‘Ladies First’? How About ‘Manners First’?

Alyssa Royse believes that teaching children the tradition of “Ladies First” only serves to reinforce sexism on many different levels.

There’s an article on Today Moms, an offshoot of NBC’s Today show, that asks if teaching little boys the cardinal rule of “Ladies First,” is teaching future generations some sort of sexism. Why is this even a question? Of course it is. Totally. And that’s not nearly as problematic as what it isn’t teaching them.

Obviously, good manners are not only important, but an increasingly rare commodity. Personally, I want them back. I want doors held open for people, I want people to help each other carry their heavy loads, offer an hand up when someone trips and, please, pretty please, can we have some more “please” and “thank you”s in the world?

But I want that as part of a civilized social intercourse in the world, not a gender-based entitlement. I routinely hold the door open for my man. He does the same for me. Whoever gets there first holds the door open. Simple as that.

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So, why is “Ladies First” sexism? Simple. “Ladies First” implies that women are entitled to “better” treatment simply because of they’re women? No different than implying that men are entitled to “better” treatment because of their genitals.  Or white people because of their skin color.  And that is the wrong lesson to treat future generations if what we want is a world of equality.

I think this plays out in our society in some ways that are perhaps unforeseen. On its most basic level, it reinforces the gender stereotypes that women don’t do the “hard” things, the physical things. That men have to make concessions for women, either because of their weakness or society’s expectation that kid gloves must be worn with women. That doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t think we get to say, “I want to be treated equally, but way more nicely.”

Yes, it is good manners to hold a door open for someone who is going to follow you through it. It is bad manners to sit in a car and wait for someone to walk around and open it for you, when you could perfectly well do it yourself.

I am not willing to accept an equality that still has women dependent on men to create the world we want to live in for us.

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But for me, the problem is much larger than that, and it speaks to an absence of manners and civility across the board.

I posted the Today Moms article on my Facebook wall, and a friend of mine who recently had a baby told a tale of a long line for a Port-O-Potty at a festival. She was about to burst with her new baby, and no one let her go to the front of the line.

That is just plain rude. Not because she’s a woman, because she was hugely pregnant and everyone should recognize what that means for her physical comfort and ability to “hold it”. Every man, woman and child in that line should have let her go first. (If you’ve not had the pleasure of being pregnant, imagine having to pee, really  badly, and then having a 6 year-old sit on your bladder. Now wait.)

We need to be teaching kids manners, and consequences. When it’s time to line up, those who get there first are first in line. That’s the way the world works. If you got the first by pushing and shoving, you should go to the back of the line, and feel the social shunning of your peer group for behaving rudely. But at the same time, we need to teach children to assess the needs of others, outside of a rigid system. We can, in fact, police our own behavior by agreeing on a level of basic manners that we all adhere to, and all take responsibility for enforcing with our own manners.

Is there one kid who is clearly holding their crotch doing the uncomfortable “gotta pee ” dance that we all know? Let that kid go first. And it’s okay to point out that next time they probably ought to excuse themselves to go pee before it becomes a pee emergency. Is there a kid with a broken leg who needs to sit down? Get that kid a chair. A kid who has poor eyesight and really needs to be in the front? Get that kid to the front.   Were you lollygagging when it was time to line-up, and therefore were last in line, and now can’t see at the Assembly because you’re in the back? Lesson learned, less lollygagging next time. This is how the world works. (Is that not fair? I hate to repeat what every parent, ever, promised they would never say to their kids, until suddenly they too were saying it all the time, “life’s not fair.”)

We need to learn to pay attention to what is really defining our experiences in the world, and what we need to do to help each other get the most out of our lives, and our contributions to society. We need to learn to identify our actual struggles, not the ones we assume based on gender. We need to learn to see how we can help each other, not just what we have to do to get ahead.

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I live in Seattle, which is really a bubble of progressive thought. I forget that there are still schools that line up in boy lines and girl lines. I taught my daughter that if she is the first to the door, she should hold it open for those who come after. And that if someone thanks her, she should look them in they eye and say, “You are welcome.”

Because we have to acknowledge the impact that our behavior has on others, for better or worse. And we have to learn to look at the things that actually define our opportunities, strengths and struggles, realistically. We have to learn to help others, and accept help from others. Because we need to, because it’s the right thing to do. Not because ancient gender norms tell us to.

