For the post this week, rather than offer a particular personal experience tied to gender or race in America, I decided to talk about certain aspects of gender roles that have always bothered me. To be blunt, I don’t like the idea of men doing stuff for women. And while I will be the first to recognize that it is changing somewhat with our generation when you compare it to the extremes of the past, I still believe that there remain unresolved issues. For more on changing gender roles, click here!
First, I don’t like the concept that the man is supposed to pay the bill when on a date. Why can’t you split it or each pay for your own meal? (This is actually referred to as “go Dutch”.) Second, I don’t like the notion that men are supposed to drive women places. Let me guess…you’ve never thought about it, right? You see females driving cars all the time. But, how often do you see a man (of legal driving age) in a car that a woman is driving? I don’t understand why women have to be driven around. What’s the big deal? And finally, I disagree with the practice of men opening and holding doors (cars included) for women. While I will admit that it’s nice to have someone open the door for you and many women will view such an act as very “gentlemanly”, I believe that the underlying message is inherently wrong.
Ok, so these three ideas only begin to scratch the surface of the phenomenon of gender roles. As I said before, I am most disturbed by the fact that these scenarios represent man doing things for women. Now, I pose the questions: Do men engage in these activities because they view women as incapable or not able to support/provide for themselves? Or, is it that men want to control the situation?
As for the first one (i.e., paying the bill), I can see how in the past this practice man have served as most women did not have jobs or income. In this way, women had to be dependent on men’s money. However, today that reality is changing; there are women all over the workforce. Furthermore, these women have successful careers that allow them to be financially independent.
With respect to men’s driving women around, I would argue that it is more of a control issue. I think that men like to be in the driver’s seat (multiple meanings here…). They want to exert their masculine domination by administrating when and in what direction the car goes and at what speed. Also, I think that men are afraid of seeming “weak”, if you will, when a female is driving them. If women drove men around then it could almost be interpreted as a submissive behavior on the man’s part. He is allowing a woman to control him by transporting him to a destination.
Lastly, I just don’t see why it really matters for a man to open and hold the door for a woman. In fact, isn’t it just common courtesy to hold doors (for whomever) anyway? If there is a door that I need to pass through, I can very well open it as pass through it without assistance. Better yet, I can even hold it for the man behind me!