Battle of the Sexes

Gender Equality?A Swedish girl I dated very briefly was quite into the feminist movement.  Everything was to be perfectly equal between the sexes.  There should be no chauvinism, and men should treat women as complete equals, and should not treat them as a weaker gender.  If you took a girl out to dinner one night, then she should reciprocate by buying the movie tickets.  And if the movie tickets were worth less than the dinner, well, she should buy dessert too.

Excuse me, what?

Let me first apologize to all of the feminists out there by explaining that while I am all for equality between the sexes and for ensuring equality between races, I don’t see the big problem with treating a woman like she’s something special to me, because maybe she is!  Meaning that I don’t mind buying a girl a drink or treating her to a dinner every once in a while.  That doesn’t mean that I want to pay for everything every single time, but it does mean that I’ll gladly hold the door open for her and let her get into the elevator first.  I don’t do it because I want to exert my male power over her, or because I want to show her that I make more money (which I don’t, since everyone in Sweden gets paid peanuts, and the same number of peanuts at that!).  It’s just because I wanted to be nice and spoil her a little.

But Swedes don’t seem to like that.  They don’t like it when men do things for the women.  Somewhere, somehow, they were taught that all women could do everything the men could, and vice versa (aside from the obvious biological act of bearing a child), so they’ve come to expect nothing from their male counterparts.  I am speaking somewhat generally, of course.

A few months ago, I held the main door open for some colleagues at work.  We have over 1,100 employees at this building so I didn’t know who they were, but they were older women, probably in their late 40s.  To open the door, I had to pull the door open and step to the side.  She looked at me while I stood with the door open, expecting me to go in first. But I smiled and tilted my head ever so slightly to indicate that she and her colleagues should go through first.  As she walked through the door, she muttered (in Swedish),

Oh, why do you always have to make it so complicated?

Since she didn’t know who I was, by “you” I think she was referring to the male gender.  True story.

Then there’s the seating question on the bus.  When I am sitting in a packed bus and I see a group of elderly people get on, I gladly give up my seat for them.  But every so often I’ll get a judgmental and suspicious look from an older lady…

No, lady.  I wanted to give you my seat not because you were the weaker sex but because you’re weaker, and that’s only because you’re 90 years old, not because you have XX sex chromosomes.  Geez.

I am also a little confused by “gender equality” in the bar and club scene.  On a Friday or Saturday night, the most beautiful girls will put on their dancing shoes, put on their makeup, and get into their sexy outfits and head out to Stureplan.  They’ll queue up in front of the velvet rope at the hottest clubs in town.  Maybe Sturecompagniet.  Maybe Ambassadeur or Solidaritet.  The doormen will take a quick look at them and let the hottest ones in.  And the girls will be happy that they just got in without waiting and without paying the cover charge of 200 SEK. And all of the other people still waiting in the queue won’t say a word because they know that’s just how it works.

Huh?  I thought they wanted to be treated like equals?  Or is it, “treat me like an equal except when it’s to my advantage?”  I’m still not sure.

To be fair – not all of the girls I know in Sweden are like this.  Some of them still like to pay for themselves when it comes to dinner and drinks, but they’re okay with a guy spoiling them once in a while.  Everyone likes to feel special, right?  I treat certain friends (male and female) better than other friends because they are closer to me.  Everyone does.  Should we start up a  “friend equality” movement?

I know that women have been oppressed for far too long.  But does that mean we have to be 100% gender-equal when it comes to every single aspect of life?

Gender equality – A #TrulySwedish paradigm.  What’s your viewpoint? Post in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Battle of the Sexes

  1. Judit

    For Swedes this is a question of gender equality.
    For me it is simply being polite and considerate.
    Bad thing is, that I noticed on myself the effects of living in this reality for many years by now. Here in Sweden and even at home (Hungary), I started to let men go in front of me on the escalator, not even noticing that they slip through the door before me when I opened it etc.
    Good thing is though, that some men are very receptive when you encourage them and acknowledge that it is nice, if they open the door for you, help you with your coat on, treat you for a dinner etc.


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