As I walked out of the bathroom at work early one morning a colleague was arriving. As he had his bag, I held open the door for him. He thanked me and walked through. I said I was being a gentleman, to which he laughed and said thank you.
Then I panicked.
Did he think I was undermining his masculinity? Did he think I was having a jab at the fact that he didn’t open the door for me? Did he think I was being passive aggressive in commenting that I had been a gentleman by implying that he hadn’t been?
So I fumbled, I tripped over my words making some comment about how some men don’t let me be a gentleman. After some lame joke, I flumped into my chair and realised how ridiculous I was being – why can’t I be a gentleman too?
Often I will be walking with a man and I attempt to open the door for him as he is talking to someone or I am a step in front of him. He will then take the door from me and hold it open, insisting I go through the door before him. I have to admit, sometimes it grates on me a little bit but I let it slide, for older men they were taught to let a woman through the door first. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be being a gentleman.
The thing is, times have changed. And it’s time we realised women can be gentlemen too. Not just can be, should be. It bothers me, as a feminist, when I see women claiming to believe in equality, then expecting a man to pay for a meal at the end of the date, or open the door for them. I’m not talking about “it was nice that” or “it would be nice if” I mean hard core “a man should“. That, to me, isn’t feminism. If we’re going to expect true equality, and we’re going to win this war against women’s subjugation, it’s time we stopped putting expectations on a man’s behaviour due to their gender and start putting expectations on anyone’s behaviour.
We should all be polite and open the door for others. We should all offer to pay at the end of a meal. We should all offer a coat to someone when they are cold and we should all offer to help carry someone’s bags.
Gender should have nothing to do with it.
Do you feel like you can’t be a gentleman because you’re a woman? Do you have higher expectations of men’s behaviour than the behaviour of other women?