“Gentlewoman” is a non-fiction—not quite self-help, but “self-love” book that takes readers on a journey of uncovering the raw beauty of womanhood with etiquette rules. The author, Enitan O. Bereola II, has set out to inform, educate, and empower women through his research and insight. He wrote this book for women in all stages of life, for young women who might be looking for a husband as well as women who might be struggling through their marriages. “Gentlewoman” is a book for every woman with a story.
In preparation for writing this book, Bereola received help from a wide range of celebrities. In a section titled “Inner Views” (interviews), well-known actors such as Meagan Good, authors such as Hill Harper, artist Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child), and Pastor Jamal Bryant, shared their perspective on women.
So you might be wondering, “How can a man tell me how to be a woman?” In the introduction, Bereola shares that one of the lessons he learned through one of his childhood experiences was to, “Drown out the noise. Shatter your bias. If the advice is applicable, the source is irrelevant.” Bereola writes,
“Don’t allow your ears to be impervious to my words because I’m a man…If a fellow handed you a million dollars, would you refuse it because it came from a bloke? A million dollars is still a million dollars, no matter who hands it to you. Its value won’t change because a man delivered it.”
But why Gentlewoman? If there are guidelines for what it means to be a gentleman; such as, holding the door open, pulling out a woman’s chair, paying for the first date – then perhaps there are characteristics involved for carrying oneself as a ‘lady.’ In the opening chapter, Bereola says, “Men in a group are commonly referred to as “gentlemen” regardless of their manners. But there’s no equal term for women. God made us equal. Man made us unequal.”
Ultimately, Bereola sees an undeniable beauty in both men and women that society has seemingly brushed under the rug. Through “Gentlewoman,” Bereola attempts to completely remove that rug. Society has depicted us – mainly black women – as women who do not care about our appearance. We are portrayed as women who can’t control our attitudes, are fed up with our baby-daddies or absent fathers, and as those who willingly display ourselves as animals on “reality” television with shows like “Basketball Wives” and “Love and Hip Hop.” Therefore, for some women, there is a burning desire to set the record straight. However, we might need some help in doing so. Bereola has a passion for us. He wants us to thrive and succeed in the world. He sees our struggles and pains, and desires to help with our healing process, on a holistic level.
Society has taken the meaning of true self-worth from woman. She cannot quite see her full potential because it is so foggy with society’s expectations. The first section, “Lost Crown,” implies that woman has forgotten who God made her to be. Through 21 short sections and 7 ‘interludes,’ Bereola dissects every aspect of life that women deal with and how to handle them: relationships, spirituality, health/beauty, finances, marriage, divorce, and etiquette subjects that we don’t spend much time discussing such as tipping, laughing, text, gift-giving, and even restroom and flatulence etiquette. Each chapter plays a part in removing the fog. After uncovering hurt, pain, a heavy heart, an unsure mind, a woman can now take her throne back after reading this book. Any woman who has forgotten her self-worth, or never knew her self-worth in the first place, might now have a chance to do so through Bereola’s writing.
It is clear that Bereola possesses both a sincere passion and compassion for women. “Gentlewoman“ brings to our attention many issues among women that he believes do have solutions, and the first step is to address the issues. Without forcing this advice on his readers, Bereola simply states, “This book is a suggestion. This book is about honesty. Utilize this literature as a reflective piece to reveal what you want to improve upon and what you want to celebrate.”
So, invest in this piece of literature, take the time to read, and feel like the queen you were created to be. Even if you already view yourself as a queen, be reminded of why you are just that.