Man! I feel like a woman.


When I lived in Seattle, I was very, very independent. I lived alone. I paid my bills. I assembled my own Target furniture. When I dropped off my car for a repair in Ballard, I walked the 3 ½ miles to work rather than call for a ride. It wasn’t that people weren’t willing to help – because I had amazing people in my life there – it was more of my own attitude, the attitude that had been modeled to me. The liberated, liberal upper left-hand corner of the nation requires a certain self-sufficiency.

Seattle taught me to take care of myself. Seattle expected me to take care of myself.

Let me tell you what I love about living in Nashville – chivalry is not dead. Men get the doors – front doors, car doors, office doors. If there is something heavy to be carried, a man won’t let a woman carry it – even if she is capable. When a girl needed a chair at 3 Crow Bar, Hunter jumped out of his seat to offer it up. When Julie, Mel, and I have needed various things hung on our walls, Josh and Paul have been at the ready. When the kitchen drawer broke and all of the pans crashed onto my foot (and I swore and maybe cried for a second), Seth told me that he would take care of it – and he fixed the drawer. IT WAS A MIRACLE!

Because I have never been taught to expect these kindnesses, every favor feels like a marvel. Even when I was walking on a sidewalk with a guy, and he switched places with me so I would be further from traffic, and I thought, “That’s ridiculous – if a car swerves, WE’RE BOTH DEAD – why the effort?” – still, there was a little part of my spirit that felt so appreciative.

In Seattle, the feminist culture taught me to never rely on a man, and how to stand on my own two feet – and I’m glad. I prefer to drive. I can order my own meal, thank you very much. I am well-practiced in balancing stacks of papers, groceries, books, and a tray of lattes, all the while teetering on high heels.

But Nashville is teaching me what it means to open up to those sweet souls who treat me with kindness, just because – just because I’m a woman, and just because they care. As a result, my hard, independent, feminist heart is softening, and growing, and more willing to receive.

But promise me – the moment I start singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” give me a swift punch in the throat.



  1. Greta on February 25, 2009 at 9:39 AM

    We must make it confusing for them. I expect to be treated with equal respect as the men in my life, and tend to assert an independent attitude– but I do SO love it when they pull out my chair. Or walk on the street side of the sidewalk. Or open the door. Once, I was with my mom and sister walking towards double doors, and no one knew what to do– we all bumbled through them at once. So I suppose Northwest men are still handling the doors often enough to confuse women when the men-folk aren’t around.

    Still– the other night I was at a party, and there weren’t enough seats, so some of us had to sit on the floor. On the couches? All men. On the floor? All women. AND, one of the girls was constantly running back and forth to the kitchen fetching treats. If we’re fetching treats, we should certainly get the couch, I think!

  2. dhurstlmt on February 25, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    As a man who is still trying to cling to the chivalrous inclinations of his youth, I appreciate your post. Few things will kill such inclinations quicker than feminist push-back. I don’t need the kindness returned, I don’t even need it to be appreciated. Just having a woman receive the kindness is enough for me. Thank you for receiving the kindness from those men around you. It does my soul good.

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  4. Deborah Barnett on February 25, 2009 at 10:47 AM

    Born & raised in Los Angeles, I too sported a determined-independence-don’t-you-dare-think-I’m-weak kind of attitude when first migrating south. After being here for a couple of years, my mom mentioned that I somehow “seemed softer”, more “feminine”.

    And I actually took it as a compliment. Who knew?

  5. hootenannie on February 25, 2009 at 10:49 AM

    Yes! Debbie, AMEN, I totally understand. I would take that as a compliment, too.

  6. Isabella on February 25, 2009 at 2:14 PM

    I really like this post, Annie – and it’s so true. I grew up here, very accustomed to the chivalry. When I moved to Northern California for one year when I was 25, it was like a slap in the face (literally – the doors that people didn’t hold open when I expected them to!). I am an independent single woman, too, but I still love the kindess of our people here in Nashville.

  7. Tad on February 25, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    I think singing “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” is more punnishable by “Sucker-Punch” myself.

    I too feel really put down when I go out of the way to be nice and a woman rejects the courtesy; and really good when I can do something nice for someone and they recieve it with a smile or a “thank you”. I think getting doors, giving up seats, offering to carry a load is more than just Chivalry, I think it’s also part of our call to serve one another. I can’t be always handing out money, or builinding a house, or serving meals. But when I can’t do those things, I CAN go out of my way to be kind.

    You are so right though, a little more Chivalry would go a long way here in the NW. I don’t believe that NW women are so shallow-minded that they can’t tell the difference between a man being nice and a man stepping on their independence. And even if they can’t, it doesn’t change the fact that men should be Chivalrous anyway.

  8. Matt on February 25, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    Hmmmmmm. Don’t know what to think about this actually. Having grown up in an area where most men do all of those considerate things you mentioned, and now living in the NW, I can’t say that I’ve noticed a huge difference. I’d probably see it differently if I was woman though, and the East side of WA has a more Midwestern feel too. This isn’t true in my family, but growing up I did see a LOT of women in the MW who were incredibly d

  9. Matt on February 25, 2009 at 3:13 PM

    . . . dependent on their men. I’m talking never knew anything about the finances, never had significant input on church issues, NEVER drove, etc. I open doors and do all of that stuff, but if I had to pick between being too independent or being too dependent it would be an easy choice. I guess I don’t understand how grace and independence relate to each other either. Now you’ve got me thinking. Hmmmmmm.

