Last August, on a lazy Sunday, the boyfriend and I decided on brunch at Rollin’ to Go in Evanston. Being that the meal was on me, I pulled out my credit card and handed it to the cashier. He swiped it and, forgetting that I existed, gave it and the merchant receipt to my boyfriend, saying, “Could you sign for me here, sir?” Annoyed and surprised, I glared at the cashier, and ripped my credit card and the receipt out of bf’s hands. I then proceeded to sign, leaving the receipt on the counter. The cashier then asked bf, still not looking at me, “Do you need a receipt, sir?” I let out an “Are you kidding me?” that went unnoticed as the bf walked me to a table before I made a scene.
Six months later and I still bring it up. I’m not holding a grudge or anything, it was just so ridiculous that I still consider the possibility that he was just messing with me. Thanks to the remarkable women who fought for equality and justice between the sexes, women can vote, hold office, run companies and are now attending college in record numbers. But the battle can’t stop there. We have a whole society of fixed ideals and customs to sort out.
I honestly wish that this was an overreaction but, unfortunately, Rollin’ to Go is not the only perpetrator, and I’m not the only lady that has been glossed over because of my gender. I have friends who have gone out with boyfriends and guy friends, and have experienced similar situations at Chili’s, Dave’s Italian Kitchen and Buffalo Wild Wings.
I’m also not the first to notice. In 2008, the New York Times published an article about gender discrimination at high class restaurants, where the staff struggles to serve women first and usually heads straight to the men at the table when asking for the wine selection. The article doesn’t even mention where the bill is delivered, but I can only assume at places like this that it’s a given.
I don’t lament the death of chivalry. I don’t need a knight in shining armor. I’m more of a Lara Croft than a Guinevere, anyways. I can open my own doors. I still say thank you if someone holds a door open for me, but it no longer feels like a gender thing. I’m just as likely to hold a door open for someone else. It doesn’t have to be about chivalry. It can just be about being a nice and decent person, not a gentleman. I understand that changing an entire society’s way of thinking takes time, but we’ve got to keep working for it. Women pay for meals, gifts, the checks at restaurants and movies, but what’s the point of democratizing relationships if no one acknowledges that it’s happening?
Ladies and gentlemen, I understand if some of you still enjoy playing antiquated gender roles, but the times, they are a-changing. It’s our actions that will dictate the future of feminism and the way that our daughters will see their place in the world. Giving the check to the man at the table by default may seem trivial, but it’s a part of a larger issue that keeps our society lagging behind in the social equality game. It’s discrimination no matter how you slice it.
Furthermore, these way old fashioned ideals are preventing women and men alike from pursuing entrepreneurship. Gender stereotypes cause more harm than good in every sector. Some people fit them, some people partially fit them, and some just don’t. I hate the color pink, played games that involved sword fighting and/or light sabers with my brother as a kid, prefer a cheeseburger to a salad and can probably beat you at Mortal Kombat III. Then again, I also cry at sad movies and enjoy pretty skirts and dresses. So there you go.
Despite my experience last summer, we do seem to be on our way towards acknowledging this cultural shift. Last night at Kafein, our servers asked us who we should give the check to and, at Clarke’s, the check is usually placed in the middle of the table. Restaurant equality is on its way. Do our fair gentlemen mind? I sure hope not, because this kind of move is taking a lot of pressure off. My boyfriend, for instance, is very supportive: “I just want you to know that I like this whole feminism thing. You can pay whenever you want.”
Viva la revolución!