Is it really so bad?

Hey all, I suppose this isn’t a place you would normally find me. I am a 21 year old college student. I am a political science major, sociology double major, and international studies focus. I am a member of a fraternity, and love my brothers. Most importantly for this post, I was raised in the south but moved north, and I am confused about some aspects of feminism. I was raised with the ideals of gentlemanly behavior and courtesy towards women. Not that they are weaker or less capable (because believe me, there are some STRONG southern women in my family who I would never want to cross) but that, as men, we should hold our behavior to a higher standard around women in order to present ourselves in the best light.

Mainly, this spurs from an encounter I had with a young woman who I was interested in. I met her at a party, and found her wildly beautiful, and got the guts to go talk to her. Needless to say, meeting someone at a college party is never the best first impression, so I asked her instead to go out with me the next night. Remember, we had never met before, and I didn’t know a thing about her. She agreed, and my story continues the next night. I texted her and asked if she would go to dinner with me, and she agreed. Everything was going well, until I picked her up. I pulled up in front of her dorm, and she walked towards the car. I did what I do for any important date, and I got out to open the door for her. She laughed and said ‘thanks, but I can handle it’ in what I thought was a light hearted manner. On the way to dinner she told me she was a woman’s studies major, and a feminist activist. I didn’t really know too much about feminism at the time, and went along with the conversation. When we got to the restaurant, I once again opened the door for her on the way in, only this time she said ‘seriously, I can handle it’ still with a smile on her face. I could tell she was peeved by my actions, and I was so confused. When ordering, the waiter walked up and looked at me, and I said ‘ladies first’ which comes naturally to me. I’ll tell you, if you could see the glare I got from my date, you would understand my confusion. She looked at me as if I had just insulted her on the highest level. At this point in the date it was clearly uncomfortable for both of us, and I tried to make small talk. It went alright for a bit, until she asked me why I came up to her to ask her out. I answered honestly, and said ‘well, I thought you were gorgeous, and if I missed my chance to ask you out I would have regretted it’. I thought that was a flattering answer, until I heard her reply. She asked ‘so, you only liked me for my looks?’. How am I supposed to answer that! Of course I only judged her by her looks at the time, I had never met her before. The whole purpose of the date was to learn more! Anyways, from that point on it was down hill. She said I was chauvinistic and treated women too delicately. At the end of the date, it was clear it would be our last one.

Anyways, my question to this community is…Am I really such a bad guy for believing in my values of treating women in a higher-class manner? I just don’t get it, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me at all. I am all for equality and leaders who choose diplomacy over violence and human rights over economic gain. However, I just don’t agree that our culture needs to be so equal that my holding a door open for a lady is seen as an offense.

Sorry, if I anger anyone, it was not my intention.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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