Do you have to give up being a woman to become a feminist?

United States
July 24, 2008 5:45pm CST
I miss gentlemen and ladies! I have never in my life had a man throw his coat over a puddle so that I could cross. I have been on dates with men who don't open my door, either car or restaurant. I have carried large heavy objects to my car while several able bodied men walked by and didn't offer to help. I enjoy having rights as a woman, don't get me wrong! I am a capable force in the working world, and I can earn enough money to support myself, and I CAN DO all the things listed above without a man's help. But I really believe in courtesy, etiquette, and the charming old-fashioned ways that men would treat ladies. It makes me feel good when someone goes out of their way to do something nice. It's not dead in the world, you still see it from time to time, but its less. I've spoken with men about it, and a lot of men don't hold doors, offer to carry things, etc, because they've been scolded in the past. How does everyone feel about this?
2 people like this
7 responses
@Lindalinda (4112)
• Canada
24 Jul 08
You don't have to give up being a woman in order to be a feminist. Evey woman today needs a skill or profession to be able to earn a living for herself and if need be to raise a family on her own. I was in the work force when fthe movement really took off. I could always open my own doors and carry my own parcels, move furniture around, cut the grass and paint a room. The charming old fashioned ways kept women confined and precluded them from earning the same salary as a man with the same qualifications and education. Women can do without coats thrown over puddles but it is so important that they are paid the same for the same work if they have the same qualifications. We can't have it both ways. We can't be damsels in distress and at the same time demand equal rights. So we should stick with equal rights. I was very fortunate to work in a place that paid me the same as a man which enabled me to raise two kids and send them to university out of town and later they were able to make a good living for themselves.
• United States
25 Jul 08
Because I never had to live in a world where I wasn't equal, I guess it is easier for me to long for the pleasantries that being a woman used to provide. Thanks for the response!
1 person likes this
@Taskr36 (13924)
• United States
3 Oct 08
I think it's sad that so many women are actively offended by chivalry and common courtesy. I'm one of those guys who always opens doors, offers to carry things, and picks something up when a woman drops it. Believe me, I've been scolded and criticized for such behavior more times than I can count. That said, it's who I am. I'm not going to be a jerk and conform to what such women want just because they can't accept courtesy. That's their problem. I'll just be me and do what I know is right. With many men they just want to be liked and are willing to make such changes to their behavior. For me, it's easier to be nice, but many men quickly discover that it's not only easier, but much more frequently appreciated when they behave like jerks. For the record, I've never thrown my coat in a puddle of water for a woman to walk over. I live in Florida and never wear a coat. I did however, during Halloween take off my Zorro cape and put it on a dirty wet bench for a friend to sit on since her skirt was rather short and she wouldn't be sitting there otherwise.
• United States
3 Oct 08
I like your response! My brother is the same way that you are, his attitude is that he wants to be with a woman that wants to be treated like a lady. There are so few of you guys left!!
• United States
9 Oct 08
Donna, I agree... if a man drops something of course I offer to help him pick it up! So there is some courtesy that is not gender specific.
@meggan79 (436)
• United States
24 Jul 08
I think I could probably do without a guy throwing his coat in a puddle for me (who wants to make a guy walk around with a muddy coat ) I am on the edge of this one and could probably fall either way. I think what women tend to be so far feminist that they don't want men to do anything for them or so far "women" that they can't do anything themself. I think when the feminist movement started that those women were not wanting what the women of today portray. I think they just wanted to be treated as an equal, no better no worse. It is like if a guy has his hands full, it is just as polite for a woman to offer him help. If a woman gets to the door first, she should hold it open for the man. I guess I would consider myself more of an equalist then a feminist.
• United States
25 Jul 08
I see where you are coming from, I would have to say though that I would NEVER want to be considered an "equal" to men! They have so many shortcomings, LOL!! Seriously though, women and men tend to have different (equal, but different) skill sets. I think we can retain some of the I guess "old fashioned" division of the sexes without losing any rights?
1 person likes this
@meggan79 (436)
• United States
25 Jul 08
I agree that men and women are completely different. I think our differences is the things that make us go weak at the knees when a guy does do the gentleman/romantic things for us. I think alot of them have been scared off by doing it. I am sure you can only be scolded for doing these things so many times that you just stop doing them all together. I think if women allowed the men to do it and men did it more, everyone would be happier (a little bit anyways).
