Having dinner with some friends we got to talk about things we notice in Sweden that are different from our own cultures. When you are in an international group, somehow the conversation always head to talk about swedes and their unique way of being.
For sure one of the first things we talked about was:
EQUALITY: Which comes in a sweet and a sour taste for some of us. Back home being a girl comes with some, let’s call it “privileges”, for now. Help with heavy bags, doors magically opening in front of you, front seat of a car full of boys. Now and then a nice gentleman will give you a seat in the bus. In Sweden gender equality is so much into the culture that you do not see these things so often (not to say never).
The sweet part of equality is, as a girl, you get to walk peacefully through the street. You do not have to worry to change sidewalk when walking in front of a construction place. No whistling, no dirty, disgusting yelling at you wearing a short skirt or a summer dress. Specially not disgusting looks that make you feel wrong. Keeping the sweet up, guys are not mommy’s boys. Swedish boys are independent, clean and helpful at home. They would not expect you to do all the cleaning on your own. They also have a big role in parenting! I have never seen more daddies with a stroller in my life!
In a less sweet part of equality I would like to say that in the search for being equal we have lost some things as well. I do not demand to have “girl privileges” because I do not think they are. I think that the fact that a guy wants to help me with a bag or open the door for me does not make me weaker; when I can do the same for him. I think that caring for each other is important and guys are letting this part of themselves go away. What if another girl wants to help you, then Will your independence be threat it? Being a gentleman has been associated so much with being sexist that we are killing this beautiful part of being a men.
Guys are not gentleman because they will get the look “Do you think I am not able to do it myself?” and who wants that? When you do something nice for someone else the least you wait is a smile and a “tack”. They are scared to do something nice for you!
The reason why men open the door for women, the reason why they want to make their lives easier, when they can, is because of respect and admiration. They admire the strong mother at home and they respect the little sister they have. This is why at home they are taught to treat girls as a princess because they all deserve the same love and protection as their mother and sister; NOT because they are weaker. They do not intend to threat your rights as a women or your independence. They just treasure the sacrifice and work made by other women in their lives. In my point of view this is something beautiful to do and we should not give a dirty look to someone who is trying to be nice to you. Is a simple gesture of humanity in either way: girl to boy or boy to girl. So why do we want to kill the boy to girl part?
I understand the struggle we have been through to be equally respected at work and society. I DO NOT think we should quit because there is still a loooong way to go. I just think that attacking a man who cedes a place to you in the bus is not the way to get there.
I wrote this in the risk of sounding bias but I would like people to understand the beauty of being a gentleman. What we lost by quitting to it. We should take the good part of everything and get rid of the bad side. In this case, the sexism that accompanied being a gentleman. Transform the concept and keep it alive in an equal society. Where girls are grateful for a nice gesture and are willing to do the same for another human being, boy or girl.
The thread is usually in our head and when you feel strong enough to accept someone’s else help without feeling diminished. Then we have reach gender equality.
Vi ses snart,