Don’t Gender Traditionalism and Feminism conflict with one another? Do I still follow all societal Gender traditions? Are there some which I don’t follow anymore? If so, what are they? Why do or don’t I follow them still? These are all really good questions that I get asked on a regular basis. Surprisingly, the answer to a lot of them is a bit more simple than you would think!
Asking for Dates
I was the one who initiated the conversation with my Husband when we reconnected on OKCupid 3 years ago. It was my Husband, though, who asked me on our first date… And socially the Men, are considered responsible for asking a Woman on a romantic date.
However, this is a tradition that I have since done away with, along with the ideology that Men should pay for that date by default (which I’ll get to in a moment); in my opinion, if you are interested in someone then I see no reason to play coy and not ask for what you want. I think that it is misleading to send all the hints and expect them to make the move- and if you are going to put in all that effort you might as well ask them yourself.
Paying for the first date
This one is a little more complicated, in my opinion. Finances are a touchy subject and Men are indeed raised to be the sole financial providers in a family (and to feel the burden and stress of such a subject). But I do not feel as if this is one such area where it should apply. Instead, for me it really boils down to who asked the other on a date- and this extends into social dates between friends as well.
If I ask several people to an outing I feel that it is only fair I foot the bill for it. It was by my invitation, after all, that they came out with me. Likewise, if a Man was the one to ask me on the date, then it should be his responsibility to foot that bill. Again, it was by his invitation that I was there- and I would expect myself to foot the bill in the same circumstance if it were my invitation instead.
Ordering for Women on Dates
My Husband and I do this, but we also don’t.
In terms of who orders: In many cases, I will be the one that orders for the both of us simply because my Husband has Social Anxiety; it is hard for him to do certain things unless he is comfortable with the people around him- which is rarely the case when out in Public. For this reason, this action is actually one that we have elected not to keep.
However, he does often still decide on my food and drink for me. This, though, is in my interest and is not an act of control on his part. Instead, this is only ever the case when I am being indecisive- and it is because of the fact that, when my wants are in conflict with one another, I have an impossible time making a final decision. As a result, I will often narrow it down to two things and ask him to decide for me… Otherwise we would be there all night while I tried to make up my mind.
For us, it’s one of those halfway marks where we have chosen to do away with some, but not all, aspects of this Tradition for many reasons.
Opening the Door
Yes, my Husband opens the doors for me- and I cannot tell you how uncomfortable it made me for the first 6 months of our relationship. I thought “he must think that I can’t do it myself” and actively rallied against it for a long while; I would actively push and shove my way to doors in order to open them for myself.
One day, I broke down and asked him about it, though. After a lengthy discussion on it, I came to realize that it wasn’t him saying that he thought I was weak or inferior to him… But that it was his way of showing that he cared for me. It was also a method of showing me respect by allowing me to go before him. At that point, I gave in to it and stopped resisting.
Due, in part, to our culture? We have different methods of expressing similar Languages of Love (which, for both of us, are Service oriented). But we both genuinely enjoy participating in the acts of service that we choose to express that love through. And if that is how he wishes to show his respect and admiration for me? Then I feel that it is rude to deny him that- especially when it doesn’t hurt, belittle, or degrade me in any manner to accept it from him.
Serving the Men first
Serving the Men first is a thing that Women are expected to do- especially as Domestics. To me, though, it is my own way of showing him the same thing he shows me when opening doors for me: That I love and care for him, and respect him.
There are also many practical elements to this, as well… And I do fully believe that if a Man is the one cooking, then it should be the Woman who is served first as a matter of respect. Before all else, though, should be the Children; I have never quite agreed with the idea that Adults should come before children in terms of food and being served.
Lifting Heavy Objects
My Husband does most of the heavy lifting in our Household for many reasons. We both lift weights regularly as part of our individual exercise routines, but physiologically I am still smaller and weaker than he is- and I have a much harder time building muscle and strength compared to him.
I also have several health conditions that make strenuous, regular heavy lifting hard for me even though weightlifting, in some aspects, has helped that over the years. So this is a case where I often legitimately cannot do it for myself- though he regularly calls me stubborn for trying to anyways.
I’ve focused on what Men are socially “supposed” to do in terms of relationships because these are some of the most common social traditions that I am often asked about. To me, these are the most important to address, too, because (in a lot of cases) these actions are often labeled as Benevolent Sexism when performed. Benevolent Sexism exists and certainly is a concern for my Husband and I as Choice Feminists– though we appear very Traditionalist on the surface.
And we are still Traditionalists in a more modern sense. But if you dig a little bit deeper than the surface, participating in these actions is often more than just a cultural and Traditionalist thing for us. We’ve asked ourselves many questions when determining whether or not to keep carrying on these Traditions… Like are there practical elements of doing things this way? Is it more polite to do it in this manner? Why is it more polite? Because for us it is about equality, respect, politeness, practicality, and many other things. So when determining what traditions to keep, and which to throw out, these things usually factor into our decisions.
And when you begin to scratch more than just surface area? There is an aspect of social politeness to many of these acts, and it does benefit my Husband and I to participate in them on many practical levels. I glossed over them a slight bit in this article, though, because I’ve already spoken about some of the practical and polite aspects of some of these in articles like “12 Questions Every Feminist is Asked“, “Facing Bigotry: Why I Do What I Do“, and “Facing Bigotry: Deconstructing Arguments Against Housewifery“.
In our opinion, while they may have Sexist origins? Even as Modern Gender Traditionalists, we believe that the reasoning should run deeper than “culture and society says”. If it does, then neither of us sees any harm in continuing to carry a lot of them out… At least not so long as it is recognized that the other Gender(s) is (are) capable of doing it themselves, and they are allowed (or even expected) to do so when the opportunity or necessity arises. And because of the practical and simply polite nature of most things, we do often expect both Men and Women to equally participate in them; we think it is both impolite and ridiculous to expect only Men or only Women to perform such actions.
On a foundational level, sociopolitical equality means not only that both (all) groups should have the same range of sociopolitical choices available to them- and the ability to make them without shame or fear of sociopolitical retaliation… But also that they should have the same expectations of polite (and practical) behavior. And I think it makes one very much a hypocrite not to acknowledge that.