Heard a complaint the other day about how it’s unreasonable for women to rail against feminine gender roles and yet expect men to open doors and walk them home. Here are my thoughts:
2 reasons to do gentlemanly things other than “because you are the guy”
- Privilege. It’s safer to be a cis-gendered man in this world. Not only do the rest of us experience more fear for our safety all the time, we also face dumb shit like “well what were you thinking walking alone at night?!”. It is not unreasonable to ask you to extend your privilege and walk with us, I think.
- It’s the nice thing to do. If someone likes it when you do a certain thing, and you don’t mind doing it, then you can consider doing it.
We need allies, not gentlemen
My take on the subject matter of this article. Being a gentleman is insisting on doing certain things, sometimes even when told not to. If someone tells you not to open doors for them, continuing to do it meets neither of the 2 reasons above. Who does it then benefit? Mostly your ego, for doing the “right thing”, or for being a Real ManTM, not the other person whose wishes you are expressly ignoring. As an ally, you would instead tailor your actions to the needs of the actual person in the particular situation.
Gender roles and men
Many people only recognise sexism when it directly negatively affects them. Being a feminist is realising that the patriarchy limits everybody. If somebody likes it when you hold their bag for them that’s fine. If they expect you to do it without discussion, you can call them out on that.
Feminism is not about who opens the jar. It is not about who pays for the date. It is not about who moves the couch. It is not about who kills the bugs. It is not about who cooks the dinner. It’s not even about who stays home with the kids, as long as the decision was made together, after thinking carefully about your situation and coming to an agreement that makes sense for your particular marriage and family.
It is about making sure that nobody ever has to do anything by “default” because of their gender. The stronger person should move the couch. The person who enjoys cooking more, has more time for it, and/or is better at it should do the cooking. Sometimes the stronger person is male, sometimes not. Sometimes the person who is best suited for cooking is female, sometimes not. You should do what works.
But it is also about letting people know that it is okay to change. If you’re a woman who wants to become stronger, that’s great. If you’re a man who wants to learn how to cook, that’s also great. You might start out with a relationship where the guy opens all the jars and the girl cooks all the meals, but you might find that you want to try something else. So try it.
Once more, for those at the back
Feminism is about making sure that nobody ever has to do anything by “default” because of their gender.