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Gender Roles and Dining Out

Posted by gratrueities on October 17, 2008

There is an excellent article in today’s New York Times about gender roles when dining out; how women and men are treated differently by restaurants, wait staff and wine servers. The author, restaurant critic Frank Bruni, explores the question, should men and women be treated differently when dining out?

Apparently, some new restaurants are attempting to neutralize any gender-based treatment of diners by telling their wait staff to treat everyone the same, including not seating women first, not handing the menu to women first, not taking the woman’s order first, etc.

Maybe I’m old fashioned but I don’t think taking basic good manners out of the dining experience is going to help any restaurant. When we go out to eat, we expect the same basic manners and respect that we are accorded elsewhere. In fact, maybe the expectation is even higher at a restaurant, and maybe those expectations even rise further as the restaurant price range increases?

Here in San Francisco, most men still stop and let a woman enter a room first, most still open the door for a woman, most let a woman be seated first, etc. Even my 18-year old nephew knows these basic rules of common courtesy and uses them with women of all ages, even with his sister and his own high school peers.

When I dine out, I expect and I think others expect, an experience that is based on common etiquette. This is what we are tipping for, right?


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