• India
6 Oct 08
I consider myself a feminist because I argue for the rights of women. But I have to admit that it's quite confusing. As a man I would readily admit that men are generally physically stronger than women. And since men are physically stronger than women, if I offer to carry things, I guess, women should be willing. And I also feel that if I offer my seat in the bus, I guess, women should be willing. I don't think it's a way of communication that she's inferior. But I've been scolded in the past and so I don't know when I need to be chivalrous and when I hold back.
• United States
6 Oct 08
That is the kind of thing I miss, maybe its geographical, but I rarely see men doing the things you said anymore! I agree with you fully, offering to do nice things for women does not undermine a woman's abilities in any way. If I ever have kids, the boys I send out into the world will be gentlemen all the way. Or I hope so, anyway!
@Angelwriter (1956)
• United States
10 Aug 08
Hard question because of how it's phrased. There's nothing wrong with the things you've listed and they can be quite pleasant. Courtesy is a good thing, and it's nit picky and splitting hairs to say you can't be a feminist and like someone to open doors for you. It's a gesture of politeness, not a sign that a woman is too weak to open the door herself. I just don't agree that liking these things makes you a woman. Those things don't make you (or any female) a woman, so not having them doesn't mean you're giving up being a woman. There are women who don't want men to carry things or hold doors open or to throw coats over puddles, but they're are women all the same and haven't given it up. I think you mean do you have to give up the old fashioned courtesies that gentlemen give to ladies. Which I know is much longer to say, but I'd hate to think that a female who doesn't like those things is not considered a woman. And, the answer is still no, you don't have to give it up.
• United States
10 Aug 08
Thanks for the response! Yeah, I guess I never considered that there are women who don't prefer this kind of treatment... Good point!
• United States
26 Jul 08
All that chivalry ever got us was controlled, unable to speak our minds, lousy if any jobs, uneducated, used, abused and virtually enslaved. Ewwwwww, no thanks! I'm double your age and I can say without hesitation, trust me you don't want the pre-feminist days back, ever. I'm a firm believer in common courtesy between people, gender doesn't enter into it. I want nothing more than that. I don't expect or want my husband to run around the car and open my door after we park the car. I don't expect or want him to open an entrance door when I'm the first one there. He's 53 and a "southern gentleman" so he still reverts sometimes. That's the way he was raised but sometimes I have to remind him that though it's kind of him to do so, it's not necessary. But I do it gently and would never scold him or anyone else for being kind. A lot of women my age and a little older go a bit overboard sometimes. They fought so hard for equality that they lost sight of the difference between chivalry and common courtesy. A lot of men got the brunt of the fallout. Things have gotten so much better over the years though. We still have a ways to go but we'll get there.
• United States
26 Jul 08
I really like the way you phrased that, "they fought so hard for equality that they lost sight of the difference between chivalry and common courtesy". That much more eloquently states what I was going for! Seeing as I've reaped the benefits of being a modern woman, I guess now I long for the part I never got to see. But had I lived it, I would probably be singing a different tune, I'm sure! Thanks for the reply!
@deem1977 (242)
• United States
26 Jul 08
You certainly don't need to give up being a woman to be a feminist. Feminism is all about equality. I enjoy it when men hold doors open for me, but I also hold doors open for them if I reach them first. Personally, I am not persuaded that men have stopped performing some of these courtesies because they have been scolded in the past. Even if they have been scolded by strangers, I assume that if you are talking to them about this that they are not strangers to you so do they open doors for you now that they know you would appreciate it? I think that a lot of practices involved with courtesy have declined in recent years. And I say this as a woman who well remembers a time when men were opening doors for women, while closing other doors (such as doors to equal pay, and career positions, etc.) I think society has become so "casual" for lack of a better word that many people, especially younger people, don't have experience in practicing etiquette and social skills.
• United States
26 Jul 08
I agree with you, that a lot of what I'm missing is because society is so casual. And I'm sure I'm romanticizing the past; I wasn't there, so I couldn't really being doing anything but that, right? Thanks for the reply!