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I wasn’t sure if the denotation would bear me out as much as the connotation would on this one, but low and behold they both agree with me. I should preface this by saying I am not a feminist. Yes, I am a woman and I think women should be afforded equal rights in the workplace and so on. I am certainly not a misogynist, nor an “independent” woman. If I had to qualify myself, I would say that I am a lady. So, if any of this offends your sensibilities, blame it on my vintage 1950’s “ladyness,” if that makes you feel better.

The dictionary definitions we will concentrate on for demand are as follows:

  • something claimed as due
  • a seeking or state of being sought after
  • the requirement of work or the expenditure of a resource

The definitions of command I want to work with are as follows:

  • to exercise a dominating influence over; have command of
  • to have at one’s immediate disposal
  • to demand or receive as one’s due
  • to direct authoritatively.

For those of you who don’t like to read my long posts, the gist of this is: When it comes to respect, command supercedes demand in getting the desired results.

I have heard women for years going around demanding respect and that men treat them a certain way. They have demanded a lot of things, many of them successfully (at least to what they were trying to accomplish). We have better employment opportunities and are taken more seriously at work, although there is still room for progress. We have demanded the right to choose when it comes to childbearing, and have gotten it, though that battle still rages on. We have demanded to be treated equal to men, and boy, have we gotten it.

The thing is, we don’t want it. Women are inherently different to men, and in certain situations, we are demanding to be treated like ladies–soft, delicate creatures that men should treasure, instead of like other men in the street. It seems that by our demands–for respect, to control reproduction, for more money, for equal rights–we have somehow defeminized ourselves. It seems that men have taken it too far. Now, they won’t hold a door for you or stop cursing around you like sailors. They expect you to pay for your dinner and theirs. Some think they don’t need to bother with the niceties of dating; after all, we are all “sexually revolutionized” and don’t have to wait for marriage to express our sexual desires within the confines of a loving relationship.

I don’t have a lot of problems with the above mentioned things. I don’t get cat called on the street or have to deal too often with over aggressive men. I am like many other women– I work a full time job to support myself, have a college degree, everything I have I bought it, blah blah. Yet men open doors for me, offer me their umbrella, make sure I get to my car safely. Men alter their coarse behavior around me because they realize I don’t appreciate it. All with very little verbal coaching from me, if any. I’m just a commander.

The nature of a demand, according to the above mentioned definitions, is such that it requires work and expenditure for something you claim you should already be afforded. Basically, this means you are working for something that you should be getting for free, something that is due you as a matter of course. You are seeking after it, boycotting and picketing for it, but you just aren’t getting it.

Don’t get me wrong; there are some things that you have to demand, that no one is going to give to you just because it’s yours by rights, and I understand that. I’m not putting down the advances that women have made. I’m just saying that sometimes demands aren’t fulfilled, just like in the supply and demand relationship in economics.

Command is different. Soldiers know better than to contradict the commanding officer, even more so if they step out of bounds and receive the punishment. A commanding officer never has to give supporting arguments as to why you should follow instructions; they expect that their instructions will be carried out. Command works by influence, not by brow beating. Influence is to alter by indirect or intangible means. In other words, there’s just something about you. It’s not telling someone how to treat you verbally or physically forcing them to, it’s indirect.

How do you command respect? Expect what you project. If you want respect, you should project respect. Everything about you should be saying “respect me,” the least of which being your lips. I dress in a way that allows me to be respected. I respect other people. I reward displays of respect with a smile and a thank you. If you don’t respect me, I don’t demand that you do, I simply remove myself from your presence, and most men get the hint. I don’t have to brow beat or nag them not to smoke or drink in front of me, to stop cursing or treating me like one of the guys. I don’t act like a man or think like a man. Everything about me says lady, and that’s what they respond to.

I’m making this out to be easier than it is for some women. It’s been integral to me since I was young. It’s how I was raised. But I will give some more concrete tips and thoughts after work.

The bottom line, though: expect what you project, not what you demand. Or, actions speak louder than words.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comments section.