I was a sophomore in college when I was familiarized with the bells and whistles surrounding the concept of feminism.
Until then, I ignorantly believed the only thing that defined the concept was women having the same rights as men.
Sociology courses, feminist professors eager to recruit young women to solidarize with the cause, and progressive thinking friends, all served to reaffirm that there was much more to it than that.
At the time, I was working part-time and studying full-time.
Being able to manage this busy lifestyle successfully provided me with a sense of empowerment.
And for the first time in my life, I felt self-sufficient.
No longer was it necessary for daddy to cover my expenses or for boyfriends to pay for dinner.
I felt powerful, strong, on top of the world.
Supporting feminists’ views seemed the right thing to do.
After all, they went so well with my new quasi-independent state.
Every day I would come home and rant and rave on Gloria Steinem, the exploitation of women, and why Hugh Hefner was the Devil incarnate.
I judged and condemned women who depended on men for their livelihood; my mother included.
At the time, I saw her as a pampered housewife who’d never worked a day in her life and who relied on my grandmother to act as a governess.
My mother quickly turned into everything I despised in women who didn’t fend for themselves.
She was needy, powerless, and complacent.
Fortunately, time and life’s experiences taught me that not everything was black and white and that this was also true of feminism.
This morning, I was reminded of why my views changed.
When I boarded the bus, I realized the only four seats left were reserved for the elderly, handicapped, or women with children.
Hence, I grabbed a handle and braced myself.
When we reached the next stop, I noticed a man in his mid sixties rushing ahead of a group of four women.
Their ages ranged in the early to late seventies.
The man quickly sat down on one of the four seats and as a result, one of the women was left standing.
Unfortunately, she did not plant her feet firmly and the moment the bus took off, she lost her balance and fell.
I was standing a few feet from her and rushed to help, noticing as I did so, that no one else had moved.
It was as if they were under the spell of the bystander effect and believed it wasn’t their duty to assist; that someone else should do it.
Fortunately, a lady standing next to me awoke from her trance like state and between the two of us, we managed to lift the elderly woman.
The bus driver, who was in the middle of crossing an intersection when the accident happened, quickly pulled over to ask if the lady was okay.
She weakly informed him that she was and we continued our trajectory.
Throughout the incident, the middle-aged man remained motionless.
He looked straight ahead; oblivious to what had transpired.
For a second, I felt an emotion I rarely feel: disgust.
After all, if he hadn’t rushed ahead, the lady would’ve been able to sit down.
Needless to say, I was fuming at his action, or rather, inaction.
When I returned home, I narrated the incident to the Significant Other.
His reply was that given women have fought arduously to secure equality, men don’t feel they have to go out of their way to accommodate women’s needs.
After all, the reality was that both genders have the same right to a seat on the bus.
However, I disagree.
And I do so because I believe feminism has nothing to do with a man being courteous, kind, or chivalrous.
My nana would say that chivalry is dead.
Many men, and notice how I write many and not all, have sadly forgotten what it’s like to be chivalrous; to be a gentleman.
And for all my wannabe feminist attitude, I miss the Don Quixote of yesteryear.
I yearn for the days when men opened doors, pulled out chairs, and stood when a woman entered or left a room.
I miss the days when a “dropped” handkerchief was quickly retrieved and returned to a lady.
I miss the days when women went first; when women were considered the fairer sex.
I wish for the days when men steadied you, steered you by the elbow, and held out their hand to help you take a step up or down.
Today’s accident angered me because women having equal pay, status, and importance have nothing to do with men being well mannered, considerate, and empathic.
However, a part of me wonders if men have gotten lazy at exercising the art of chivalry, or if we’ve stifled it with our demands.
I cringe as I think of the many times I’ve become indignant when the Significant Other has offered to help; to open a jar.
Ladies, have we huffed and puffed so much that men no longer feel they have to go out of their way to show us consideration?
Or on the contrary, have men conveniently taken advantage of our desire to roar alongside them as an excuse to be indifferent?
What say you, sisters?
I’m interested in your thoughts.