Are Good Manners in a Restaurant Sexy or Sexist?

Kim Conte
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The New York Times recently ran an article about how men and women are often treated differently in restaurants. For example, many restaurants give menus to women before men, serve women first, clear plates in front of women first—all in the name of good ol' fashioned chivalry.



But can this seemingly "proper etiquette" ever go too far? Does sexism ever masquerade as good manners at the dinner table?

As you can imagine, CafeMoms in the Cafe Group had PLENTY to say about the topic yesterday.

Most CafeMoms agreed that this type of treatment is not sexist. In fact, many like Nicole114 below, said  they would like to see more chivalrous behavior in general—not just at mealtime.


I don't think it's sexist. In fact, call me old-fashioned, but I think chivalry has gone out the window these days. You don't see men opening doors for women all the time anymore (sure some still do and kudos to them but you just don't see it as much anymore.) And I've noticed that it's the older men that do do it (of course.) I think small gestures like that are wonderful—not for them to do it for everyone else to see, but to show us that they care, and it's just a nice gesture.


Some moms like chivalrous treatment but only to an extent. They noticed that servers tend to assume that the male always pays and didn't want their husbands to order for them.


And some moms, like Kays_Mama06, said they prefer to take charge at the table:


I am usually the one that looks up first and greets the server. I also tend to do the ordering. I order for myself (I always go first...don't know if it's because I'm just that forward or because DH is letting the lady go first) and I even sometimes I order for DH when he wants it a certain way but doesn't want to be bothersome.


Special treatment is indeed harmless in certain cases. But when servers and restaurant professionals consistently assume certain things about women, stereotype them accordingly, and treat them in a way that differs for men, indigestion may just occur. For example, the article mentioned that women are sometimes treated as second-class citizens in restaurants because servers assume they eat less/spend less and stick around gabbing too long and take up their tables. So the very same restaurants that give menus to women first might also seat a group of women near the bathroom because they want to save the good tables for the high-rolling men.


How much special treatment is too much and where do we draw the line?

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