No, not “ladies first”—manners first.

 

Image courtesy of Flickr/Alwbutler

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About Alyssa Royse

Alyssa is freelance writer, speaker, fitness trainer and personal coach living in Seattle with her husband and their 3 daughters. They own a gym that she is not legally allowed to tell you the name of because it contains a trademarked word that she paid a lot of money to be affiliated with, but can't use without violating the trademark. She can also be found on her eponymous blog, where she pontificates about food, family, politics and the Seattle rain. Yes, she would love to speak at your event, host a workshop or write something for you. Just ask.

Comments

  1. wellokaythen says:

    “Ladies first” can also be classist. The whole point of the word “ladies” is not just to distinguish men from women but also to distinguish between ladies and other women. Traditionally, the word refers to only certain kinds of women, so not all girls were ladies anyway. It’s a word that’s been used to shame girls and women who didn’t behave the way that they were supposed to, or just shame them for being born into the wrong family.

    • very good point wello

      • wellokaythen says:

        Almost forgot to mention that one may not be able to immediately tell the gender of the person headed for the door. If it’s “ladies first,” am I supposed to verify the person’s sex before opening the door? That seems really petty. Why not just open it either way?

        When someone holds the door for you, whatever you do, don’t say what my grandma said, which is “thank you, that’s mighty white of you.”

        • Alyssa Royse says:

          Yes, a gender / sex verification system of some sort before exhibiting acts of kindness would be wrong on roughly a billion levels. Too many to list. But, what on earth did your grandmother mean by that? And how old is / was she?

          • wellokaythen says:

            She passed away many years ago. She was born in the 1910’s, in the segregated South, and grew up with the outlook of a white segregationist. She used the n-word all the time as if it was a neutral word like “bicycle.” It used to be a common expression between white Southerners in earlier generations. You showed appreciation for generosity by saying “that’s mighty white of you.” [Cuz, in her messed up world view, white people are inherently nice and black people are inherently mean.] By the time my generation came along, people were using it sarcastically.

  2. I would also like to retire “don’t hit girls” and replace it with “don’t hit anybody.”

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      I think the point, for small boys, was don’t hit girls back. And don’t play hitting games with boys unless, 1, they want to play and, 2, the teacher isn’t looking.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Agreed. That would mean we should have a Violence Against People Act instead of a Violence Against Women Act….

      • We do have a violence against people act. It’ called ‘law’ and it kind of frowns upon violence, in case nobody noticed it…

        • You can make this argument one way or the other. You cannot, however, have it both ways. If a special law for men isn’t needed because current law covers everyone, then a special law for women isn’t needed because the current laws cover everyone.

          It becomes very hard not to assume that some fight to keep this (now expired) law entirely because it allows women to constantly dangle a sword over the heads of men. It allows women to have men sent to jail overnight on their say so alone (which makes for handy retribution in a fight, forcing men to accede to the demands of the women in their lives). It allows women to get restraining orders against the father’s of their mutual children based, which guarantees them custody. It protects female domestic abusers by guaranteeing that even if the man calls the police himself, he is still more likely to be arrested than she is.

          Where is the law that protects men from that?

  3. Thanks for this Alyssa. Just 3 days ago I was out for lunch with a couple of people and as the waiter seemed to be handing a menu in my direction I put out my hand only for her to change direction slightly and say “ladies first” as she handed it to my wife. It was utterly embarrassing and made me feel about 2 feet tall.

    • That was very rude of the waiter. Very rude. I’m a fan of opening doors if I get there first, and in the south I get some pushback mostly from older gentlemen, but hey, I just josh with them and tell them they can open the next one, tradesies etc.

  4. Bay Area Guy says:

    Excellent article. Good to see that there are some feminists who acknowledge that feminism and chivalry are irreconcilable concepts.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I would like to think I wouldn’t judge a man who gets into the lifeboat before a woman, but I’m not sure I can. He shouldn’t be judged any more harshly than a woman who gets in before a man, yet…I don’t know, maybe I’m clinging on to outmoded ideas too much.

