A friend of mine is seven months pregnant. Visibly pregnant. Not pregnant in the “is she pregnant or just fat?” kind of pregnant. Pregnant in "there is no mistaking she is pregnant," pregnant. Everyday she commutes from a suburb in New Jersey to New York City for her job. As part of this commute, she must take the Path Train.
Imagine a hot summer day, and a packed train. As my friend gets on the train, how many men do you think offered her their seat? ZERO. That’s right, not one man on that train offered up their seat to my friend.
Forty years ago, as a woman, regardless of whether she was pregnant, she would have been offered a seat. Now, here we are in 2012, and as a pregnant woman she wasn’t even offered a seat. What happened to chivalry? Why aren’t young boys being taught to hold doors, pay for dinner, offer their jackets to a chilly date, and give up their seat to a woman? Why aren’t their mothers teaching them these things? Because really I can’t blame the men, I blame their parents. If a boy is not taught to be chivalrous, or it isn’t an example set forth by his own father, then how will he learn it? Where along the way did parents stop raising their sons to become gentlemen?
I know there are many women reading this right now appalled. The women who fought so hard for equality. And to them I would say, yes, I am fully capable of opening my own car door, or paying for a meal, or remembering to wear a sweater if its chilly, but why should I have to? I certainly don’t believe I am the weaker sex, but I do believe I am the fairer, and I do believe I should be treated as such.
I have to ask myself, is it the women who are appalled reading this, the women who fought so hard for women’s rights, who burned their bras and broke through glass ceilings that aren’t teaching their sons to be chivalrous? Maybe for those women they don’t want doors held open, or seats given up, so they don’t feel a need to teach their sons to do these things. But I am not one of them. I believe we can be strong, independent women and still let a man take care of us. Even if it’s just in these small ways.
My son is 9 years old. Recently, we were at the mall together and he held open the door for a woman as she was walking into a store. He offers to help me when I am carrying in groceries, offers to carry something if it looks like I am struggling, and offers his younger sister his jacket if she is chilly. That’s what a gentleman would do, and that is the kind of son I am trying to raise. One who will support his wife if she wants to be CEO, but will hold the door open for her as she walks out of their house every morning.