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Author Enitan Bereola II On the Story Behind His New 'Gentlewoman' Guide for Ladies

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Enitan Bereola
Photo Credit: Sheron Barber Photography

Author, speaker and columnist Enitan Bereola, II has created a popular brand centered around being a gentleman and treating women with respect throughout the dating process. His first book, Bereolaesque: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette Book For The Urban Sophisticate, debuted in the top 5 on iTunes self improvement book list in 2009 and became and Amazon Kindle bestseller. He credits his upbringing for his well-mannered lifestyle and the self-proclaimed “Etiquette Impresario” is on a mission to change the way men and women look at dating. “If you had told me this is what I’d be doing 10 years ago I would’ve laughed at you,” he says. “Chivalry, at its core, is just treating people right as a whole, including yourself.”

Bereola’s second release, Gentlewoman: Etiquette for a Lady, from a Gentleman, was released in December and although his devoted fan base can’t wait to get their hands on it, we know there are still many women posing the same question: What can a man teach me about being a woman? If you’re one of them, you should definitely read on. We checked in with Bereola to find out what he has in store in his latest release and why he feels it’s something men and women can grow from.

ESSENCE.com: You brand yourself as the contemporary gentleman. How did you learn how to be one?
ENITAN BEREOLA: It was the way I was raised; it’s what was expected in my house growing up. The way no one gives you a pat on the back for wearing shoes outside in other houses is the same way my parents looked at etiquette. My siblings and I could never understand why people would give our parents all these compliments. It wasn’t until I went to college and started going on dates with all these beautiful women, that I noticed I was different. They’d be shocked by the most basic gestures like having the door held open. They’d ask why I always walked on the side of the sidewalk by the road. I just couldn’t imagine they hadn’t experienced being treated that way. My guy friends were the same way, they were good guys but I could tell certain etiquette was just something they weren’t taught at home.

ESSENCE.com: How would you describe the relationship advice you give? On Twitter, your #Pleasantries tweets are heavily retweeted.
BEREOLA: In the beginning, I was just speaking my mind. It wasn’t necessary for a reaction and that’s how the audience was organically built. I would say things based on personal experience, letters I received, watching television and just subscribing to the culture. I never made myself out to be, and still don’t, some ‘I know it all’ expert. A lot of this stuff was just rooted in common sense to me. It’s ignored in so many precious moments of life, and love is one of them.

ESSENCE.com: Your first book Bereolaesque was on how to be a gentleman. In you’re new book Gentlewoman, you’ve shifted your focus to women and exploring the demise of femininity and class in contemporary society. Can you tell me more?
BEREOLA: In order to understand etiquette you have to be in love with yourself, understand yourself first – your worth and your significance. I take you on a journey through current times because I think the times we’re living in now [are] kind of backwards. That’s why the cover is the back of a woman’s head and the end is actually the beginning. It touches on almost every area on the way, whether that’s going to work, dating or racism. There are also a bunch of cool people involved like Hill Harper, Meagan Good, Congresswoman Barbra Lee and more. It’s not just my perspective. It speaks to current times and I know it’s going to heal so many women and make men treat women better.

ESSENCE.com: Men? Should they read this too?
BEREOLA: I think it’s cool for them to see and learn from this too. There’s even a section in the book for them, an interlude called ‘Man Cave,’ that gives them info they need to know. I did the same thing for women in the gentleman book.

ESSENCE.com: What do you say to women who are skeptical about receiving advice on how to be a lady from a man?
BEREOLA: Men will never experience the world from a viewpoint of a woman. I’m not trying to change you. There’s a sensitivity level there, and there should be. But I give this example: Do you dismiss everything a man hands you because it comes from a man? If a man handed you a million dollars does its value change because it comes from a man? The point of this book, when you’re done reading it, is that you understand your value. It will either serve as a reminder of who you are to keep you on track, or if you didn’t know your worth, it brings you back to a place and you’ll fully understand that. I don’t think anyone will come out less confident.

ESSENCE.com: This book took you three years to write. What was your research process like?
BEREOLA: I did a lot of reading. I also hear women’s stories daily. When I go around and I tour, I speak to tens of thousands of women. I’d have conversations with young women and those old enough to be my mother, as well as women who are single, married, or divorced. I get inquiries on all social media sites and email. I try to see their silent struggles and read in between the lines. When I consult them, I try to figure out what the underlying issue is, address it and give it justice. If I would have put this book out a year ago, it would’ve been completely different. Writing this book has really been an awakening process. I realized the way I was raised was rooted in patriarchy. I’ll never know it all. I’m just putting out what I can because that’s my calling.

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