Home Featured Can Enitan Bereola Be Entrusted With Teaching Women How To Be Ladies?

Can Enitan Bereola Be Entrusted With Teaching Women How To Be Ladies?

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enitan bereola gentlewoman book review

I’ve noticed throughout my online writing career that writing about relationships was the gateway for most bloggers. I know Steve Harvey wasn’t the chief purveyor of relationship advice before he exploded onto the scene with Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Manbut it appeared to spark an increase in relationship-driven content written by men and targeted towards women. Male bloggers were handing women the keys to all the things men were thinking and women, after years of trying to figure it out for themselves, devoured the information. I’m not opposed to men giving women advice on what to do in relationships. Relationships can be murky waters and if someone is willing to hand someone else a compass, then by all means. I never, however, liked this notion of men telling women how to be women. Enter Enitan O. Bereloa II (hereinafter referred to as Bereola). If the name doesn’t sound familiar but you’re on twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen the #Pleasantries hashtag cascade down your timeline before. That’s all him.

His newest book Gentlewoman: Etiquette For a Lady, From a Gentleman has been released. Admittedly, I scoffed at both the title and its tagline. After all, what would a “gentleman” know about being a lady? An important distinction needs to be made though. Bereola’s book is rooted in the idea of teaching women how to be ladies…not how to be women. There are a couple different avenues to be traveled with this nuance. For one, you might not believe there’s a difference between a lady and a woman. Secondly, you might not feel “being a lady” is something to aspire to. At no time have I ever given thought to what it takes to be a “lady,” but I will say I’ve known and felt the difference between women I’ve considered “ladies” and “regular women.” In any event, reading this book left me with mixed emotions. I’ll start with what I liked.

The Good

Stretching to 300 pages in length, Bereola is focused on building self-esteem, pride, selflessness, and self-respect into the women who are reading. He quotes well-known figures, like Hilary Clinton, John Legend, and Eleanor Roosevelt, to talk up the beauty, grace, and importance of what women mean and how their treatment in society needs to match their importance. Whereas most books of this ilk seem to be heavily focused on breaking women down to build them back up, he is focused on canceling out the negative and reinforcing the positive.

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What surprised me the most were the portions of the book centered around relationships. Some of the advice given is legit. While dating, Bereola advises women to “...celebrate authenticity and be unapologetically you.” Bereola is of the mindset that women should “turn down [their] worth for no one. Life is about balance and sometimes the experience is just better with a woman on top.” His words and enthusiasm for boosting the confidence of women feel so sincere that in spite of the last statement looking sexual in meaning, it reads as if he just wants women to win.

In addition to dating advice, he also has advice for women on  how to do their makeup, wear their hair, dress, act in public, and a host of other activities for transforming a woman into a lady. Bereola understands assistance is needed in these areas so throughout the book there are letters from celebrity fashion stylists like Toya Adedipe for fashion tips, his wife Letisha Bereola on makeup, and a surprisingly damn good interview with Meagan Good on relationships and how God played a part in allowing her to find happiness. In short, Bereola manages to dodge some bumps in the road given the nature of the book. Unfortunately, he ends up hitting quite a few potholes.

The Bad

For all the good advice and labor of love provided in this book, I found myself scoffing repeatedly. One of the things that agitated me the most, and I’m not sure if it should, is the sheer amount of rules a woman has to follow in order to be considered a “lady.” I could see how a woman who’s interested in becoming a lady could read this book, and be exasperated by the amount of rules listed. It’s a bit overwhelming.

Additionally, some of the things Bereola suggests are so common sense I assumed the only way a woman DIDN’T know any of this stuff is if she was raised with wolves. For example, there are lessons on restroom and flatulence etiquette. I didn’t find these portions of the book necessary. Does a woman who wants to be a lady really need to be reminded to wash her hands when she leaves the bathroom? Or to excuse herself from the dinner table if she has to pass gas? One particular comment that raised my ire was “A lady is a flower. Flowers don’t stink.” Sometimes I’m not sure whether Bereola wants women to be ladies, or robots.

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My last issue with the book is its overall tone. Earlier I wrote that Bereola is writing this from a place of what I presumed to be love and affection. I still believe that, but it also feels like the kind of thing a man might tell his daughter. Not the kind of thing a man would tell a woman. I’m not a woman who’s trying to be a lady, so this book isn’t targeted towards me, so a woman reading it might not feel that way. As a reviewer, an outside observer, and a man who’s basically “peeking in from the sidelines,” there’s an overarching tone of “I know what’s best for you in this instance and if you want what’s best for you too, you’ll follow what I’ve written in this book.” I won’t deny there are women who need this type of instruction because they’ve lacked it in their personal lives, but I’m not sure how useful it would be for anybody else.

