I am so confused. I was brought up in a traditional preppy environment where girls took sewing and cooking classes and boys learned woodworking. Where parent-teacher conferences included moms only, except the history and the physics teachers. Where boys were taught to open doors for girls and not to put their feet on the table, and girls were constantly reminded to sit with their ankles tightly closed. But, mistakenly, I was planted in the post-feminist age. Opening a door for a girl may be considered an insult, the presence of only one parent at a school conference appears disrespectful, and where the more senior your title, the more comfortable you are placing your foot on the table, in front of an audience. Help!!!!
I know that I am not the only one who still struggles to discern the relationship between gender equality and acceptable manners. We have all noticed liberated references to “she” instead of “he” in media articles and even user manuals. The NY Times just wrote about confusion in the restaurant business, where each establishment is left to decide whether the chair should be pulled out in courtesy and for whom, who gets the menu first, who tastes the wine and who is offered the bill. Still, in my daughter's preschool, I see girls encouraged to play nurses and boys to play doctors in their hospital simulation unit. Yet, my son has proudly taken a cooking class with his boyfriends, all age 7, and forced me to try his own egg rolls. I so enjoy taking a hammer and unhesitatingly nailing a picture on the wall. But I hate it when lights in our house get broken whenever my husband is away. I do not like serving but I do like being served. I feel loved when men are taking my coat. Yet, I hate it when, after dinner, men go to the living room while women clean up in the table. I feel so full of contradictions. I feel like a number divided by zero.