2.24.2009

Girls don't like boys...

...girls like cars and moneyyyy... (Anyone? Teenybopper reference? Good Charlotte? No? Crickets? Oh well.)

BUT. I consider myself a rather feminist-y, independent person. Sure, my life's ambition is really to be a stay-at-home-mother (and that goes against what most feminists believe is an honorable achievement) but my opinion is this: I'll be doing what I really, truly, honestly want to do regardless of what others think. Isn't that really what feminism is all about?

(That was a huge digression.)

About the feminist-y/independence: that counts for just about everything except this whole living-in-a-big-city thing I've got going on. I'm in a fairly prominent city, and while I'm in a safe area, it is a large city and with that comes risks. I know someone who was mugged a few weeks ago -- walking on a safe street in the evening by himself, four guys approached him, showed him they had a knife, and took his cell phone and wallet. So you really do have to be careful here.

Because of that, I almost always travel places with guys. Not so much when I'm taking the subway, but if I'm walking somewhere especially at night, I'll make sure to either have a guy friend or several girl friends with me. You know, the whole safety in numbers philosophy.

But my girl friends and I were talking about it recently. We notice a HUGE difference in how we're treated if we have a guy with us. If it's just us girls, we get lots of whistles and cat calls. My friend got hit on at Mass, as a matter of fact. But it's not just positive (well, the word 'positive' is relative) attention we get. Another friend, when walking by herself, was honked at and told to "Get out of the way, bitch!" -- which probably wouldn't have happened if we had a guy friend with us.

I suppose that's the price we have to pay as girls. It's not like we're flaunting what we've got (on the contrary, it's freezing here so we're all bundled up), but still. I never had this kind MUCH attention in Texas. That makes me wonder--is it a different, less respectful attitude up north? Or is it because I'm outside and exposed to so many more people?

On a semi-related note, we had a debate in one of my classes recently about benevolent sexism. I was the *only* person in my class from south of the Mason-Dixon line, and I was the *only* person in my class who argued that when a man holds a door open for a woman, or gives up his seat on the subway, it's not because he's disrespecting her -- it's because he's respecting her.

Thoughts?

10 comments:

Tracy said...

OH, I totally think it's a respect thing! Couldn't agree more. And I'm sorry you've found northerners to be so rude...I can't help but wonder where you are.

And re: being a SAHM, I think it's very feminist, getting to choose what we want to do. Agreed.

Kaitlyn said...

I have a couple (few? we'll see thoughts).

First, when my mother first moved to MI from NC she thought everyone was SO RUDE. It's true. Northerners are jerks, that's just the plain truth.

Second, if a man DOESN'T give up his seat, or open a door, I'll reserve the right to stand there/look pointedly and sigh until he does. Because he should be a stand-up guy who respects women. And gives up his seat. How on EARTH is that perceived as disrespect?

Third, way to go with the wife/mom aspirations.I think the main point is being able to choose for yourself as well!

Minivan Mom said...

Aw, Nanny, I love you and I love reading about your culture shock.

Dreamcity is an acquired taste, especially for Texans. Yes, people are ruder, but it's that old fashioned Puritan backbone - we don't have the time or patience for niceties. We don't suffer fools very well, and I think that translates into a gruff, no nonsense exterior for so many. I think it's one of the reasons why the expression "bless his/her heart" goes right up my ass - it's so fucking patronizing, yet with a sweet facade. Up North, we'd say "hey, youze being wicked retahded"

Of course I exaggerate, but only a little. Right? :)

As for the chiavlrous behavior...you know, now that I have lived in both areas of the country, I totally see both sides. Back in my younger, entrenched-in-Yankeeism days, I rolled my eyes at that type of behavior. I would never go as far as to be rude in person (even as a Yankee, I had the manners to smile and say thank you) but then I would often do the whole "what, does he think I am a delicate flower?" grumble to myself. It seemed sexist and patronizing. Now that I live in an area of the country where almost everyone with a penis does it, I view it with a softer lens, and am not so affronted by it.