      Anyway, the true test will be a situation with lifeboats or hostages.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Not sure if manners are declining or that the current state is so bad we don’t want to believe it was always this way.
    That said, if it really happened, if women were really treated equally, not one jot nor tittle differently, instead of hoping something about doors would change, they might be unhappy.
    I am interested in the fact that this is always expressed in terms of doors. In public, half of them are automatic, anyway. And none of them are difficult. So a woman has no more problem than a man, and it doesn’t make any difference, anyway. So why restrict it to doors?
    Doing some business a couple of weeks ago. After we were seated, the person with the paperwork came in. I stood, because it was a woman. When she left, I stood. That’s because her status as a woman requires it of a man.

    For a number of years, three other friends and I used to have lunch at the same restaurant. We got to know a particular waitress–married to the son of the proprietor–and always sat in her section. One day she wasn’t there and we discovered her hubby had been playing around and they were divorced. Her job gone. Found out later she got a job with the county and was doing okay. Then, a couple of years later, she came in and saw us. She came over to the table and we stood. Two big men, one medium, dressed in midwest small town biz wear. So as we chatted, we stood. Her nine-year old son was watching and I hoped he saw the respect with which his mother was viewed.

    However, let’s take it back to the nitty gritty. Somebody is attacking a woman. A guy sees it and intervenes. He’s a good guy. A guy sees it and walks on…. He’s a good guy, too. Right? I mean, he’s just not patriarchal nineteenth centurist. No problem. Right?

    Doors. Waste of time discussing.

    • When she left, I stood. That’s because her status as a woman requires it of a man.

      Her status as a woman? Maybe in the 19th century that was true, but its 2013 now. Equality between the sexes remember? Theres no more special woman’s rewards any more Im afraid. Equality is what women asked for, its what our society has embraced, so as men lets do exactly as requested.

      However, let’s take it back to the nitty gritty. Somebody is attacking a woman. A guy sees it and intervenes. He’s a good guy. A guy sees it and walks on…. He’s a good guy, too. Right? I mean, he’s just not patriarchal nineteenth centurist. No problem. Right?

      Should that passerby “guy” respond differently if he sees a another “guy” getting attacked as opposed to a woman? Or is he only required to get involved at risk to his own safety if its a random woman being attacked?

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        Apollo. You do it your way. I’ll do it mine as long as the knees hold out.
        Equality? Never had a woman offer to help me change a tire, even if it were hers. Closest was a lady who wanted to hold an umbrella over me–in a thunderstorm. I told her I was already wet and she should go inside. Didn’t get struck by lightning. So equality means I pass on by when a woman is having tire trouble. Right? You sure? Didn’t think so.
        No more special rewards for women any more. Luck with that.
        Point about passing by an assault is if I don’t help a guy, I’m a coward. If I don’t help a woman, I’m an evolved twenty-first century non-patriarchal guy and I should get a medal for it.
        Although, as you imply, it would be theoretically possible for a woman to be so obnoxiously misandrist and insisting on equality in such unmeasured terms that I might find myself taking her at her word. That would be a hoot.

        • Alyssa ROyse says:

          Well, I’m of the “everyone help everyone” model, not the “nobody help anyone” model. I absolutely adore good manners, generosity, helpfulness – and it should be to and from all of us. And personally, I would help anyone I saw being attacked in any way. All 5’3″, 120 pounds of me.

        • wellokaythen says:

          It seems outmoded to stand when a woman enters or leaves a table, but I think a man has the right to do so if he wants to. Extra courtesy that’s not expected is not necessarily a bad thing.

          Just don’t bump the table and spill other people’s coffee…. : – )

        • Anne Thériault says:

          Whaaaat? Your version of equality is to never help anyone ever? Uh, I guess that would mean that you’re being as much of a jerk to women as you are to men, so that is, technically, equality…

        • Richard

          Feminists, and not just the overly obnoxious ones, do continually claim that men and women are equal. They claim that anything a man can do can also be done equally well by women. In some of the more stringently Feminist countries (e.g. scandanavia) they even reject the idea that the sexes are different AT ALL apart from the brute differences in their reproductive plumbing, and this belief persists to a lesser extent in countries such as the US. You’ll see people with this opinion, that gender is a social construct, posting on this very site.

          This is Feminism, and given Feminisms influence within Western society, specially in the areas of politics and the legal system, this IS the reality that we find ourselves dealing with. Looked at it this way, Feminism does in fact support this unmeasured equality i am talking about.

