Why Gendered Etiquette Needs To Go

"Ladies first!" - the announcement that comes with so many open doors, sometimes accompanied by a kind smile, sometimes with a snide inflection, sometimes played as a joke. It's amazing how two words and a simple action can have so many connotations, depending on the attitude and intention of the person who said it. Even if done with good intentions, the action makes me feel a bit uncomfortable because I am perfectly capable of opening that door by myself, as an able woman, but most of all it is those two words that make me uncomfortable. They amplify the idea that one gender must care for the other physically and puts emphasis on someone's gender. It's all just a bit weird, isn't it?

Then there's the unspoken expectation that hovers over some tables at restaurants around the country; that the man will pay the bill on a date. I suppose, when women didn't used to work and depended on men to pay, because they were in charge of the money, then it would make sense. However, we now live in 2018, and women working is the norm. So why have we kept such ancient ideas and gender roles? It's also very unfair to always place such a financial burden on the man in this situation. It's hardly right to put the onus to pay on a person just because they identify as a man, instead of splitting it equally or letting the person with the best financial situation pay (which could be anyone).

More and more people are now rightly accepting the gender is a spectrum, so how do these very gendered behaviours also affect people who don't fit in these boxes? It's all awkward and unnecessary, and terribly outdated.

Etiquette is not all bad: eating properly, shaking hands and kissing cheeks are lovely things that encourage mutual respect between people but it's time that we shed the gendered actions which only serve to highlight differences. I think that when most individuals do these things, then they are simply doing what they feel is right or are being nice, without having thought about everything behind it. That's why it's important to deconstruct and question our learned behaviours though, because something that we do without thinking can still be problematic and personally, I want to strive to be the best person I can be.

I still hope for total equality one day, and if little gendered things exist, then they are symptomatic of a larger problem that is still persisting.

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