Sunday, April 11, 2010

Teaching Swedish Men to be Gentlemen?

Yup, apparently there is such an evening here in Uppsala dedicated to just that.

The girls and their boys dress up in their fanciest and head out to a 3-course meal serenaded by a trio. The boy is expected to open doors, pull out chairs and treat their girl like a lady on this Gentlemen's evening.

Where I come from, or how I was raised, I'm always a lady. There need be no special evening of training. That training was instilled in my husband from an early age. Women don't pay. Doors are opened, chairs pulled out, flowers given...the works. I don't/didn't feel obliged to give up something precious in return. This kind of "lady treatment" was expected and is expected.

Well except after the butterflies die. Then it's me in sweatpants and no make-up, screaming at him to close the damn door when he goes for his constitutional. Or screaming at him for failing, yet again, to replace the toilet paper roll (as I sit there helplessly). Or screaming at him to "could you at least move your pile of dirty clothes from the end of the bed to oh, I don't know, let's say the LAUNDRY room?!"

But when we do get that rare opportunity to venture out in public, it's back to the basics of chivalry.

Chivalry is apparently dead in this country, except for on this one magical evening. And I do gotta give credit to whoever went this far to revive it. I've read dozens of articles on this very subject, some on the "the emasculation of Swedish men". I just can't wrap my head around all this "equality". Don't get me wrong, I'm all for: Paternity leave, equal pay for equal work, the sharing of domestic responsibilities, etc.

That said, I loathe:
- having a man walk through a door without at least leaving it open for me.
- Standing uncomfortably on a shaky bus while a man chillaxes in his comfy seat groovin' to his iPod.
- The thought of being single and having to pay for dinner on a date.
- Having to break out the Phillips screwdriver (which one is that again?)to fix a loose door hinge.
- Not getting jewelry, flowers, chocolates, purses, INSERT AWESOME GIFT.

Spare me: I realize some women see these gestures as "stripping away their independence". I respect that. Just like I respect your right to practice Scientology or put ketchup on your pizza or pray Sarah Palin (probably didn't even spell her name right) becomes the next President of the United States.

No, I am not about to put on my best housewife dress and apron, mix hubby a cocktail and gently remove his slippers while simultaneously handing him the evening paper after his long, hard day at the office. No, I am no Anna Anka, thank you very much.
But I want my dozen roses and I want to smell them too.


Mon said...

That's so weird, to have an evening for it.

I only like a very small dash of chivalry. Like opening a door for me or carrying a heavy box. Pulling my chair out would make me feel awkward.
But mostly I just like kindness and affection. Which are actually more of an effort than flowers and gifts, so harder to find in men!

Rebecca said...

You aren't missing anything. At least not from an American viewpoint. ;-) I seldom see men do that. With that being said, tho' - male or female around here, 9 times out of 10 people hold the door open. Which is just a nice thing, in general. But now when I see someone ahead of me not holding the door and I'm holding a box or something, I think about Sweden. haha!

SwedishJenn said...

@Mon: Yes,I must admit the unexpected kiss or help without asking for it, warms the heart. But my hubby is great at gift giving, puts me to shame. Regardless of what the gift is, it's always something that has some special meaning. Still waiting for him to throw his coat over a puddle though...ha!
@Rebecca. You can also think about Swedish men (in general, stereotypical terms) when you're trying to balance a baby and an armful of groceries and perhaps even suffering loudly. 9 times out of 10, they don't hear you no matter how close they are :-)

LostInTraslation...Literally said...

God jen, you never dissappoint.
we are lost sisters my friend!!
I completely agree wtih your most, 110%. seriously. I could'nt have said it better myself.

This is why I've been single since I've moved to sweden. I refuse to date swedish men, There are no gentlemen here, or at least, I have not met any!!
I'm a lady, although I don't sound like it( crazy antics lol) but, I do act like it.
and I NEED a gentlemen, not just any guy.

I think i will make a post about this as well( some time soon), because it's a subject that i like to discuss!! :D

btw. thank you for making me burst out laughing again... poor hubby hahahaha

septembermom said...

Call me a romantic, but I like a bit of chivalry once in a while. Not that I see much here in my house of 4 cavemen :)

Rebecca said...

One thing I learned about men long ago - regardless of their culture - if you allow it, they will treat you less than a Lady. So if they aren't going to be a basic gentlemen (ie; which equals "respect imo) then you don't need them. I'll trade not having a door held open for someone who shows respect where it matters, and who says what he means and means what he says.

@SwedishJenn: Wow...that would just be hard! I've seen like 10 year girls holding doors open for people with an armload of groceries. It's just kind of weird...haha! from what I know versus what I've read - lagom sure isn't being put into practical use over there ;-)

Mandi said...

Well said! As I am trying to raise two little men, my 5 year old INSISTS on holding doors open for people, sometimes people that are 5 in line behind us to get out of the daycare and there are kids running all over the place, there is he still holding the door as I am trying to persude him that it is OK to let someone behind you after you have held it for a while. Where have manners gone?! I too like being treated like a lady, granted I want my independence and am able to do things on my own (well most things, I still HATE to pump my own gas and will wait until hubby is driving to fill up my car) but it feels good to be treated nicely! Yay for flowers and diamonds :)

Anonymous said...

I notice that you don't dream of giving the minimum of consideration to your husband by not yelling at him for the slightest thing. (and you can change the toilet paper too). It isn't cute or funny when you are constantly on the receiving end. One of the basic reasons chivalry has died is because women expect to be treated like princesses only to give very little respect given back