          Now, I personally dont believe in the gender as a social construct theory. I personally believe that there are significant biological differences between the sexes beyond just reproductive plumbing, and that these do result in different desires, preferences, skills, etc. Acting on those beliefs however, and behaving in a “traditionally” masculine manner can be in a number of ways maladaptive in this society. Chivalrous conduct, such as standing up for a random woman when she enters or leaves, fixing her flat tyres and intervening when she gets assaulted (in cases where you would not do the same for a man) is a good example. Once upon a time, men received respect and deference from women, which made this sort of “protector” behaviour, (which is a natural instinct in men and still encouraged to this day), societally appropriate. There is no such respect and deference for men any more however, and most modern women will recoil at the very suggestion that they should feel this way about men. This is why i believe that the special treatment of chivalrous treatment should end, and why i support equality. Ill save my chivalrous treatment for those women who i know that have shown themselves to be deserving of it.

          As to whether any but the most obnoxious feminists want this unrestricted equality i am talking about, id have to say no, they probably dont. After all, who wants to give up preferential treatment? But this is a case of be careful what you wish for. You want equality? Alright, you asked for it.

          • Anne Thériault says:

            I’ll totally give up having the door held for me or having a man stand up just because I’ve entered a room (which has never happened, by the way) if that means the end of the wage gap, or better access to birth control and abortions, or a crack-down on street harassment. It doesn’t feel like preferential treatment to me; it feels like a few little perks that I’m being offered in exchange for a lot of big things being taken away.

            • Alysa Royse says:

              Yup. Totally.

            • “I’ll totally give up having the door held for me or having a man stand up just because I’ve entered a room (which has never happened, by the way) if that means the end of the wage gap, or better access to birth control and abortions, or a crack-down on street harassment.”
              Well if you want true equality between genders then the perks you have like lower risk of violence, no risk of conscription, etc would disappear and women would either have to die 4-6x more often from violence, or men 4-6x less/or an equalization there somehow. Same with death n injury on work-sites, and you’d have to goto war against your will alongside the men. You’d also have zero abortion rights as men do or you’d have to give men financial abortion rights. Sound ok to you?

            • Anne Thériault says:

              It kind of blows my mind that people think that feminists are hypocrites who want men to do all the hard work but want, like, free money and doors held open for them or something.

              As far as conscription goes, I’m a pacifist, so if I was the boss of everything, it wouldn’t exist. Sadly, though, I’m not the boss, so it’ll probably continue to be a thing. I am totally fine with women being subject to conscription in the same way that men are. I am fine with women fighting in wars. Equality, etc.

              Why do women face a lower risk of certain types of violence? I would wager that it’s because we live in a culture that teaches young boys that violence is awesome and masculine and sexy. I don’t think that “equality” would mean women facing a higher risk of violence, to be honest, although I would really like to break down the societal ideas that teach young boys that violence is the answer, because I think we can all agree that it’s not.

              Death and injury on work sites happen not because the jobs are done primarily by men (although I think that they could be done by women, and women who want to do that type of work should be encouraged to do so), but because some working conditions are unsafe and often downright illegal. The solution is to improve working conditions for EVERYONE if we’re trying to eliminate worksite death and injury (which we should be).

              It’s ridiculous to say that women should have zero abortion rights, because we’re talking about gender here, not about sex or biology. That’s like me saying men should have zero vasectomy rights because women don’t have that kind of equipment. That’s a really shitty and stupid argument to make.

              As far as “financial abortion rights”, do you mean that if a man doesn’t want a kid, he shouldn’t have to pay child support? See, that’s where things get tricky, and I’m not 100% sure what the answer is. I’m toying with the idea of couples being up-front about being child-free, and signing some kind of legal agreement waiving the man of any financial responsibility and visiting/contact rights should the woman become pregnant and decide to continue the pregnancy. But that kind of stuff is tough, because people change their minds, and really, at the end of the day, the person who loses out isn’t the woman or the man, but the child. So, honestly, the jury’s still out on that one.

              But YEAH, basically all of the stuff you said sounds all right to me. Anything else you’d like to say to try to prove that I don’t really want equality?

            • “But that kind of stuff is tough, because people change their minds, and really, at the end of the day, the person who loses out isn’t the woman or the man, but the child.”

              RIght. And if a society and government isn’t going to be willing to provide basic health care, services etc for the good of the child growing up, someone has to. I’d say the best bet is discussion beforehand, condoms condoms condoms, free access to oral contraceptions, and more contraception access/variability for men to have that control over their own bodies/sperm.