It really is about cultural differences. I definitely am a Northerner at heart, even as I appreciate the friendliness of Texans. I think both sides could learn from each other! :)

The Nanny said...

Well, I don't think all northerners are jerks :-) My roommates are pretty cool cats. The boys here, though? Will let doors slam in our faces and not even realize it. (Of course, those are just the boys I know here, not all boys here.)

Kaitlyn, it can be perceived as disrespect (at least how I understand it, which is what my class said) because it implies women are too weak to stand, or open the door, etc., or that we NEED men to do those tasks for us. Which is, of course, untrue. But that's how my class saw it.

MM--see, I think the expression "bless his/her heart" is sweet! :-) I don't see it as patronizing, I see it as sympathizing. But that just goes to show how differently we can perceive things coming from different locations, eh?

I truly don't believe there are many men out there who think women NEED doors opened for them or can't stand for a while on their own. I think most men who hold doors or give up seats for women do it out of respect. But for me, the best kind of man? Holds doors for both women AND men.

(As a side note: I hold doors for people regardless of whether they hold them for me. And I absolutely give up my seat to the elderly, or disabled, or women who are pregnant or with small children. And that's out of respect, too.)

Nic said...

I'm a northerner and still like it when people (male or female) hold the door for me. It really bugged me though when my former boss (Southerner) would *insist* on holding the door for me and never ever let me return the favor. THAT felt disrespectful to me because I felt like it was no longer about being nice but more about power.

Monica H said...

Well being from Texas, I have a similar opinions on this topic.

I say "bless his/her heart" too and not because I'm being patronizing. In fact, I just said that today in an email to someone up North, I hope they didn't take it that way :-)

And I like to have to door opened for me too because that's what we have learned it a respectful gesture- not just from men, but women too. It's not because we're needy and can' do things for ourselves, it's just polite.

I, too, desire to be a SAHM, because it's my choice. And I think we all have a choice to be or do wha our hearts desire.

And on the subject of being polite and respectful, I think people should say 'bless you' when they hear someone sneeze. Why not?

Minivan Mom said...

Perhaps there's some confusion about benevolent sexism, which is what Nanny was specifically referring to when she wrote the last paragraph? Benevolent sexism is not the same as common courtesy - it's not about everyone holding doors open for everyone, or about women getting up for other pregnant women on the bus. Or about saying bless you.

It's about MEN specifically doing these things for WOMEN because men view women as "separate" and deserving as different treatment than they would give themselves.

Northerners aren't lacking basic common courtesy (well, some are, but I take umbrage at that being the interpretation of benevolent sexism), it's about agreeing or disagreeing that women deserve "special" treatment. I tend to side with the Supreme Court that separate is not equal.

But that's just me. An asshole Northerner.

The Nanny said...

MM--thanks for the clarification. And I say OF COURSE women deserve special treatment because we *are* goddesses, are we not? ;-)

stellatus sidera said...

SOUTH FTW.
No debate.
Texas is the best.

People actually argued that a guy holding the door for a girl is disrespecting her? That's just dumb. Just dumb.

I'm in a Sociology of Sex Roles class this semester so you'd think I'd have more to say but my brain is kind of fried. =(

Oh ps. I'm not ashamed.
Good Charlotte. Yay.

Cait said...

Once again, leaving comments on posts from years ago. But! I have something that I think is interesting. As a Yankee my entire life, I have virtually no concept of what Southern hospitality is. When I moved to NYC though, I was ready to fight for my right to live, assuming that everyone would be so rude that it would make me want to curl up and die. And yes, there are a lot of bitchy New Yorkers. But not once have I gotten on the subway with my little guy and not have a seat offered to me by a MAN. Women will look the other way, but men have consistently asked me to take their seat. A welcome surprise.