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5 Small Gestures That Reveal Hints of Patriarchy in Our Society

Most noticeably at restaurants, servers -- both female and male -- always seem to drop the bill directly in front of my husband.
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I'm not saying America is a patriarchy, which would be to say that men have control of all aspects of our society. As women, we have certainly made strides (with many more to go) -- but I've recently noticed subtle gestures of old-fashioned male dominance lingering around today. Do you notice these, too?

1. He always gets the bill. Most noticeably at restaurants, servers -- both female and male -- always seem to drop the bill directly in front of my husband. I don't take offense, and I don't make a fuss of it, but I do feel bad that my husband has grown so used to picking up the tab when I'm just as capable. On the rare occasion when our server places the bill in the middle of the table, I always appreciate the equal opportunity to fight over the bill. Yes, we're married, so what's his is mine and vice versa, but the concept of treating one another will always remain important to me. While there's nothing wrong with a little chivalry, there's also nothing wrong with -- oh dear -- placing the bill in front of the woman.

2. Asking about his career is a given; asking about mine is a toss-up. I've noticed this when on double dates or meeting new people. One of the first questions my husband commonly gets is about what he does for a living -- in response to which he shares his favorite stories of serving in the Navy. Typically, this conversation ends here, and I'll just get second-hand questions about what it's like to be married to him. Less often, someone will choose to ask me the same question they just asked my husband: What do I do? It's so refreshing for me to share my own work, goals and passions. I think there's an assumption, especially with military spouses, that our entire focus is supporting our active duty partner. But we are so much more than "dependents."

3. He never gets a helping hand. This became more noticeable during our cross-country road trip, in which many stops of carrying luggage in and out of the car and through swinging hotel doors became the temporary norm for us. I could be carrying a purse and backpack, but would get princess treatment, with passersby holding doors open for my two measly bags. He could be carrying two suitcases, a backpack, and holding the dog on the leash, and he'd be more likely to navigate the door with a butt push than a helping hand. Again, nothing against the chivalry (which I adore that my husband maintains, in taking the bulk of our luggage), but it can be comical to note such ironic occasions when my husband could totally use a little "princess treatment" over me.

4. "You're having a boy? Congrats, they are so much easier than girls!" When we recently announced that we were having a baby boy, the news was often followed by celebratory congrats in the form of: "Boys are the best!" "Boys are so much better than girls!" "Boys are easier to raise; girls are trouble when they get older." I'm totally guilty of buying into these phrases -- we say them so often and so casually in society. But when you stop to think about the meaning behind this baby talk, it's obnoxious, isn't it?

5. Assuming the salad is for the lady. Another restaurant one. Whenever I order something that's more unhealthy than what my husband ordered (say he gets the salmon and I get the BBQ pulled pork), the runner always assumes I ordered the salmon. Nope, actually, I'm diving into that mound of BBQ! Yes, all 110 pounds of me. No, I don't need a to-go box, thanks. I'll never forget when I was at a sandwich shop, trying to copy my husband's order of a 12-inch sub, and I had to convince the employees that I was sure I wanted the large sub. Unlike him, I was asked repeatedly if I wanted the 12-inch sub or a smaller option. Ask me once for clarification, no big deal. Ask me repeatedly, and now it's obvious you're implying a girl can't eat!

What would you add to this list?

Photo Credit: Just B Photo

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