According to most people, feminism has made me a raving, ranting, over-analytical, hyper-sensitive WOMAN. But I have thoroughly enjoyed filtering all my experiences through the philosophy of feminism and seeing how so much of our social behavior is shaped by expected gender roles. One of the most delightful pastimes which emerged from this was the Feminist Audit of Restaurants, which I started doing.
Basically, the Feminist Audit was about how the restaurant staff treated you and how this was influenced by what they expected from women. It was specially a lot of fun to do this when I was eating out with my husband (then my boyfriend/friend) and we had an understanding that each of us would pay alternately for the times we ate out. The times when the bills were handed over was hilarious. Here are some extreme cases :
1. One restaurant hands over the menu to my husband. Worse, whenever I order something (even a roti), the waiter looks at my husband for confirmation as to whether the order can really be taken (I am not overweight or obese, so I can safely say concern for my overeating was hardly the reason to seek this confirmation). Worse, he automatically handed the bill to my husband, and even after he saw me taking the bill, taking out my purse and paying for it, he handed the change back to my husband. Must have thought I was one crazy woman who could not even count the change.
2. At one super posh restaurant, I am overjoyed after the meal when the ‘bill’ is handed to me. I think that this waiter deserves a big tip, open it to find that its not a bill, but a suggestion form. Bill obviously goes to the male. (Btw, I get the thing about bill going to the male, but why should suggestion form come to the female. Are males not capable of having an opinion about restaurant experiences and stating this opinion).
Funnily enough these instances have always occurred only in big restaurants. When we are eating out on the roadside, bills are randomly given, I think based on whoever is standing/sitting more closely or whoever has made eye contact at that point of time.
Anyway, this is just about restaurants. I have found similar attitudes in lots of places. Railway ticket collectors who expect my husband to have the ticket and id, even thought its mostly me who carries it, doctors who, when trying to assess our situation want to know where my husband works, but does not consider asking me that question, travel agents who want details of my husbands bank account when I apply for some visa. It would be extremely irritating, were it not for the fact that the look on their face when the see the woman taking the lead in those situations is priceless. I hope to continue bashing many such social expectations. And to all my woman friends out there, break some more.