A male colleague invited me and my colleague to lunch. His treat. My female colleague was hesitant. She said she has to finish something. “We’ll wait for you”, I said. Downstairs at the cafeteria, she asked me “what to do? My feminism is struggling with it”. My response was “Life is generous and generosity has many forms. This is just one of them. It’s your choice whether to accept it with gratitude.” She liked the perspective and accepted it.
It was a terriffic lunch. We talked about food, places to visit when his family is in town and best places to take his family out for dinner. We exchanged our impressions from our trips to France. We responded to his generosity with our generous knowledge of local culture. It’s mutual. Always. Generosity attracts generosity.
What does feminism have to do with who pays for lunches anyway? In one of its many definitions, feminism fights for everyone’s freedom to pursue happiness. It is totally fine, if refusing a treat from a colleague based on your beliefs makes you happy. An offer to buy me lunch has never meant that I was perceived as unable to pay for myself or that any of my abilities were disregarded. Quite the opposite.
A feminist is someone who believes in equality between the genders, reads another definition. Feminism is also about generosity to me. Money saved from the lunch paid by our colleague goes to a lunch for a homeless or a less fortunate one. It’ s going beyound and above the bubble we place ourselves in for the sake of bellonging to a social structure. These bubbles are a bit of luxuries. Once a single mother of five living a poor but dignified life told me: “you may perhaps afford all this feminist talk. I cannot. I have five mouths to feed.” And she is right. A female begger will unlikely object to a treat from a male just because the two of them belong to different genders. Or she may refuse it and hope that her own gender would be as generous and would not do it out of superiority of any kind.
Generosity is gender blind and I sure hope it will stay that way.
Feminism stems originally from a struggle, an opposition, a fight. For the sake of wisdom, I would like to believe we are over it and feminist or feminine we are simply grateful and generous with each other in all of our human interactions.