It seems the more I tell people that I am a blogger for the Women’s Center, the more discussions I have about feminism. I know this seems like a somewhat obvious result, but I have noticed that this really only happens, or becomes a major discussion when I am conversing with guys.
About a month ago I was hanging out with a couple of male gymnasts. We started talking about women’s rights and equal pay for women. It was their belief that if a women wanted to be treated equally, then they should have to be treated so for everything, not just the times it was convenient for women. The guy I was speaking with believed that if women wanted equal pay, then they shouldn’t expect a guy to buy them a drink. The woman should buy her own drink.
I have heard this type of argument many times before from numerous guys. And I must admit, I believe that the argument does have a measure of validity to it. Maintaining feminist beliefs can be difficult when majority of the population believe that men should serve as the provider for the family. The question of how chivalry fits into feminism is a tricky one to answer, one that many a feminist have been stumped with. A chivalrous feminist seems like somewhat of an oxymoron, like an evolutionary believing creationist or a meat-loving vegetarian. But can’t a woman appreciate a gentleman holding the door open for her and still want to receive equal pay? Or does believing in equal rights mean the dinner bill should be split?
The answer is a difficult one and clearly opinions will vary. I myself am not fully confident of where I stand on this matter. I am a woman. I was raised as a typical little girl was. When given the option between blue and pink I chose pink until I got to an age when I realized it was acceptable for me to have a blue pencil without being a boy. However I did grow up, as most children do, believing that pink was a girl color and blue was for boys. The implementation of that idea began from my very birth when the nurses swaddled me in pink. I watched sleeping beauty being rescued from the curse put upon her, believing that it was natural for men to be the heroes. In my family, my step-father was the provider and my mother prepared dinner and chauffeured the kids. For me as a child, the distinctions and responsibilities for men and women were made clear: men were the providers and women were the nurturers.
However as I grew up and began to learn more about the exciting world of feminism my view obviously shifted. I have no intention of being a homemaker. Though I can knit and cook I myself need a more stimulating profession than that. I have no concern of finding someone to support me, I am confident that I will be able to handle that task myself. However, I know that when I have a job which allows me to support myself, I will want to get paid as much as my male counterparts. I feel like this right should seem obvious to anyone and yet it still is a problem in the US today.
But when I go out to dinner with my boyfriend, I still want him to pick me up. I still expect him to open the door for me. I still would like him to pick up the bill. Does this make me a hypocrite? Is it wrong of me to want to make as much as men and still be treated like a lady. To me, no, there is nothing wrong with it. I justify this belief by the fact that I think business is separate from your personal life. If my boss was a man, I wouldn’t expect him to hold the door open for me or to pour my coffee. I expect different things from different men because they mean different things to me, and I don’t think this makes me a hypocrite. There are deeper, more significant distinctions between people than simply male or female. But since it is such a divided topic, chivalrie’s place in a feminist society, I’m interested to hear your perspective.