Manners and the Women’s March

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Copyright Victoria Pratt

I attended the Women’s March in New York on Saturday and was thrilled that despite the enormous crowd and extremely slow movement, New Yorkers were at their absolute best. There was no pushing or rude remarks, people trying to get across the march were allowed to move through easily. I even encountered some tourists trying to get across to Grand Central with several large suitcases. When those suitcases inevitably fell over, people stopped to help them right them and get across to the train station. I had intended to write a whole post about it and then about how you don’t have to be polite to people who actively seek to harm you. But then I started reading a whole lot more about how the March made many groups feel excluded and felt that those discussions were better left to people much more informed than me.

One thing that did really strike me about my experience that also relates to etiquette, is the importance of invitations in life. We would be completely isolated in our lives if we never extended or accepted invitations. And sometimes those of us who are inclined to stay home and binge watch The Crown yet again, can be lured away by a tempting invitation. The same holds true with political action. It’s soooo easy to say to yourself, “I don’t know where to go or what to say to get involved, so I might as well just stay home.”

When all my girlfriends were going to Washington with their mothers to March and I wasn’t extended a particular invitation from them (which is fine! for the record! I love you guys!), I thought to myself that getting to DC by myself was too much trouble and that I would just sit this one out. Then I found out that the New York March was also happening, and I also said to myself “no one else I know mentioned going, so I think I will sit this one out.” But then I realized what a big thing it was going to be and decided I HAD to go. But I still didn’t want to go alone. So I reached out to a bunch of people who were going to be around and asked them to come with me. And they did! And some of them might not have if I hadn’t asked. So, I think, that beyond your own political actions, one of the most important things you can do is do that action, but also bring another person along with you. Now you’ve doubled the number of people! And then that can go on exponentially! Host a get together where everyone sits around and calls their senators. Invite some friends to go to a Town Hall with you. Get a group and go to the NEXT big march.

Jaya reminds me that the one caveat is that if someone doesn’t want to go because they feel that the march marginalizes them or makes them feel excluded, or many of the other very good reasons why they wouldn’t feel comfortable attending, then of course, don’t push them on it. And then see what you can do to make them feel more welcome at similar marches, or just in general.

I know that people are grown ups and should be able to do what’s right on their own. But seriously, people are so incredibly lazy most of the time. There are whole memes about the excitement of cancelling plans. Peer pressure really works! So please, send an invitation to the revolution and hopefully the thanks you receive will be bounteous.

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Asking After Invitations

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

A friend of mine  her daughter had a wedding. I asked why I didn’t get invited. My friend said that I really wasn’t involved in her daughters life. So that’s why I was not invited to the wedding.
The daughter got pregnant on her honeymoon , and since the wedding the daughter has moved
Now the daughter is having a baby shower, and now I’m getting invited to the baby shower.
I just don’t understand the reasoning behind the whole thing. Nothing has changed since the wedding, I don’t understand why I’m getting this invite to the baby shower.
 I don’t want to go especially since it’s 1.5 hours away.
And what is my reason for not going? I keep thinking she told me I wasn’t involved in her daughters life. That’s why I wasn’t invited to the wedding. So why now the baby shower??
And should I give a gift?
I am friends with the mom of the daughter.
Thanks,

Confused About Invitations

 

Our Take

Jaya: So right, my initial suspicion is that her friend was making an effort to include her after she complained about not being invited to the wedding.

Who knows, it could be a blatant gift grab, but that just seems like the most likely explanation.

Victoria: Yeah, I think if you complain to someone about not being invited to something, they feel like they have to invite you to the next thing.

That’s kind of why you aren’t supposed to ask about invitations.

Jaya: Right. Like, are you asking because you thought you were involved more in her daughter’s life and wish you were invited? Or because you were under the assumption you had a place in the wedding no matter what?

Victoria: Yeah, I think also that as more and more couples are paying more for their weddings we’ve had a shift in the attendees to being more about the couple’s friends and less about the parents friends. But a lot of people don’t realize that and assume that because they are friends with the parents, they will automatically be invited.

Jaya: Exactly. It is what it is, and it’s just a good reminder that you should never assume anything.

Victoria: Ha, yeah, assuming invites to weddings is bound to lead only to heartbreak.

Jaya: Regarding the baby shower though, yeah, it seems like an olive branch given that the LW expressed her displeasure about not being invited to the last thing.

Victoria: Yeah, for sure.

Jaya: But the same rules apply–you don’t have to go if you don’t want to.

Victoria: Exactly!

Jaya: Do you have to send a gift? In the sense of you never HAVE to send a gift but it’s societally expected to send a gift?

Victoria: I believe that you don’t have to send a gift for a shower you can’t attend. A wedding is technically the only thing you are strongly “supposed” to send a gift for even if you can’t attend. Because it’s an honor to be invited? It’s a weird thing.

Jaya: Very weird.

But yeah, I think the ultimate lesson here is don’t be surprised if you get invited to more things if you complain about not getting invited to things.

Victoria: Hahaha yeah, exactly

Jaya: And, this is just me speculating, but it sounds like the LW is still feeling hurt and slighted about not being invited to the wedding. Maybe a good step would be to talk to her friend about their relationship and her expectations.

Victoria: Yeah!

Jaya: Any other thoughts?

Victoria: Not really. I realize that wedding invitations are super fraught, but there’s a lot that goes into wedding planning and honestly, you can’t take it personally if you aren’t invited.

Jaya: Exactly. There are budgets, and different sides of the family coming in with their own expectations and guest lists, and the couple’s ideas of what they want the day to be like. After planning a wedding, I will never be upset about not being invited to one ever again.

Victoria: I will, but silently.

Jaya: Hahahaha