian Book of Etiquette is a very slim volume.”
There are three main areas in which our manners have declined. First, very few people seated on public transport stand up for the elderly, the infirm or the pregnant.
Perhaps obsessive use of technology in the form of mobiles, headphones and social media is to blame.
But I think we use this as an excuse for basic rudeness. Our modern-day sense of entitlement states: “I have paid for a ticket. Therefore I deserve a seat, irrespective of who else is forced to stand.”
Second, our ability to use cutlery in the correct fashion is clearly on the wane. Too many Australians have adopted the American habit of chopping up their food first, then eating it with a fork used like a spoon.
Whatever happened to using a knife and fork together?
Finally, fewer and fewer men bother to hold doors open for women. That might be due to selfcentred rudeness, but feminism is also at fault. A younger woman I know reckons such door opening is a form of “gender discrimination”. To her any man who performs this act, once seen as basic good manners, is engaging in the subjugation of females.
In the areas of education, workforce participation and pay, gender equality is undoubtedly a good thing.
But must it come at the expense of social etiquette?
I don’t pretend to possess all the answers to CO2 reduction. Perhaps, as the Greens often tell us, our comparatively luxurious living standards (eg, electric lights on demand 24 hours a day, seven days a week) are unsustainable.
What I object to, however, is the ridiculous idea that we can wean ourselves off cheap coal without incurring considerable discomfort in the process. If the Carbon Tax Mk2 is indeed back on the agenda, Bill Shorten should have the guts to say who will suffer.
If he pretends otherwise, he’s lying — and we all know that politicians who lie rarely receive a second chance at the ballot box.