Subscribe to Bitch—an award-winning, 80 page feminist magazine. Image Map

Hall That She Wants

Just itching to act out. The Girls of Hedsor Hall isn't that different from other behavioral competitions in reality TV land. It features good-looking people with impulse control issues trying to behave, but mostly acting crazy. And yes, they are competing for a cash prize. We've seen it before: 12 so-called bad girls enter, one reformed good girl leaves
(with $100,000). The difference lies in the setting. Headmistress Gill HarbordRather than being instructed by celebrity psychologists or plain-old celebrities, these girls are attending one of the most famous finishing schools in England. Headmistress Gill Harbord and Disciplinarian Rosemary Schrager lend an authenticity to Hedsor Hall that's rare in the genre. (For instance, their accents aren't in question, unlike the heavily voiced-over Trina Dolenz on Tool Academy.) You just can't fake English like this.

The girls are supposed to learn to be "ladies," a role that's very clearly defined in traditional English etiquette. It's weirdly fascinating to see a feminine ideal so unabashedly embraced as something for young women to aspire to. And at the same time, Hedsor Hall's definition of "lady-like" behavior is much more inclusive than one might expect.

 

 

Okay, we have the predictable posture exercises, painting lessons, and flower arranging classes. And then there's falconry, hunting, and pheasant stuffing! Hedsor Hall promotes a brand of femininity that isn't just about being dainty and delicate, even if it is limited to outdated pass-times of the English upper class. (I think we're all ready hoping for falconry to make a popular comeback, though. Am I right?)

The school crest stands for "everything that defines a true lady," explains Former misbehaving Miss USA/visiting instructor Tara Connor, "Dignity, Discipline, and Grace." The Hall rules are just as predictable: No swearing, no excess drinking, no men in the rooms, no fighting. Contestants have also learned some of the unspoken rules the hard way. No refusing to get out of bed, for example. No smirking. And absolutely no talking about sex work!

Not surprisingly, a handful of the girls strip or make porn for a living, and the Headmistresses are "disgusted" whenever it comes up. One contestant, Brianna, almost got expelled for discussing her adult website when someone at a donor luncheon asked about her career. I hesitate to place any of the Hedsor Hall contestants in a "Support Sex Workers!" discussion (I'm sure most real-life sex workers would rather not be associated with these people), but it does raise some hackles to see sex work being so roundly dissed. Harbord and Schrager seem to believe that being a sex worker has nothing to do with socio-economic situations and everything to do with bad manners. It's a bit closed-minded, to say the least.

But to be honest, I'm charmed by the idea of etiquette having the power to thwart sex work. Harbord and Schrager emphasize self-respect over and over again as the most important part of being a lady. Since Brianna has admitted that she believes her body is her most positive attribute, I really want to see Hedsor Hall prove her wrong. Maybe impeccable manners will become her best asset, or, better yet, falconry. Or maybe the girls will simply gain the skills to have more confidence in classrooms and job interviews. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's just another MTV reality show, but I'm totally sold. Blame it on the British.

[Also posted at Love in the Living Room]

 

Want more from Bitch? Good news! Our quarterly magazine, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, is packed with 80+ pages of feminist analysis, reviews, illustrations, and more. Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

8 comments have been made. Post a comment.

A Note on Falconry

Did you know:

They use the female of the species because they are more efficient killers. Just thought that was an interesting tidbit.

The architectural decision

The woman to make happy it is easy... The truth expensively..., very expensively but to employ the killer much more cheaply both most to become happy and free.

Falconry

needs to come back...and you shouldn't leave!!! :,( :,( :,(

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

ladette to lady

this school and this premise have already been used in a show called "ladette to lady". maybe this will be an americanized version.

"The girls are supposed to

"The girls are supposed to learn to be “ladies,” a role that’s very clearly defined in traditional English etiquette."
Are they planning to prove an old saying that the best ladies are prostitutes with class ? lolz
That's a shame that this vid. is no longer available, I'd like to know how did this foxy talked back to Hedsor Hall =)

A little bit about the British men

Do not try to constrain the temperament and to represent from itself the cold arrogant woman with faultless manners. All the same you hardly will manage to surpass English aristocrats. Be by itself. (But it is final in any case do not pass the standard frameworks of decencies). Most likely your companion will like your openness and a spontaneity. However, even if at you really royal manners, the Englishman is all the same capable to find out in you weight of lacks. Anything terrible!

Australian commenting on US Ladettes

Hello USA. I am from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. We have not yet seen the US version of Ladette to Lady.

The US ladettes are more attractive than the British and Australian ladettes. I do not want another Australian
season, because they just act like spoilt idiots waving the Australian flag, which is a modified version of the
British flag anyway.

Tara is hot. Donald Trump is a good man. Australians respect him. I find it almost hard to believe the US, is
also having problems their ladettes considering the US laws are more severe compared to the Australian and
British laws. When an Australian commits an offence the punishment is about half severe of the US. We do have a much smaller population. It is a dry continent anyway.

There are twelve US ladettes, four more than usual. Good. More mayhem. Season 2 was the best so far, it had attitude, energy and substance. Louise Porter is hot. However, there are seven of the US ladettes
worth servicing.

I love American women. They are more confident and aggressive than Australian women. They make me
melt.

Good day USA.

Andrew

Jeez, why are all these

Jeez, why are all these comments seemingly from ESL types? Was this show a big hit in Bulgaria?

"I am for to being she goodly a lady always"

Yeesh