It’s 2017. My favorite response to someone’s outdated way of thinking; racism, sexism, objectification and other such topics, is to reference the actual year we live in. “Jesus dude, it’s 2017.” We have all done this, right? It is a statement to represent the passing of time. Usually in reference to the ‘big events’ where humans decided to stop being such pricks, i.e. the emancipation proclamation, January 1st, 1863. Women’s right to vote, August 18th, 1920. Desegregation of schools, during the late 1950’s. We like to reference the passing of time, because it still shocks us that, today, there are still people in our society that think and do things predicated on such an outdated social system. I, as a woman, experience this outdated behavior regularly. I encounter on a daily basis, men and women, that say and do things that blow my mind, takes the breath out of my lungs, that they have not fully embraced ‘2017’.
Let me give some background as to my persons. I am a 27-year-old, single, ‘white colored’ Hispanic female. I am an undergraduate student, planning for graduate school. I work a crappy night job serving cocktails to pay rent and bills. I’ve recently gone through some ‘big life changes’. I was married, I am no longer married. This change, to single Ali, has exposed me to a lot of behavior that I thought had long since ceased. Oh, I was so wrong.
So lets talk experiences. Dating. When I do venture to go on a date with someone I deem worthy to spend my time with, I like to pay. I like to pay for the check, because I am grossly disturbed by the socially constructed norm that a man needs to take care of a woman, financially. I do not identify as a feminist, I am a self labeled ‘equalist’. Why should a man have to pay for everything? I work. I make money. So why would I not be held equally accountable for the food and beverages being purchased? Why should he feel that he has to pay, like it is his duty, his obligation? So yes, I like to pay. And what do I get in response for my efforts? It is usually a display of macho-ism, a look of shock, a combination of the two. That I am somehow emasculating this person, I am taking away what makes him a ‘man’. I always get the push back, the “no no, I’ve got this.” I will then explain that it genuinely matters to me, it is not a false action on my part, I would like to pay or split the check. How many times the date actually heard me, understood what I was trying to say; once. One time, one guy. He was intelligent, articulate, progressive. The bill came, he reached for it, out of habit from this socially constructed norm, I gave my spiel, he obliged, and he was gracious for it. He understood my efforts on a level that I appreciated. (Not to mention, that I also broke a gender norm, by pursuing and asking this guy out).
All the other times, I was not heard; it was ‘silly’ of me to offer to pay. It was ‘odd’. I am assuming from their point of view that it was some fake gesture; to just ‘look the part’ of an independent woman, but that I assuredly anticipated a display of macho-ism and refusal to let me pay. If you are a woman, or man, and pride yourself on your ‘progressive nature’ then stop abiding by these outdated gender norms. If you believe in a progressive society, and genuinely define equality among sexes as the true definition of equal, than break these norms. Men, start expecting women to pay. Women, stop coming to dates with an empty wallet. Servers, stop automatically handing the check book to the males at the table.
Yeah, yeah, I know. In a perfect world.
More encounters to come.