Last night, Donald Trump threw a hilarious joke: “I’m a gentleman.” We all laughed. Some people in the audience cheered. Yet, it felt so wrong because it was.
I think we can all agree that Donald Trump thought he was being a gentleman when he took a woman furniture shopping. I think we can all agree that his definition of gentlemanliness includes grabbing women by their pussies and move on them.
But, Donald Trump is not the only one claiming to be a gentleman. Every man is.
The inherent characteristic of gentlemanliness is sexist. It includes actions such as opening doors, pulling back chairs, paying for dinner and proposing marriage. In the traditional sense, being a gentleman is an acknowledgment of power, and that is a problem.
To Donald Trump being a gentleman includes letting Hillary Clinton answer questions first promulgating the sexist practice of “Ladies first.” It’s providing expensive gifts for women to be impressed by his success, instead of his brain (that would be difficult, though). It’s being a “macho” who is stronger, wealthier and more powerful than the woman, who is just expecting the man to provide for her.
And it’s this very practice that puts women on a pedestal, a crystal platform, where they are put by men to be “championed and revered”, just like Paul Ryan said in his statement earlier this week.
Let’s understand that being a “gentleman” is not a good thing. Instead, let’s teach young boys to respect women without expecting something in return. Let’s promulgate the concept of an ally, a friend, a partner. A comrade who can understand the oppression women are put under and can acknowledge his privilege to help end the war on women.
And while we are at it, let’s teach young girls that paying for dinner, holding doors and pulling back chairs is not only a man’s job. It’s an equal responsibility.