The contradictions of the modern world throw us some interesting dilemmas, not the least of the question for men of whether to be a Feminist or a Gentleman.
I have a client who was brought up by a feminist mother. He was taught it is right to treat women equally, that women can look after themselves, that they should be respected, that men and women should carry the same load.
His partner is a powerful career woman. She works in a big company. She is very successful in her field and heads a large team.
Yet his partner loves to be treated like a lady. She loves having doors opened, him taking the seat out, him taking her hand as they walk across the road. It makes her feel loved and it makes her feel feminine.
My client and I had a long conversation about this very issue – because he finds it hard, and he finds it confusing. He was told to treat women equally, he was told that power should be shared, that being a gentleman was pretty much equivalent to being a male chauvinist pig – implying that it was the man in control, and reinforcing traditional and staid stereotypes. His values push him one way, while he feels that his partner pushes him in the opposite direction.
To him it seemed hypocritical, that a woman wanted to be treated equally, to have all the power of a man, but yet retain the old trappings of being a feminine woman. Can you have equal rights while still pining for traditional roles? In fact while pretty much demanding adherence traditional roles?
I reminded him of how some of the most successful religions of the world have embraced the new while retaining the old – Christianity kept many if not most pagan festivals and just stuck a new coat of paint over them – and maybe to be really successful it helps for feminism to do the same?
It took a while for him to get his head around the seeming hypocrisy of the situation, but now he is happier for it. And really who of us are really consistent to our beliefs all the time? I know that I believe it is crucial we reduce carbon pollution, but still get a huge buzz out of hitting the accelerator hard on the open road. Perhaps a bit of hypocrisy is human – now his partner feels more feminine and loved, he feels more like a man, and they both still share the cooking.