How to be a lady, Oscar Wilde style

posterI owe a debt to Oscar Wilde in my transformation to being a lady.

The term lady is heavy with meaning.

As children my sisters and I were encouraged to be ladies.

When we got rambunctious or rude our mum would say we weren’t ladylike.

Fortunately this was a rare admonishment and we were more wild and willful than ladylike.

I have now learned I have Lady Windermere’s Syndrome.

The syndrome refers to characters in Wilde’s play, Mrs. Windermere’s Fan, a tale about societal mores, marriage and faithfulness, first performed in 1892.

One hundred years later a group of researchers dubbed a lung infection that affects mature women (and men, too) Lady Windermere’s Syndrome.

Researchers figured women during Oscar Wilde’s time refrained from robust coughing.

Coughing, in turns out, helps clear the mucus in your lungs where bacteria thrive.

But ladies don’t expel, expectorate or spit, and the label stuck.

Good for ladylike appearances. Bad for your health.

Lady Windermere’s Syndrome refers to a lung infection created by mycobacteria—the same bugs that cause tuberculosis.

Doctors treat Mycobacterium avium complex (Lady Windermere’s Syndrome) just like TB–with months and months of antibiotics.

Today you’ll find me riding the antibiotic train: stop by and say hello. I’ll be the one with the hearty cough.

Movie poster for the 1949 film Fan, based on Oscar Wilde’s play, from the Wikipedia website, and a link to a scene from the film featuring George Sanders as Lord Darlington and Jeanne Craine as Lady Windermere


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, cinema, native american, native press, Native Science, neuroscience, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to be a lady, Oscar Wilde style

  1. Sorry to hear you are ill with coughing, glad to hear you are coughing all you need to. 🙂
    Be well, Professor! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s