The Ugly

Over a year ago (right on this very site), I wrote a post geared toward women titled “Relationship Advice For Women: Please Consider the Source.” Having noticed the market for men telling women how to be women was getting out of control, I offered this perspective for consideration:

We talk about everybody else exploiting black people for their own financial gain…and talk ill of drug dealers and con artists. We say nada when ya’ll giving up all this money to regular Twitter fools calling themselves relationship experts. They’re breaking down black women, calling it “uplifting” and charging ya’ll for their services.

I’ve often wondered what kind of culture we live in where women readily run to men to find out answers I believed women would be better equipped to answer. Bereola wrote a 300 page book on how women can become “ladies” in society. The book is $20.44 on Amazon (at the time of this post). When I think about the amount of money he is about to make off this book, the speaking engagements he’ll schedule, and other fringe benefits that come from being a best-selling author on Amazon, Bereola and I are both chuckling (me on the couch, him on the way to the bank).

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Though I believe Bereola has better intentions than most, there’s still a sort of exploitative nature at work. His book cannot exist without being aimed at a certain segment of the female population who either lack the appropriate social cues and contexts to pick this up on their own, or lacked the parental guidance necessary to not need a stranger to reinforce to women the importance of loving themselves. Yes, he’s providing a service, but to quote a friend of mine (a woman if it helps to legitimize things), it “doesn’t mean it’s a good one and it doesn’t mean he’s not exploitative in a way.”

I wish I knew the answer to why women allow men like Bereola to prosper in these endeavors, but I don’t. I have it on good authority plenty of women are fed up with this whole business, but so long as enough of them put money into the pockets of these men, books like this (albeit, not as bad as some of the other stuff I’ve read) will continue to be released. And the men that write them will continue to prosper.

In conclusion, while I think there’s some good to be found in Gentlewoman, I found an equal portion of the content questionable. Yes, there’s good advice, words of empowerment, and enough bigging up of women to make any feminist scream with glee. On the flip side, all the rules and regulations of policing a woman’s behavior to make her into a lady, overly common sense advice, and the overall tone turned me off. I won’t say this book can’t be useful to a woman, I’m just not sure how useful it would be.

Peace.

RealGoesRight

RealGoesRight is a freelance writer, law graduate and lover of all things Jay-Z and Radiohead. He’s just here to write things which he believes will make a difference in the lives of the people who will read it.

Comment(15)

  1. I only take advice from those who are where I would eventually like to be.

    Which leads me to ask, what is this man's relationship history? Has he proven that he can maintain a happy,stable, long-lasting marriage? If not, I don't have any use for his advice.

  2. Overall I am sick of men and women trying to tell women how to be woman, how to date and how to love. Both sexes seem to be stuck on defining what a gentleman is (ladies we talk about the death of chivalry damn near every week) and men trying to define how to be a lady/woman (I was on twitter, I’ve never seen so many men who are'nt GYN professionals tell women what their vagina should smell like and how to get it that way).

    Popular relationship advice has always been geared towards woman and what they need to do, doesn’t matter if the writer is male or female. While anyone can give their opinion on a relationship topic, everyone shouldn’t deem themselves experts (especially since the majority of these people have no type of licenses in marriage/relationship counseling.

  3. “Bereola and I are both chuckling (me on the couch, him on the way to the bank).”

    Real talk. This is America. There's not a product on the market that isn't supposed to tap into our insecurity or our ignorance. SBM writers: Go get that money!!!

    I told a female friend (who reads similar books) to read whatever she wants but regurgitate that ish with caution.

    Let me find out (RIP Doe B.) you’re actually following what these books say. That just awakes the predator, because now I know…

    1.You’re kinda insecure.
    2.You CAN but don’t think for yourself.
    3.Haven’t lived long enough or not smart enough to formulate your own dating plan.
    4.You have a rigid template that I can get around with ease.
    5.You’re viewing me as a man (project)and not as an individual

    $20.44 can buy a decent amount of Haagen-Dazs while you fix yourself, by yourself.

  4. I think being a lady is a great thing, but I also think people need to remember that ladies are humans. We are not perfect. Just like men want us to know they aren't perfect, this is the same thing here. We both owe each other a mutual respect and I can dig that. But spending 24/7 trying to be something that doesn't allow me to be me, yet you can still be you, is draining. Stop expecting perfection in a sense of no flaws.
    My recent post Giving her the D don’t mean shiggedy

  5. Can't knock the hustle…I can knock the naivety of the women who think all these rules and regulations will get them chose. Relationships are luck, opportunity and effort…that's it. Your future husband can be in a relationship right now u just have to wait for the cards to go in ur favor. You could be the greatest girlfriend in the world and get cheated on because he just really wanted that other chick at the time. Fate gon fate, all the tweaking and manipulating u think ur doing is a teardrop in an ocean
    My recent post Today’s Word is… STRANGER