  10. hootenannie on February 25, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    Hold it – this is in no way a “bash the men of the Northwest” post. Like I said, it was much more about MY attitude when I lived in Seattle.

    I am still very much independent. I don’t think that moving further South has changed my expectations for what I think a man should act like, or what I “deserve.” I’m just saying that being surrounded by some really good men – ones who make me feel taken care of even when I don’t ask for it – has made me more receptive to chivalry.

    And as a single girl, without a “go-to” guy like a husband or a boyfriend, it sure is nice to have a man act kindly, just BECAUSE.

    I appreciate it.

    And that’s all I’m saying.

  11. Matt on February 25, 2009 at 3:42 PM

    Lol. I just sent you a FB message saying please disregard that comment! I couldn’t figure out how to edit/delete. This is why I shouldn’t try to leave comments during school hours.

  12. Emily from Seattle on February 25, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    I’m really independent, to the point where I’m probably one of those girls that make guys feel bad because I don’t really want or need their help. I’m not rude…I just generally don’t accept assistance that I don’t actually need. That part of me came about to prove a point more than it did out of necessity. I was pretty quiet and meek growing up, and people treated me like I was breakable and did things for me because they didn’t think I could. Some of it was about gender; the was a lot of inequality in that respect at my first job, and I just wanted people to see I could do everything a guy could do. I’m definitely proud of my independence, but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to let people do more things for me. Next time a seat if offered to me on the bus, I think I’ll take it. :)

  13. Tad on February 25, 2009 at 4:29 PM

    I think it’s important to note that when guys do things like pull out chairs, carry heavy loads, open doors, walk on the street side of the sidewalk, it’s not intended to imply that women are in anyway unequal to the task or fragile in any way. It’s one of our ways of saying that we value you and we want to honor you by performing those tasks so you don’t have to, or to honor you by making you feel special. We aren’t pulling a chair out for everyone, we’re pulling it out for YOU.

    That’s what I love so much about truly independent women, I know they can look after themselves so I don’t have to worry, but they also are secure enough to see those little things as me being nice and not me treating them like a china doll.

    Wow Annie! You really got a discussion going. It makes me happy to hear that little kind gestures do not go unnoticed/unappreciated.

  14. Dani on February 25, 2009 at 6:31 PM

    This post made me laugh – only because I SO feel you. I grew up in the Northwest, on a cattle ranch of all places, so I was reared on the necessity of toughness. Then I went to and married a Texan who as never once NOT opened my door, and I am soaking it up.

    I completely agree with you – I’m totally appreciative of my “can-do” attitude (just a little resume word in there to keep me sharp – always on the job-hunt, you know) but I also relish the knowledge there are men who are comfortable enough as such to offer their respect and protection to us ladies, even if we are “fully capable”.

  15. Annie on February 25, 2009 at 9:42 PM

    I love it when guys are gentlemen! I remember going on a walk a year ago, and how blessed I was that an old man lifted his hat to me as we walked past each other.

    I was just praying with a bunch of women yesterday and marveling at how women were created to be taken care of, and men thrive on being providers. It’s amazing the way God designed it, but the world has made it hard for a woman to be able to know how significant she is, even in weakness, and even in letting someone take care of her.

  16. annie on February 25, 2009 at 10:07 PM

    Great post. That’s all I have to say!

  17. Isabella on February 26, 2009 at 10:05 AM

    I just wanted to clarify my comment above because I didn’t intend to bash the men (or women) of N.Cal. It was definitely an adjustment for me, but my year there taught me so many positive things about professionalism, independence, etc. There are positive and negative things about any culture, but I’m glad that I’ve lived in various places to make me a more balanced person. That’s it…thanks Annie for making us really think about this :)

  18. Megan on February 26, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    Annie! I haven’t commented before, but read your blog pretty regularly. I just thought I’d say that is exactly what I loved about living in Alabama last year. My first memory of Huntsville was a woman offering to hold my screaming baby to help me out while I was in Target…what?! That kind of friendliness/neighborliness just doesn’t happen that often in Seattle or Colorado! I was definitely surprised by her willingness to help me. It’s interesting how you and I have had similar living experiences…Montrose, Seattle and the south. I do miss it there!

  19. Joey on March 5, 2009 at 6:48 PM

    This is why I’m always confused on the bus. Who do I offend? The women who are mad because I didn’t get up or the women who are mad because I offered to get up?

    How do you reconcile equality and equal pay with getting the bus seat?

    I’ve actually spent a lot of time trying to figure out this whole thing out, especially as I’ve been studying feminism more. In theory, I’ve reconciled my worlds by taking seriously Christianity, which declares me a servant to everyone.

    Then, I elevate people because of their inherent value as a part of Creation, and not because of gender roles.

    Three of the fundamental questions of our generation.
    1) How are we supposed to be men?
    2) How are we supposed to be women?
    3) How do we live together?

    I’d kind of like to continue this conversation.

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