              As per everything else, I don’t know any feminists who’d disagree with ending conscription (or women fighting) or finding ways to minimize violence culture for men and for women.

              And this? “Death and injury on work sites happen not because the jobs are done primarily by men (although I think that they could be done by women, and women who want to do that type of work should be encouraged to do so), but because some working conditions are unsafe and often downright illegal. The solution is to improve working conditions for EVERYONE if we’re trying to eliminate worksite death and injury (which we should be).”

              Right the hell on. And labor rights. And workplace support. And people being more than cogs to serve some corporate overlords that take shortcuts that result in deaths and injuries. Also? Nursing was primarily a woman’s profession. Very physically taxing, dangerous (exposure to disease) and stressful. Esp if working in mental health care. It’s not like women’s jobs are always fluffy bon bon eating easy jobs. There are loads of women currently working alongside men in factories and warehoused in the US and those jobs are dangerous, taxing, underpaying and subject to really shitty working conditions.

              It does no one any good to play the “Oh, but you have it so easy/hard” card. For most of human history men and women had to work, and hard, to survive. Women and men farmed, hunted, fought, dealt with insane conditions under feudal lords, hardscrabbled to homestead, and then after industrialization, worked in factories under hideous conditions (women and children too).

              It’s only been the last 75 years or so that western countries have had a pampered middle class with women at home and men in offices and more choices than factories, mining, warehouse support, or farming. Those jobs still exist and to a high extent in the US and in our economy, workers are expected to just take the dangerous conditions and be happy about it. See this article about a woman working in a WalMart Warehouse.

              It always makes me laugh to think that feminists, as was noted above, might want equal rights but not, as if there are cabals of ladies cackling about how they will forge a society of man-slaves while all they do is slut around, abort and eat bonbons. Perhaps I’m just not high enough up on the feminist food chain, though. I’ll stick with my understanding that equal rights mean just that…equal safety under the law, equal pay for the same work, educational access, access to sexual health for all, autonomy over reproductive choices and less violence for everyone.

              I’m married to a man, I have two sons, I get that there are double standards, cultural myths, differences in how genders are raised and how they experience life. I also get that we live in a system (at least in America) where the problem is less about gender (in my opinion) and more about how we live, period, focused solely on money and supporting corporate industry to the detriment of our men, women, and children.

            • I’ve always wondered why a community raised child wasn’t more popular vs the 2 or 1 parent system we have now. 2 or 3 parents at a time to look after 10 families kids, everyone swaps n rotates shifts giving time for people to do other work but also increases the kids socialization. I think it’d be especially good for single parents to have that load shared, also with 2-3 caregivers at a time the chance of abuse is probably lower.

            • I’m all for that, absolutely. Doesn’t really work with our “everyone has to have a job” kind of lifestyle and economic system. I suspect it was much more like that pre industrial era.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Pretty close to how my friends and I do it. I know a lot of people who do that. Then again, I live in Seattle…. I totally agree with you. More sharing / community.

            • @Julie
              “Doesn’t really work with our “everyone has to have a job” kind of lifestyle and economic system.”
              I mean like Bob, Jane, n Jim look after kids one day, next day they work, Julie, John, and Susie look after kids another day when they worked the first day. Everyone just rotating shifts, that way everyone can work and get child care. You’d need good employers though to allow it.

            • Yes, Archy I know that. We don’t have that kind of employment system in the US. We barely have workers rights.

            • @Alyssa
              “Pretty close to how my friends and I do it. I know a lot of people who do that. Then again, I live in Seattle…. I totally agree with you. More sharing / community.”
              Sounds great, I suspect those kids grow up with stronger community bonds, more self esteem probably and better social skills. Not to mention I’m sure the parents feel more at ease. Childcare here is like 200-400 a week or more I’ve heard, crazy prices, and it’s probably not worth working unless you earn decent money.

            • Anne Thériault says:

              I think that would be great if it could be pulled off! I would’ve loved something like that when my son was young. It was hard having all of our family live so far away. I think things were easier in terms of childrearing when extended family lived all under one roof, or at least all on the same block.

            • @Anne, it’s my idea of Utopia, sharing the load and also getting more than just 1-2 role models.

            • Not trying to point out you don’t want equality, just saying that good also comes with bad. Did I say feminists were hypocrits somewhere?

