I always have to sigh when discussions about feminism devolve to focusing on manners. Should men open doors for women? Who pays on a date? Should men feel obligated to censor their language in front of women in a manner they wouldn't in front of men?
C'mon people. The error I see in all the sexism vs. manners questions is the assumption that the issue is gender expectations. The point of feminism, as I see it, is not even feminism so much as it is humanism. Quit worrying about how you're supposed to treat a gender and start seeing people as people. If you go out of your way to treat everyone around you well, you'll probably feel better about yourself and be a happier person in general.
Doors - whoever gets there first opens it. It's nice and often helpful. I'm always pleasantly surprised when the person ahead of me holds the door for me. Sometimes a man will go to extra effort to reach the door first and then hold it for the people behind him. That's nice. The fact that he's male doesn't make it a chauvenistic gesture.
Dates - don't get me started. To cut a long rant short, I think people would be much better off focusing on activities that don't cost anything. Who decreed a high priced dinner and movie the default date? Wouldn't a hike (free) and picnic (nearly free) be better for getting to know a person? If either party is shelling out big bucks on a date, it sets up an imbalance. One of the habits I want to instill in my daughters is always bringing along money of her own and always at least offering to pay her way... and NOT thinking a guy is cheap if he accepts her offer.
Language - no-brainer... Speaker: If you wouldn't want your mom to hear you say it, then just don't say it at all. Listener: If someone is using coarse language and it's offending you, you can ask them to cool it or you can physically remove yourself. Either way, you aren't guaranteed a happy result, but I think it's unrealistic and unreasonable to expect everyone around you to bend over backwards to avoid offending you. Like every other reaction, offense is a choice. And usually not a very productive one.
I've involved myself in too many debates over the years, usually with resentful men and women... the feminist/manners issue has just been overdone...
But today and event brought it all up for me.
I did my Costco shopping, toddler in tow and increasingly large belly to add to the fun. They piled my stuff in huge boxes, so when I was in the parking lot, trying to wrestle my toddler into her carseat while loading about 120 pounds of bulky stuff into an already half-full Taurus trunk, I was getting very frustrated. My back was killing me. Finally, feeling very sorry for myself, I finished the task. Except that I hadn't gotten out of the house on time, so I missed the Executive Member hours and was shopping with the hoi polloi ( for those of you who don't know me well, yet, please understand I use that term with tongue-in-cheek). The parking lot was completely packed, so I'd parked far away from the cart return (new mommies, heed my advice: a parking space proximal to the store is not the goal - park as close as you can to the cart returns!). So the quandary: do I get the toddler out of the car seat and carry her with me to the cart return, and then have to go through the buckling-in mayhem all over again? Or do I lock the car doors and hurry the cart across the parking lot, leaving her there alone?
Before I could make my decision, the gentleman parked next to me finished unloading his merchandise. Immediately, he offered to take my cart back to the return. What a relief! I think he was a little surprised when I thanked him emphatically. For him, it probably wasn't a big deal, but - obviously - his kindness made my day.
Kindness transcends gender politics.
In my little corner of the world, anyway.