Another method of *cough, cough* derailing or diverting. *laughs*
I wonder if I can make these statements without generalizing too much? Ahhh well, I’ll try it on for size anyway. We as women have been taught we can do/be/have whatever we want. We as women can be President, Scholars, Doctors, Clergy, Engineers, Construction workers, World Class Athletes, and/or Millionaires. We don’t have to be content to read the book anymore….we will write or re-write the book. Use your brains, be strong, follow your path. Not the path scripted by society. I was overtly taught that women are limited by men and their fear of a loss of power and money. We are not inferior or subservient, nor should we be so. And I agree with those statements. However, it would be far too simplistic to blame all societies ills on “Women’s Lib”. And I’m not trying to. That discussion is a post of another color.
Women are not taught how to let men be men, they’ve said. I’ve had this conversation repeatedly in the past year, and even more frequently in the past two months. Brotherfriend and I discussed this subject again a few nights ago. The conversation lasted well into the night. Each time I was told, you just don’t understand. I tend to agree on both counts.
Like most, my lessons about relationships and men were primarily learned from watching family interactions. The unfortunate truth is, at least for me, is that I was never taught about men in any remotely constructive way. There were the usual discussions indicating that men do not hit or bully women. And that’s about it. Shit, no one gave me an instruction manual. Did you get one? Can I borrow yours?
My father, although proud of his daughter’s accomplishments, protested loudly when I told him I was again tackling any home repair instead of calling the repair MAN. He almost fainted when I called with questions about re-wiring some of the house. And groaned when I attempted washer repair. Huh? But in all of it, for whatever reason, neither he nor my mother every questioned why my husband wasn’t helping me. The covert message is we as women are supposed to deal in whatever way we need to, to ‘get ‘er done’. Not to EXPECT help. Because after all, we are capable, right? Fine and dandy. I am. I will. And there in lies a fundamental problem for me now.
No one really explained how to be a Gentlewoman. To be fair, I don’t really think men have been properly instructed on being a Gentleman either. But with that said….It is not even remotely close to demeaning or a loss of power for women to ask for help. Or expect help with physically challenging tasks. It is not demeaning or a loss of power for women to wait for a man to open a car door. Or pull out a chair. Or help put on a jacket. Or get the car and bring it around to the door warmed up and ready to go in the rain or snow. I’m not talking about basic manners like saying Please and Thank You. I’m not talking about women being expected to make the coffee for the office (although I do because I want my coffee in the morning and I don’t mind sharing).
So what’s so wrong with a little “Old Fashioned” anyway? Certainly I don’t expect a man to pay for everything. Or do everything for me. But stepping back a bit and allowing a Man to do perform Gentlemanly acts is pretty rewarding. Perhaps that is what being a Gentlewoman is all about? Perhaps too, Men ought to step back a bit and let women be a Gentlewoman as well. It’s not always about equality. I think it’s more about recognizing each other’s gifts. If Women are a gift to Men, aren’t Men a gift to Women as well?
Hmmmm…..Am I missing something here?
Artwork by Sharon Hudson.