It’s not like I wasn’t raised to know that I’m worthy of good treatment. My opinion is that all women (and men) are entitled to basic consideration and kindness. Of course, there are exceptions…but ultimately, those outliers don’t get treated with respect because they either (a) don’t treat others with respect or (b) don’t treat themselves with respect.
I’ve always prided myself on high standards, but I didn’t realize how low I had set my bar – until now. For some reason (a misguided love?), I had convinced myself to be satisfied with what I had settled with.
I was re-watching Mushi-shi, one of my favorite anime, with a male friend when I made a melancholy realization. In this episode called Where Sea Meets Man, Ginko meets a man who hopes to find his fiance, who was lost to the sea under strange circumstances. Depressed and ever-watchful for his fiance’s return, Shirou is left alone by the people of the local fisherman village. One day, he intervenes in a fish sale and encourages a local village woman to demand what she deserves.
Although he was talking about the price of fish, he might as well have been talking about the worth of self. In Life, people will take advantage of others, much like this poor girl was taken advantage of. But you should always ask for what you’re worth – and not settle for less.
Take my male friend and I for example. Our relationship began with challenges and even a test of wills, but we strove to treat each other with respect. Although our first date ended under unpleasant circumstances, our subsequent meetings were insightful and enjoyable experiences for me. Polite and chivalrous, he opens doors, pulls out chairs, compliments me, and insists on treating me to whatever I fancy.
This behavior contrasted with my first dates with my former boyfriend. I distinctly remember our first date being a late-night hijack of my car that ended in a spontaneous trip to McDonald’s. Although I had intended to spend my money on gas, I was coerced into buying food for him, as well as his tag-a-long friend. Then I was treated to a lecture on how unfair I was because I gave his friend a larger food allowance.
In that case, I pointed out that I was uncomfortable with the hungry friend watching one/both of us eat. I didn’t think that was a fair situation. Also, I pointed out that he didn’t offer to loan his own best friend the money for something on the Dollar Menu. (Keep in mind that neither of them ordered from the economical Dollar Menu. They each wanted Value Meals, which demolished my measly fuel funds.)
His response? “Of course I wasn’t going to pay for him. He should have brought his own money. But YOU didn’t have to offer him more food money than me,” he said.
From that point, a pattern started. On our next “date,” the same friend was invited. The same outcome – me reaching for my wallet – also occurred. By the time our relationship ended, I was accustomed to pulling my wallet out to pay for his groceries, household items and gas.
As an independent and self-sufficient woman, I don’t mind paying for my own food or splitting certain costs with others. Even with my current friend, I foot some bills – especially if I seek to express my appreciation. But I do expect the man who asks the woman on a date to cover the expenses. I guess I’m looking for an attempt to impress…I mean, if you’re trying to convince me to date you, then why wouldn’t you put your best foot forward?
As for the former opening car doors, I could probably count the number of times that has happened on one hand…
I felt as if Shirou was talking about me when he said,”You’re taking advantage of this poor girl. From now on, you can always ask for this much. Tell the others to do the same.”
Now that I know what a true gentleman’s actions are like, I can always ask for this much – if not more – from a man. And I will tell the others – you, even – to do the same.