I’m old enough to remember when men tipped their hats as a lady walked by, offered their seats on a crowded bus, and did not curse in their presence. I’m also old enough to remember when things changed. The “new” woman didn’t want a man to hold a door open for her or remove his hat in her presence, because she was man’s equal.
Here in the UAE, time has stood still. In fact, it’s an extreme version of a woman’s role in the 1950’s USA. Everywhere I go, I am escorted or directed to the front of the line. I am not allowed to stand and wait for anything. One day I was waiting for a student in the lobby of a government office. After about 10 minutes, one of the male receptionists came over and asked if he could help me. He was very apologetic and a little upset with me that I had not come to him sooner so he could help me find my student.
The reverse side of this is the woman’s expectations. On another student visit, we were told that we could use a conference room for our meeting. When we entered the room, we saw that the table had been pushed up against the wall. Being an American “can do it all” woman, I immediately recruited the students (all women) to help me pull the table out so we could sit. They reluctantly helped, but we found that we couldn’t move it because one leg was crooked.
They then proceeded to call upon the men to move the table for them, which is what they would have done in the first place. It is interesting observing what they expect of men. While on a trip with about 20 female students, we walked through a doorway and a gentleman held the door for the first student. Their expectation was that he would stand there holding the door while all 20 students walked through… and he did.
I could get used to this treatment.