            • Anne Thériault says:

              Not in so many words, but it felt like you were. And it has for sure been said by other people on this site (not about me in particular, just about people who want equality in general).

              Also it gets a bit exhausting constantly answering questions like, “Are you SURE you want equality? Do you REALLY know what that means?” Like, yeah, I do! I am a grown up who knows what she’s talking about!

            • The so called wage gap has been explained by Warren Farrell as resulting from the different choices men and women make with respect to employment. In essence, men sacrifice more, work longer and choose at more difficult and dangerous jobs to earn more money.   This one is a common feminist trope that really should have been discarded by now, yet keeps getting repeated ad nauseum.

              As for  birth control and abortions, cant you buy most forms of birth control at chemists and supermarkets pretty much everywhere? And arent there a number of places in most western countries where women can obtain abortions (at least in enough places that most women would be able to get themselves to one within the usual timeframe)? Or maybe youre referring less to the availability of birth control and abortions and more to who pays for them? As in you want someone else to do so? Well us guys dont have birth control paid for either. In both the areas of reproductive rights and in the amount of attention that gets paid to our gender specific medical needs you ladies are still doing better than men.

              But your point is taken about some privileges being provided in exchange for others being absent. Like a trade off. That certainly was the case under old school Patriarchy. Men had more rights under that system, but also a whole lot more responsibilities women were never saddled with (e.g conscription, staying on sinking ships til last, dangerous and dirty jobs to support a family, etc). Women got preferential treatment in certain areas (chivalry is an example) which provided some balance. Thats the way it used to work. If you want change, if you want equality between the sexes, its only fair that if you want the same rights given to men that you take on the same responsibilities and get the same level of treatment.  Or do you disagree?

            • Anne Thériault says:

              That’s one person’s opinion on the wage gap. There are plenty of other, reliable sources proving that it does exist, and that men and women doing identical jobs are paid different rates.

              I am not, in fact, referring to who pays for birth control or abortions. I’m referring to the fact that 87% of American counties lack an abortion provider, and that there are tons of other obstacles that prevent women from getting abortions: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/blog/2013/01/23/violent-naked-carnie-rampages-through-florida-home-pooping-and-masturbating/index.html

              I’m also referring to the fact that there are pharmacies that won’t sell the bc pill or the morning after pill because it goes against their religious beliefs.

              I’ve said above that I believe women should take on the same “responsibilities” as men (although some of the things on your list are ridiculous – like, not EVERYONE can stay on a sinking ship “til last”, if you do it that way, no one gets off, ever). You might believe that women had “preferential treatment” (if that’s how you choose to view it), but they also lacked rights and weren’t even considered to be people. They couldn’t vote, own property, or make, really, any decisions for themselves – they were left at the mercy of their fathers and husbands.

              It’s funny how every time I say that I want equality, there are like a thousand dudes ready to tell me that that’s not what I actually want.

            • “It’s funny how every time I say that I want equality, there are like a thousand dudes ready to tell me that that’s not what I actually want.”

              Dunno if you have ever noticed but there are many many many women who say they want equality, yet their version of equality means taking the positives men get, adding them to women’s lives, removing the negatives women get, ignoring the negatives men get and calling that equality. That’s not equality, that’s special treatment. Equality requires the positives of both genders equalized, and both gender’s negatives to be removed or at least at a similar rate, eg men dying 4-6x more from violence, either women need to die 4-6x more or men die 4-6x less. That’s probably why so many dudes are saying that.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              Although I fundamentally agree that equality has to be equality, there us a huge red herring flopping around in this particular argument. Men do die at a higher rate from violence than women do (if you remove domestic violence from the equation.) However, that’s a red herring for a couple reasons:

              1) It’s not an inequality that is enforced by legal / institutionalized standards.
              2) They are killing each other. When I worked in the prison system, mostly with men who were in for violent crimes, they made very clear that they were shooting each other or beating each other up for reasons that were theirs and theirs alone: gangs, pride, revenge, etc…..

              It is not akin to things like the wage gap – which is institutionalized and accepted. It is not akin to health care – no, men don’t get abortions, but women don’t get prostate cancer, so that’s kind of a silly argument. It is not akin even to domestic violence. It’s a red herring.

              Which shouldn’t detract from the larger issues of what equality means. It means no institutionalized and legally supported differential treatment. Personally, I think that if men can be drafted, so can women. If men can serve in the front lines, so can women. If men can hold open doors and pay for dinner, so can women.

