Ladies, there’s an etiquette book written especially for you--and it’s written by a man.
That slight footnote may initially be a turn off for some, but it’s something author Enitan Bereola II was prepared for when writing “Gentlewoman: Etiquette For A Lady, From A Gentleman.”
“I knew a huge part of it had to be showing myself as credible,” says a dapper Bereola, sporting a look seemingly off the pages of GQ magazine.
The 32-year-old California native spends a lengthy portion of the book’s introduction acknowledging his handicap as a man, unable to truly understand what it’s like to be a woman. But it doesn’t mean he lacks insight.
“Truth is truth whether accepted or denied,” he tells Centric during a sit-down interview at our Times Square offices. “If I were to offer you a million dollars, does it make a difference who it came from? Is the value of a million dollars not the same?”
It’s Bereola’s belief that by the time a woman gets down to the last pages of his comprehensive etiquette guide, she will forget (or simply not care) who it's written by.
It’s what women will takeaway from the book, he says, that matters most. From relationships and text do’s and don'ts to business protocol and standards like how to hold a wine glass, “Gentlewoman” covers nearly every etiquette base. But it’s the deep and heavy stuff Bereola tackles, like self-esteem, that has resonated the most with his readers.
“You’re born into this system that treats you and looks at you a certain way. Before you even get here you don’t have a chance,” Bereola says of women, who are faced with so much outside noise. “Women are combated with images they see on television, and magazines telling them how they should look and what’s beautiful about them is ugly and what’s ugly about them is beautiful.”
At its core, the book’s mission is to debunk all the patriarchal myths about femininity and womanhood. Instead Bereola, who also penned a gentleman’s etiquette book, is pushing the idea of a gentlewoman, a distinction from a lady.
“You’re a girl by birth, a woman by maturity and a lady by choice,” he asserts.
The gentlewoman, he says, is perfectly imperfect.
“She’s the woman holding down an executive board meeting one second and the next she’s courtside at the ballgame. She’s balanced like that,” he adds. “She knows how to properly consume her wine by the stem of the glass opposed to the bowl, but she might have too much to drink and forget.”
For Bereola it’s not about perfection (because that’s boring) as much as it’s about owning who you are, all while maintaining your class and sophistication.
Where most “how to” authors settle with simply sparking conversation--especially as it relates to dating--Bereola is curating it with distinct authority. Steve Harvey is probably the most notable male author to pen a book for women. But his “Think Like A Man, Act Like A Lady” brand isn’t Bereola’s approach. In fact he thinks quite the opposite.
“Thinking like a man is a waste of a woman. It’s important to know how men think but you don’t have to go around injecting yourself with masculinity and becoming a man,” Bereola says. “Being a woman is enough.”
“Gentlewoman” isn’t for the bourgeois and pretentious, it’s for every woman.
“It’s a reminder of who you are if you forgot along the way. It’s an introduction to yourself if you were just clueless. And it’s affirmation if you’re one of those women who say ‘I’ve been doing this the right way but I keep on losing,’” he says.
Ultimately, Bereola says, he just wants women to feel the book and all of its complexities, because ultimately that’s what women are: complex beings.
“I wrote it in love and I want them to receive it in love. I encourage women to draw back and pour some wine and position themselves in a place of solitude and really engulf themselves in the book,” he says. “I want it to be a real experience. I want them to fall in love with themselves consistently and just know who they are, why they were created, why they still exist and what their worth is.”
(Photos from left: Jus10 via LuxeLife Media, Jus10)