Hector sends an essay from the same New York Times blog as yesterday’s Mommy Meanest post; this one has a feminist mommy complaining that she doesn’t want her little boy to learn to be a “gentleman.” It all started when Lynn Messina’s son’s preschool teacher taught the boys to let the girls go to the bathroom first. Look at this:
I don’t think it’s an overreaction to resent the fact that your son is being given an extra set of rules to follow simply because he’s a boy. His behavior, already constrained by a series of societal norms, now has additional restrictions. Worse than that, he’s actively being taught to treat girls differently, something I thought we all agreed to stop doing, like, three decades ago. That the concept of selective privilege has been introduced in preschool of all places — the inner sanctum of fair play, the high temple of taking turns — is mind-boggling to me. How can you preach the ethos of sharing at the dramatic play center and ignore it 20 feet away at the toilet?
Yet as much as this double standard offends me as a mom, it’s nothing compared with how much it infuriates me as a feminist. Forty years after the tender, sweet, young thing in “Free to Be You and Me” gets eaten by a pack of hungry tigers after asserting that ladies should go first, we are still insisting on empty courtesies that instill in women a sense of entitlement for meaningless things. Many women see gallantry as one of the benefits of their sex; I see it as one of its consolations.
Letting girls use the bathroom first isn’t a show of respect. It is, rather, the first brick in the super high pedestal that allows men to exalt women out of sight. A true show of respect is paying us equally for the same work, not 77 cents on the dollar, which is the current average. That’s the world I want my son to live in and I seriously doubt it will ever happen as long as women believe men should hold the door open for them.
What a miserable person. And lest you think these people don’t exist, we encountered them a decade ago when we lived in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, which is almost but not quite as SWPLstannish as Park Slope. My wife was on a neighborhood playground with our son, who was two, and she encouraged him to let the little girl standing next to him go up the slide ahead of him.
“Ladies first,” she said to little Matthew. The girl’s mommy scowled at her.
Lynn Messina, you will not be surprised to learn, is a New Yorker.
Hilariously, Lynn Messina is aggrieved by childhood manners for the opposite reason as her counterpart in feminist miserabilism, Catherine “Mommy Meanest” Newman, whose hair caught on fire because people were teaching her little girl to be nice, therefore (to Newman) a doormat. Of her son’s instruction in basic gentlemanliness, Messina writes: “the real tragedy is that these girls aren’t being taught the fine art of yielding to others.”
Wait, what? No matter what you do, feminists of this sort are going to be miserable. Me, I just watched my nine-year-old son hold elevators and doors for women as we moved around New Orleans. He held them for men too. He considers it the gentlemanly thing to do, putting others first. So do I. He’s a good boy. And a happy one. Reading these two New York Times pieces by the feminist mommies make me think that for all our failings, and they are significant, it is often a joy to live in the South.
UPDATE: OK, some of you nailed me, and I deserved it. It is unfair of me to smear the entire region because of the actions of a few. I get ticked off when people do this to the South, and it is wrong for me to engage in it against the North. I apologize. Thanks for correcting me.