              But how people CHOOSE to organize their personal relationships is up to them, that’s what freedom is. And men are welcome to stop committing acts of violence against each other any time they choose to. And yes, they do it way more than women do, but not because the government tells them they should.

            • The statistic is worldwide, you know, including many countries where it IS INSTITUTIONALIZED, such as conscription or oppressive regimes, or for example when armies go in and allow the women n children to escape but for fighting age men they assume all are combatants?

              “(if you remove domestic violence from the equation.)”
              No, if you tally up all violent deaths, men are 4-6x more likely to die. It’s a worldwide statistic from the world health organization’s 2004 DALYS report, haven’t found a more recent version but it was an excel spreadsheet that was very interesting to see as it listed many causes of deaths by type of death, gender and if I remember correctly even age groups.

              ” And yes, they do it way more than women do, but not because the government tells them they should.”
              The world is bigger than your own country. Governments may not tell them in all countries, but this lil thing called society and gender roles do tell them to be violent, rough n ready playtime as kids was expected of boys. Violence was often overlooked, especially when females were violent towards males, bullying is at extreme levels in schools for instance and there are fuck all protections in place for it. People grow up with violence.

              Equality is bigger than government, the U.S government doesn’t tell men to rape women yet I see a massive amount of people calling for equality via protection for that.

              Equality is and should be about both legal and social issues, the wage gap is actually illegal in law here in Australia yet people dodge it via salary negotiations, social views dictating how each gender is paid vs governments saying it’s ok to pay women less.

            • Alyssa Royse says:

              I should have been clear that I was thinking and speaking of the US.

            • Anne Thériault says:

              Yes, this, exactly. Thank you.

            • Anne Thériault says:

              And why, exactly, do you think men die 4-6x more often? Conscription aside (because I’ve already addressed that), why does that happen?

              As Alyssa said above, we want equality under the law. We want freedom from institutional and legal inequality. I’m not sure what your statistics regarding violent deaths have to do with legal equality.

            • All you want is legal equality? Not to be seen as equals to men in the form of culture, n social issues? What legal issues stand in the way of equality for women? In the U.S there is selective service, and the lack of reproductive rights for men, for women the most I can think of is lack of universal access to abortion? It’s already illegal to pay different wages to women is it not? Thus a legal solution is already in place, isn’t the way to address the wage gap now up to changing the culture? I guess you could rule out secrecy with salary negotiations so everyone knows what the other is earning, but what else can be done?

              I’m not sure there is much left to do with regard to legal equality, anti-discrimination laws, etc have already addressed equality from the legal standpoint. Abortion is one issue but neither gender really wins there, women have trouble with abortion in all states from what I understand and men have zero ability to choose to be a father post conception, apart from that the only legal difference is men forced to selective service so is it not men who need the focus for legal equality?

              What discrimination are still enforced by an institution? It is my understanding that it is illegal under anti-discrimination laws in the U.S? Aren’t the remaining issues cultural/social? (of which I do believe there are many)

              What are the rest of the institutional and legal issues?

              “I’m not sure what your statistics regarding violent deaths have to do with legal equality.”
              Because some of them would be deaths from conscription, there are also military institutions which purposely kill of the men. Men are not afforded the same protections women are by law in some countries, the U.S with selective service leaves this as a threat from what I understand although that awaits major wars.

            • Richard Aubrey says:

              “better access to birth control and abortions:”
              Outside of having to pay for them, what obstacles do you see?

            • Anne Thériault says:

              How about the fact that 87% of counties in the US lack abortion providers, and 35% of American women live in those counties?

              You can read more here, if you’re interested in educating yourself on the matter: http://www.thenation.com/blog/172345/roe-40-economic-divide-denies-low-income-women-their-right-abortion#

  6. I open the door for everyone, doesn’t bother me at all and it makes for a more friendly society.

    Ladies first and especially the boys don’t hit girls meme is problematic. Women n children being let off the boat first for saving lives, males not defending themselves at all from females whilst some females would hit the guys with no repercussions. Sexist behaviour that is often overlooked but means men are more disposable, their issues don’t matter as much. It’s sad really…

    Treat people without gender, it was commonly expected to help women lift heavy stuff but I let them lift it themselves, I don’t treat them as weak. If they need help I will help but not because they are women. I hate how society can raise women purposely to be weak, I swear many women underestimate their own strength! The way I like to help is not to do it for someone, but help them learn how to do it where I can so they learn something and gain confidence. I never want to hear the words a guy/girl can’t do x (although maybe pregnancy or bodily functions limited to one gender would be different here).

