Thursday, March 02, 2006

Chivalry's dead and I'm glad to see it go

Lately Peanut has been holding the door open for me saying, "Ladies first."

When it first happened, I thought he was just being a smart ass. After all, he's got a very sarcastic mama so it wouldn't have surprised me.

But no, he was sincerely thinking that men, even 6 year old boys, should hold the door open for girls, even for his older twice-his-height mama. Once I was already holding the door open for him and he came behind me, took position in front of the door and said,

"Go ahead mom, I've got it."

When I protested, he replied, "But it's ladies first."

Needless to say I told him to get the hell in the house because I had to pee.

At dinner that evening, I asked him where he'd been getting all this chivalrous stuff from lately and he answered, "Ms. S," his teacher.

Last Wednesday, we were leaving to go to the Pediatrician's office because he had been running another high fever. He appeared next to me as I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth, holding my bag and saying,

"Boy's can hold girl's stuff, right mom?"

My first thought was, "Oh jeebus, here we go again."

Looking at him, I said, "No, boy's can hold girl's stuff and girl's can hold boy's stuff. It's the polite thing to do when it's needed, regardless of gender."

I then reminded him of his occasional need for me or Niece to hold something while he goes to the bathroom or attempts for the 100th time to tie his shoe. Then I added the times where I needed him to hold something because the thought of putting it on the bathroom floor repulsed me. I saw the light bulb click on almost immediately thank heavens.

(I swear my kid is going to ask me one day why I can't just be a normal mom.)

Upon discussing this idea of chivalry further with Peanut, I found out Ms. S. has been teaching the kids, especially the boys, that they are to open all kinds of doors for girls, hold their bags for them, buy them pretty things, etc.

This bugs me because, in my very honest and humble opinion, if women want to be treated completely and totally equal, then why must a guy hold the door open for us just because we have a vagina? Doesn't this give a very arguable contradiction to our feministy cry for equality? Shouldn't expecting a man to hold open a door, pay for dinner, etc., just because he's male be considered sexist? I think so.

I believe it's an all or nothing approach. I want that full $1.00's pay and I want my eventual partner to take my career seriously and participate equally in family life. Holding my biological difference in front of any male when it suits me, at the absolute most, appears paradoxical.

So, I have since informed Peanut that whomever is at the door first should open it for those who follow whether they be women or men and that helping people out, again whether women or men, is what ultimately humanity (not to mention equality) is all about. I've had to recite this mantra several times over the course of several weeks and I think it's finally beginning to sink into his cute, overly active brain.

P.S. For those interested, here's a brief history on chivalry and how it originally had nothing to do with being nice to women (make sure you click on the Courtly Love link-it's a hoot).