Jan 12, 2013

Soapbox: Chivalry

Last night was a night of New York Times reading (isn't that what all the cool kids do on a Friday night?). In addition to "How to Choose a College" I read "I Don't Want My Preschooler to be a Gentleman." In short the author's son's preschool teacher has established the routine that the girls go to the bathroom first before naptime and the author is displeased because this is teaching her son that the different sexes play by different rules.

Let the soapbox begin.


Get Over It

I have yet to see "preschool teacher" on a list of highly paid professions. This teacher, who gets paid peanuts I'm sure, is doing the best she can and trying to teach the kiddos some manners. If it really bothers you, which it must to write an article on it, switch preschools. Or I trust that a good active parent (which the writer I'm sure is) can teach their child the difference between letting someone go ahead of them to the bathroom and long-term gender inequality. Good grief.


Holding and Opening Doors

Of course this article led to a million comments about other acts of chivalry and people's thoughts on them. I'd like to state, for the record, that I'll be damned if Cade grows up to be one of those guys who does not hold doors, for anyone but especially for girls. When I was at BU, which you know I loved, once I was single in the city, I quickly noticed how many fewer doors were held for me than I'd experienced back home. If there's a person right behind you hold the door or at least hand it off to them. It annoyed me when girls let a door close right in front of me and it nearly infuriated me when guys did it. No manners at all! I'll admit, when I was dating, if my date and I approached the door at the same time, I made a point not to reach for it. Yes it was a little bratty but I wasn't going to have a serious and/or successful relationship with a guy who was too dense to know he should open the door.

You'll be happy and probably not at all surprised to know if we approach a door at the same time, my hubby always opens and holds it for me. And I let him, happily, for two reasons. 1 - It's really a gesture I appreciate. 2 - Gender roles are so much less traditional today than they were 100 years ago (to state the obvious example, I have a career, and a good one at that) but I think most men still strive for and get satisfaction from being the provider and protector. It may sound archaic but I think it's true. And holding the door for his wife is a little thing that Ross can do to care for me and to play that traditional gender role. Why would I take that away from him?

It is such a simple and polite act, one that has great ROI. Yes, I'm talking about the ROI of holding a door. You take 5 seconds (if that) to hold a door and you give the person benefiting warm fuzzies, are told thank you and endear yourself toward them. Such great reward for such a small act. Hold the damn door.


Paying for Dates

First, I don't mean in high school and even the college years are up for some debate. But once a guy is (or should be) working full time, he needs to pay for the (majority of) dates. I'll give you my two reasons and I know there's people/situations out there that will poke holes in them but they are my reasons nonetheless.

1. It means he makes or has money. As in there's something in his bank account somewhere. If you are post-college and hypothetically interested in settling down, it's not wise to get involved with someone who has literally no cash flow. If you have to be his sugar mama when you are dating, imagine what the more comfortable, settled down years are going to be like.

2. It means he has some fiscal responsibility. He should only be taking you on dates he can afford. If he makes 6 figures and you get to go to martini bars every weekend, fine. If he doesn't and date night is a 6-pack of beer by the apartment building pool, fine. The point is he knows what his finances are like and woos you within those means. And as his date, you should respect those boundaries and not pressure him into spending money he can't afford. If you ask for or express interest in something out of his means, he needs to be man enough not to cave. Again if you are hypothetically interested in settling down, you want to be involved with someone who has some sense of fiscal responsibility.

When Ross and I met we were both broke and to be honest, he was more broke than I was at the very beginning. But he took me on dates that were great but not bank busters. Lunch and sno-cones in the park, mid-week drinks at 6th Street bars (where he more often than not knew the bartender and got a couple rounds on the house) or dinner at my place where he provided a mid-range bottle of wine. Ya know what - he sure fooled me. It wasn't until months later when he told me that I knew how broke he was. I just knew there was this good-looking guy asking me out on dates and then taking care of the bill. As we got more serious I started pitching in a bit (I'll get this round babe) but I never remember a time when the norm was me paying. And of course once we got engaged and moved in together it transformed from "my money" and "your money" to "our money" so who paid for what  became a wash. (This is not to say we've never fought about money. We have. We were SO broke the first 2 years we were together that I promise you we had more than one argument along the lines of "no, you go buy the toilet paper. I don't get paid for another 3 days.")


Bigger Fish to Fry

Short tangent - we talk often about women's rights and gender inequality with the woman getting the short end of the stick. While I don't mean to imply that men have it so hard, I do think there are some gender inequality issues where men get the short end of the stick. For example, when was the last time someone asked a dad-to-be if he was going to stay home or return to work after the baby was born? Modifying careers for the benefit of family is much less socially acceptable for men than for women. Maybe we should spend a little more time on issues like that and a little less time on who goes to the bathroom first at preschool.


Chivalry Does NOT Equal Oppression

I don't have too much of a soapbox here but to the original article's author's implication that by teaching her son to let a girl go to the bathroom first, the preschool teacher was instilling years of gender inequality...no. There are many many many people in this world that understand it is polite for a man to hold a door for a woman (or again for anyone to hold the door for anyone) but that it is unacceptable to pay her 77 cents on the dollar for the same work or to force "barefoot and pregnant" as her only adulthood option. Because my husband is awesome (clearly) I'd like to hold him up as the example.

Simple chivalry and serious gender equality are not mutually exclusive.

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