  7. John Schtoll says:

    Is the biggest , most visible example of this , VAWA, after all every single crime included in VAWA is already covered in other laws. YET, someone (a large group of very smart people) saw fit to say “Crimes against women are more important , so much more important that we have to have a special law just for them”

  8. This is a good point, Alyssa, and you correctly noted the multiple levels of the issue. Yes, equality necessarily means the end of chivalry, but that doesn’t have to mean the end of courtesy.

  9. Alyssa -

    How do you feel about the use of the word “lady?” I was recently chastised for saying “young lady” to woman. She indicated the word “lady” was an indicator of virtuousness…. As such, it should not be used…. I should have said “young woman.”

    Just curious how you feel about the word.

    • Alyssa Royse says:

      It doesn’t bother me at all. I am not one to read endlessly between the lines, or letters. I try to pay attention to the tone and intent of the user and take the word as it was intended when used, and you can usually tell by tone and demeanor. All sorts of people call me all sorts of things in our commercial interactions – baby, honey, sweetie – and it doesn’t generally bother me, unless there is an obviously lascivious undertone.

      For what it’s worth, I call my fiance all those same things. I also call my daughter a young lady, because she is. At some point, we reinforce the negative historical connotations of words by leaving words stuck in time while the rest of society evolves. So unless a word has a particularly and intentionally hurtful history, such as racial slurs and gender slurs, I don’t mind. There are, of course, some words I would never use. “Lady” is not one of them.

  10. Anne Thériault says:

    I think that “ladies first” is sexist not because it implies that women are better than men, but because it implies that they’re helpless, can’t do things for themselves, and need to be treated like fragile flowers. I don’t think it’s pro-woman at all; I think it’s sexist against women.

    Women shouldn’t be treated well because they’re special or beautiful or whatever – they should be treated well because they’re human.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Anne.
      The question is not about being treated well. The question is about special treatment in certain circumstances.

      • Anne Thériault says:

        I don’t view holding open a door as “special treatment”, I view it as common courtesy. I hold doors for both men and women all the time.

        • Richard Aubrey says:

          Anne.
          I hope I made my point that door-holding is a poor metaphor for what we’re talking about. Among other things, half the doors in public open automatically, some are revolving so there’s not much you can do, and the rest open easily. In addition, there is the issue of who got there first, who’s carrying something….
          IOW, doors aren’t an issue, or if they are, there is no, zero, zip applicability to anything else.

          Let me give you one of my favorite anecdotes on the subject.
          Some news footage a couple of years ago featured a little girl in a tree above a raging flood–the wide, flat flood you sometimes get in Texas, where the water is a mile wide and six feet deep and moving twenty miles an hour.
          In the tree is a Guardsman, no indication of how he got there.
          A chopper comes along, lowers a harness. The Guardsman gets the little girl into the harness and the chopper pulls away. The Guardsman gives a triumphant fist pump and…end of story.
          No idea of who he was, how, if, when he got out of trouble himself.
          Now, we presume he got out safely, so what’s the story? Okay, it that’s the point, we know the little girl got out safely, so why do we need a story at all?
          So we have a problem. People insisting on equal treatment ought to be outraged, but the response is usually, meh. IOW, they don’t believe in equal treatment. They believe in ladies first when it really counts and they pretend that, by being cool about doors, they’re really all equitable and stuff.
          Visualize transparency.

          • Anne Thériault says:

            Surely you can tell the difference between a CHILD and a grown woman? Do you think the story would have played out differently had it been a little boy?

            Also the difference between the victim and a trained professional, i.e. the guardsman? If it had been a man in the tree, likely the TRAINED PROFESSIONAL would have put him in the harness first.

            But, um, thanks for sharing your anecdata.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    For fans of counterfactuals, would there have been more ink were the genders reversed?

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/10/13217164-hero-boy-4-dies-after-saving-3-year-old-girl-in-pool?lite

  12. Rock Conner says:

    This article is well intended, but I insist that some men in the “ladies first” and “yes ma’am” club are of the mindset that the women in our lives are to be respected and thought of before ourselves.

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