"Don't feel like you owe someone because they do something nice for you."
A friend said this in the middle of our conversation over dinner. I had honestly never thought about this comment before but I thought it was so true. She started to elaborate by giving an example: If you're on a date and a guy buys you a meal, are you expected to give him something in return?
Is society telling us that we have to always get something in return, especially in a relationship? My friend said she believes that this is something really important for people, especially girls, to hear. I've heard many times when girls have been in relationships and have faced this dilemma. Why is there pressure for something to be given in return? What for? Can't a nice gesture be enough?
Although I agree that relationships that are supposed to be 50-50, is it really ok for relationships to feel pressure to reciprocate feelings or material things? When does it become acceptable or possibly unhealthy?
It then occurred to me that this feeling women have stemmed from a lack of respect from other people, especially men. This idea is relevant in the beginning stages of a relationship or even working as a female in a male-dominated field. It comes down to feeling like a woman needs to prove something in order for them to be seen as worthy or capable.
Another example involves a relationship between a male breadwinner and a female housewife. If the man is seen as the provider, why is it not as equally accepted when a woman runs the household and maintains a stable living environment for the rest of the family? If a male enters a female-dominated field, it is not as shameful for the male if he messes up because people don't question his inability to do something, but rather it's passed off as an accident. My other friend in engineering said that she feels this pressure every day to not mess up in front of her male and female peers because she knows that the attitude toward women in the field can be worsened if she makes a mistake. If she messes up, it's because she is "incapable", not because it was an accident. So, how do women win and command respect?
In order for women to command respect when it is not likely to be given, it's crucial that we not let our own morale sink. We should be proud to stand up for ourselves, rather than feeling like we've done something wrong. When we see other girls being disrespected or put down, we should try to show our encouragement and respect rather than staying silent.
Nevertheless, this isn't something a few people can solve by themselves. My question to you is, why do we let women feel this way? How can we change this?