The inequality in Gender Equality: A simply case of “Ladies First”

Gender inequality is as old as time itself and although great effort has been exerted over the decades to end, or at least minimize it, there exists subtle nuances that underscore its presence. I don’t want to go in-depth in to the literature of gender bias, quite frankly I haven’t got the time and plus I believe I can still make a compelling case even without literal back up. There are certain social conventions that have been ingrained in the minds of people which are supposed to engender equality among the sexes, but sometimes the very nature of them makes you wonder if their purpose is in tandem with intrinsic meaning.

Some might argue that gender equality has been greatly diminished and that we currently live in a society of greater freedom for women. On the surface of it, it might appear so because we see more women in the workforce, more women in leadership roles, for one thing; women in America at least can now vote. From an aerial view all seems to be at place, but the truth is that much like other problems that challenges the human race, gender inequality has evolved alongside the species. This evolution has also meant that the way it is perpetuated has also evolved as well, that its current state of sophistication makes it that much harder to detect.

There is a phrase that is very pervasive in human social interaction, especially interactions involving both sexes. This phase is seen as sign of respect and decorum that is “ought” to be accorded by one sex to the other. That phrase is “Ladies First.”

I have often said this phrase without giving it much thought, because like I said it is what is expected of you as a respectable member of any civil society where people have mutual respect for each other. Recently though I was somewhat accosted for not obliging with the usual “Ladies First” when I was at a door.

This got me thinking, when men say “Ladies first” to a lady is it because they see her as an equal (hence gender equality) or do they see her as a lesser being that needs to be given an advantage to progress for fear of being trumped? Men are naturally very competitive animals and when you want him to see another creature as an equal in competition, it doesn’t help to make him give that “competitor” an advantage. This is because then you have made him to see that creature as obviously being weak in some regard therefore needing to be given support to come to par with him in competition. It is very easy to say “Ladies First”, but then it is hard to see beneath the surface to catch a glimpse of what is really happening.

My hope isn’t to come-off as chauvinistic or anything of that nature, but I just would like people to think carefully about certain social conventions and see if they truly mean what they stand for. As an educated individual your number one priority is to challenge statics or dogmas as they come your way. The aim isn’t to win arguments or shove agendas in peoples face, on the contrary I would like to be intelligently challenged in ways that would give me a better understanding and if possible change my own views in some way.

(This is one of the things I was most scared of doing, writing a piece that might come off chauvinistic Frightening )


About Talka NG

My brain is all over the place, help me put the pieces back together.

Posted on November 18, 2013, in Blogging, Culture, Current Events, Education, life, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Ladies first to me is a loaded phrase. I am happy to walk through a door someone else holds open for me, but I’d rather they did this without using that particular phrase. Incidentally, when I was in high school everyone had a continuation to that phrase that persuaded me of its ingrained bias “Ladies first, sl*ts last.” Never could stomach the “ladies first” thing after that.

    • Omaliko's Thoughts

      lol…this is the first time I am hearing the second part “Ladies first, sl*ts last”, its funny but sad at the same time. I understand your disdain for it. I just wish women would not have to wait for guys to make sure gestures, it enforces that stereotype in his mind that you are less than him in someway. And then those women who demand it, thinking it makes them more powerful (It doesn’t). Some might say its “gentleman-ly” but really…..

      • Men are also conditioned to open doors for women as being “well-mannered,” but I agree that it does perpetuate gender stereotypes. Generally, I tend to open doors for others if I reach them first and I’m ok with others doing the same in similar circumstances, whatever their gender. But if someone makes a point of opening a door for me because I am a “lady” then I tend to very politely invite them to go through the door first 🙂

  2. Woman’s point of view, well, at least, this woman…
    I feel like it is the man respecting me as a person, in this man’s world. Men, after all, get higher pay for the same job (or so I am told), men talk with men about man things, some things aren’t meant for a woman’s ears (or so I am told), or that the man wants to simply enjoy my company and treats me special. I like feeling special.

    • Omaliko's Thoughts

      Like vicbriggs said its a loaded phrase I guess, you can decided to take the part which you would rather prefer…Thank you for reading and commenting, means a lot to me.

  3. First, I’d like to say that this is a very well thought out post, I don’t see how anyone could take it as chauvinistic, but you never know. Like many phrases and idealism’s that began one way, “Ladies first” has, unfortunately, grown too many hydra heads. What was once a simple, thoughtful and considerate nod toward the ‘gentler’ sex, has now been over-analyzed and reborn into whatever people want it to mean to them, on a personal level.

    (I’ve never heard the second part to that saying, either, Vic… I can understand your complete distaste for it).

    When I hear “Ladies First,” it conjures a time when most men were still raised to be the ‘protectors’ over women, children and elders, as they are not as physically strong as men. That’s simple, factual anatomy nine times out of ten and has nothing to do with the amazing inner-strength of all human beings no matter their gender or age. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with the phrase nor with the idea of men feeling a little protective over those they may view as important enough to protect. On the rare occasion that I do hear this, as a gentlemen is holding a door open for me, I smile sincerely and thank him – and that is probably the only outcome he was ever hoping for. These days, possibly not even that much.

    Or, you know, he could just want a look at your a*s – and if you really minded, you wouldn’t worry so much about it looking appealing. Just sayin’.

    • Omaliko's Thoughts

      Thank you so much for your comment….I am happy to see that the female responses I have got so far are reasonable and not hostile as I expected. Once again thanks to you and everyone else who commented.

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