“Not my kid….”

My co-worker rides the bus to work and sees all kinds of things. The other day he told this story. It’s an interesting snapshot of cultural and social change.

This co-worker commutes on the bus and one day recently a pregnant woman got on. The bus was pretty full so she went back to the middle of it. A young man was seated in the general vicinity. An older woman, maybe middle-aged, pointed her finger at the young man and in a snotty voice demanded to know if he would stand so the pregnant woman could sit. He did give up his seat. Then the woman looked at the older man who happened to be sitting across from her and made some remark in a huffy voice about young men and their lack of manners. To his everlasting credit, the man looked at her and said in a level voice “Not my kid….” That didn’t sit well with her at all.

Some observations. One is an aspect of the female role that activates when a woman gets to an age where she thinks she’s everyone’s mother. This licenses them to dictate behavior to everyone because everyone needs their direction to behave properly. There is a good expression of this kind of parental concern for society in general, but this isn’t it. (By the way this is why I will not have a female dog of any herding breed in the house. They can be insufferably officious and directive.)

Another is the lopsidedness of expectations around [degenerate] chivalry. Did you notice that the older woman never offered her own seat to the expectant mother, and that even so she felt entitled to order a stranger around to do just that?

Another is a cultural expectation that all men have some kind of duty of accomodation and solicitude to all pregnant women (which apparently women do not.) This is enough of a cultural expectation that the older woman felt she could invoke it to the desired effect, and in fact that worked.

And finally another is that the winds of change are blowing, however faintly. When the older woman called on a bystander of her own generation for moral support – ganging up on a stranger is always so satisfying, isn’t it, and when it’s in the service smug self-righteousness, it can be truly sweet – she didn’t get it. Her supposed back up shut her down.

This is progress, and it’s not isolated any more. By way of context, this is Seattle, liberal, forward-looking Seattle, so this may be happening here a little sooner than elsewhere. More than once, several times in fact, I have had young women offer me their seat on the bus. I’m only ever going a few blocks so I don’t take them up on it, but they seem genuinely pleased to be doing this small courtesy. I think it is a generous and gentle way of reminding me of my age. Miss Manners predicted this more than thirty years ago, that we were passing from a gender-based system of deference to one based on age (just as we had passed form a class-based system of deference to the gender-based one earlier.)

So perhaps the decaying wreckage of traditional chivalry and [benevolent] sexist deference to women by men is truly starting to crumble.

Please discuss.

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  • Nicolas Fabbroni Leroy

    Which is why feminism never picked up here in Panama. Some women started the jabbering about it a few years back, us men smugly smiled and said “Sure thing, but then we wouldn’t have to give up our seat, open doors, and Ladies’ Nights would be gone and you’d have to pay for your drinks like us guys”.

    The ladies intelligently decided that it’s best for us to get along. Proud of my countrywomen, they even opposed the “antiflirting” law that was almost pushed, and us men generally agreed to keep the flirts polite and unvulgar.

    That’s right, third world people can be more progressive lol.

    • http://www.genderratic.com/ Ginkgo

      Two things. I’ve been to Panama. It is not third world. You people have a lot to be proud in your society. Second, it’s a question of equality and if the costs and benefits are equally apportioned, that’s one thing. In Anglophone countries they are not.

      • mikediver

        People really should travel more. My wife is from the Philippines. Whenever she gets on her “I am from a poor Country” high horse I let her know this is BS. I have been to the Philippines and I have been to some really horrid third world shitholes. The Philippines, and Panama, are not among them.

        • http://www.genderratic.com/ Ginkgo

          Hey, totally unrelated – how much grief do you get, of any kind including sanctimonious “concern” do you get from white women because you married an Asian woman?

        • Hitzbahly

          Sometimes traveling doesn’t do much to ease these worries as they don’t have to deal with certain frustrating procedures there. Of course, Panama isn’t that horrible, it’s actually a boon. Would like to know what you think about Lebanon if that was on your route.

      • Nicolas Fabbroni Leroy

        Well…. to be fair… been dealing with govt’ offices and politicians recently, may be a bit embittered lol

        • http://www.genderratic.com/ Ginkgo

          By that measure Chicago is third world. Bangkok is third world.

          • Nicolas Fabbroni Leroy

            All this said, it’s been comforting to have 2 random foreign strangers say “you ain’t third world”, thanks =D (0 sarcasm, I’m in the tourism industry so how Panama is perceived abroad matters quite a bit)

      • Nicolas Fabbroni Leroy

        (and I know we ain’t third world, I’d be long gone if it were the case)

  • LF

    Chivalry won’t come back. My hypothesis is that in years for gone when divorce wasn’t an option women made men work to get their hand in marriage. This called men to step up their game to compete and chivalry was born into something women of those times expected universally. Now women can’t agree on anything and have become so fickle that even the same woman has constantly changing standards and expectations.

    • http://www.genderratic.com/ Ginkgo

      ” Now women can’t agree on anything and have become so fickle that even the same woman has constantly changing standards and expectations. ”
      And when men start to care about their own standards and expectations, chivalry will start to die.

      • Shockwave

        It already has.

      • LF

        It is starting which is the premise of this article.

  • Keith_Indy

    The response ought to be, nah, equality…

    • http://www.genderratic.com/ Ginkgo

      Exactly. I think that is getting to be more and more common, and I think that’s good.

      • Keith_Indy

        Of course, for instance, I hold doors open equally, if there is someone coming in behind me for instance. It’s rude to let a door slam in someone’s face, whether they are a woman or a man.

        Civility should be an equal opportunity thing. Demanding it doesn’t show respect.

        • http://www.genderratic.com/ Ginkgo

          I think the key is expectation. If the person you hold the door for is even a little grateful, it shows they don’t expect as some kind of right they hold.

  • Neptus 9

    That Western women’s behavior is selfish, petty, and largely unnecessary shows that they never really had anything to rebel against. If they were really oppressed at all they’d generally be considerate and well mannered; instead they continue to behave as though brought up to be royalty.

  • craichead

    Chivalry isn’t gone. It’s just that now we’re not expected to give up a seat on the bus, we’re expected to give up a seat on the board.

    • Adanu

      If Chivalry isn’t gone for you, I pity your existence. Western women are ridiculous to deal with now.