Do you still think a man should pay on the first date? Pull out a woman’s chair so she can sit down? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself WHY? Do we still buy into the lie of “ladies first” when quite clearly in most other aspects of life it has been ladies last? Is the gesture of walking through a door first really worth more than REAL equality which might mean, god forbid, walking through the door second?
If the only answer you can come up with for the question of “why?” is ‘because that’s what men should do’ then you’ve sunk just as low as those who say a wife should cook for her husband because she is a woman. There is no biological or psychological reason for it, only outdated societal norms. In my opinion, there are NO things that people should and shouldn’t do based on their gender. There are only things that they can or can’t do, for example, give birth.
Let’s take the example of splitting the bill. Women (and some men) have been fighting for equal pay for decades, and we’re still not there yet. But how can we ask for equal pay and in the same breath ask for a man to pay for our food on a date? Even if he earns more money than the woman, why does that matter? If you go out for a meal with your girl friends, would you expect the one who earns the most to pay more? Of course not, that’s not how equality works. Do you really think that a man paying for your food is a good indication of whether he is a generous person or not? Generosity is not measured in conforming to gender roles dictated by society. If you want to know if someone is generous, pay attention to how they choose to divide their time, whether they give you their full, undivided attention, how willing they are to compromise.
If historically the work place was the ‘male domain’ and the home was the woman’s then at the same time as we women enter and influence the world of employment, so too should men be invited into home and family life and valued for what they bring. Valuing equality in the world of work higher than in raising a family, is in itself sexist. If what we want is as many female CEOs as males then surely we should also be welcoming the idea of having as many fathers taking just as an important role in raising their children as mothers. I’m not just talking culturally, but legally too, men should have equal rights and protection when it comes to their children. It shouldn’t be to do with the gender of the parent but to do with the best environment to raise a child. Maybe there is a bit of that sexist hangover kicking in right about now? You’re thinking it’s justified because women are better at raising children than men? Just because someone is more practiced at something doesn’t mean others can’t learn to do it just as well. Other than the biological factors of breastfeeding etc., there is no reason why men shouldn’t play just as important a role in raising their children as women. Just as men historically said women cannot study certain subjects (or study at all for that matter) or do certain jobs because they aren’t as intelligent, we have proved that wrong. If we address the issues of ‘toxic masculinity’ and give men an equal chance at raising children, I’m certain they will prove and are already proving to us that they can do just a good a job as women.
So should a man carry a woman’s bags, they are stronger after all!? Even with biological differences when it comes to our physiology, we have proven that we women are also strong, fast, powerful. If you think about it, some women are stronger than some men, it all depends on how you choose to live your life. I am just as capable of carrying my luggage as my boyfriend, I am just as capable of opening a heavy door as my brother. However, there may be some cases where I might struggle physically and require help but I’d be just as happy for a woman to help me out as a man. It’s not to do with gender. Therefore a man shouldn’t feel embarrassed to be helped by a woman either; we all need help sometimes.
As they say, equality is a two way street. I am proud to be a feminist, and women’s rights are extremely important to me. So are men’s rights. I don’t want to undermine the incredible struggle of women thought history and still to this day. Oppression must be fought but I think we have a better chance now by working together than by hating and blaming. We have the opportunity to create a world which is more equal for everyone but to do so we must recognise areas for improvement in ourselves as well as others.