  6. "the answer to why women allow men like Bereola to prosper in these endeavors." is real simple.
    The same way men feel like they would die without sex, and sex is a "need" for them"; love, affection and being with one person is a "need" for most all women. There aren't too many women who don't aspire to be wives and mothers, and be "kept" by one man. This idea and these principles are perpetuated and driven by our entire society. In fact, it's the basis of every single society on earth; being married and having children. The idea of man, woman, and children; family. The nuclear family is the genesis of all societies and cultures. In fact, in many other cultures, if your a single woman you have no real societal identity until your someone's wife and/or mother. The idea of man, woman, getting together to procreate and populate the earth, and create a family is also perpetuated by the bible and religion. All religions. Christianity and Islam are the 2 most predominate and popular religions of every culture.

    1. "The nuclear family is the genesis of all societies and cultures. "

      nope. the clan was the genesis of all societies and cultures.

      The nuclear family is a very recent type of human social structure and was spread by the Europeans via wars, globalization, and colonization. just like most popular religions.

      the concept of one man, one woman, and their kids living isolated is actually pretty ridiculous to me, considering the alternatives. Extended families living together provides a better environment for rearing children, taking care of the elderly, and sharing resources.

      dont drink the american/european koolaid just because its en vogue.

  7. Most everyone wants to find someone to love them, and someone to love. Love is the root of our very existence. Men are the hunters and the pursuers. All they have to do is choose someone. Granted women have to choose the man as well, and agree to be chosen by that particular man. However, women are typically the ones waiting to be chosen by a man to be his future wife, and the mother of his children. Even if a woman actively pursues men, if none of them ever propose to her she will never be a wife. A lot of men will meet, get to know, date, sleep with, and be friends with many many women before he settles on one. So many women are so thirsty for this advice because they all desire to be the chosen one. Love is truly "A Battlefield" in many ways.

  8. I think the underlying tone of women's quest for male advice is the fact that most can't handle rejection well and/or a lack of patience with themselves when it comes to relationships. Take me as an example, I'll be 27 this year, have 2 children, and never been married. Many women would look at me and freak the hell that they haven't found a husband yet. Not me. It'll come when it comes, and I'd rather wait for the right person than try to follow a bunch of bullshit rules to attract somebody that isn't for me because I'm not being myself. Most of life is a process of evolution and we learn ourselves and the world around us by taking chances, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Ladies have to remember, there will be plenty of dudes who will reject you and you can't take it personal. You may be too fat, too skinny, to religious, not religious enough, too smart, not smart enough, etc….shit Honey Boo-Boo's mom is married, and so was Superhead for that matter….

    1. 100%%%%

      Relationship advice sales just like all those "fat burn" "get in shape quick" pills/ diets. People want immediate results; people don’t want to put work in. These men and women relationship authors are providing women with what they think is a cheat sheet; yes sometimes relationship advice is helpful, and you can learn from the mistakes of others, but some of the women who buy these books are trying to skip the hard lessons, the lessons that will shape them into better people (hard/ growing lessons do not equal stupid/common sense lessons).

      I also agree, I think a lot of the relationship advice geared towards a group of women who can’t handle/accept rejection. They can’t accept that unlike their best friend, they will not be married at 25; they can’t accept that while they may have some wonderful qualities, that every man may not see them as a person of interest, they can’t accept responsibility for the choices they have made, so they look for a cheat sheet to help them, instead of studying what has already been placed in front of them and moving forward.

    1. Experience is the best teacher, but some people don't want to experience hurt and rejection which could in the long run help you. Everybody wants the first person to be THE ONE…let's get real, as a woman I know that I may have to kiss a bunch of frogs before I meet my prince, but I'm willing to wait.

      I agree with @Raeyola…I'm in no rush…I'm 44, two kids, never married. I will be with the one I'm supposed to be with and someone I can be myself with. Never believed in "relationship rules". Plus I like to learn about men and get my information directly from them. Doesn't hurt to ask questions and observe…

      Just my two cents…

  9. I think the best type of relationship books are books written from BOTH a male and female perspective. "He's Just Not That Into You" was a great example. I, like you, scoff at all the relationship advice books written by men because sometimes men have unrealistic expectations and understandings of what it takes to really be a woman. But it is of course important to understand what it is a man really wants. A woman's advice is valuable especially if she's in a successful and healthy relationship. In order to really cover all bases a book from both perspectives would be the most beneficial.
    My recent post I Want a Love Like Beyonce and Jay-Z

  10. I say be wary of all relationship advice that can only be acquired by paying money. Understand all of these people are making money off of what is printed in these books, so at the end of the day, they're gonna say what's gonna sell, no matter what it is.

  11. Maybe I should come out with a book for men? I don’t think y’all would read it though. I’m not famous. Maybe if I got Tyra or someone really famous and pretty to back me. Hmm…

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