Many moons ago, in the great city of Chicago, I stood in line with other members of my 3rd grade class. Outfitted in a god-awful uniform comprised of a red shirt, blue clip-on tie with little American flags, dark blue pants, and black “church shoes”, I waited in line at the only outdoor water fountain after recess with about 30 other kids. (Super relevant: we had to change back in to our uniforms with “church shoes” after recess before entering the building, or Jesus would get all worked up about it.)
The “exceptional student of the week” umpteen times in a row was Brad Richie (I used his real name because it’s just too perfect). Brad was in charge of making sure the line moved quickly at the water fountain after recess, so he’d stand there with his finger on the button and his nose three inches from your ear counting “One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, STOP!”
But any time a pretty GIRL mounted the stepstool to reach the fountain, Brad changed his method of counting. It went something like this:
“Oneeeeeee Miss…issss…ippi . . .[long drawn out breath] Twooooooo Miss…issss…ippi . . . [long drawn out breath] Threeee . . . etc.”
My first encounter with White Knighting was Brad Richie.
Clearly I was a little behind Brad in my development, because I didn’t even notice girls at the time. I honestly had no idea they were getting preferential treatment by Brad simply because he thought they were cute. In my young mind, there were just “some kids” being treated better than “other kids.”
I was always too smart and persuasive to do my own dirty work, so I enlisted the slow kid to go to the teacher and blow the whistle on Brad’s gross mismanagement of authority. The response from our chick teacher was exactly what you might expect:
“Don’t tattle-tale on your classmates. Brad is just being a gentleman.”
Deep inside my 3rd grade brain, I started to ponder. Gentleman. Hmmm… Gentleman… Let’s think about this for a moment; a gentleman is what I’m supposed to be to my mother and my sisters… Wait a minute! My mother and my sisters are GIRLS! Is Brad letting them drink from the fountain twice as long as the rest of us because they’re GIRLS?
Nah, that’s just silly. Those girls are not his sisters or his mother, and girls are shit soccer players who don’t think farts are funny. They’re ok, but no boy in his right mind would go out of his way to be extra nice to them, so I must be way off base here. Or am I? I don’t know. I’m confused.
But there was still injustice taking place in the water fountain line, so I decided to put an end to it. Knowing I’d never be “exceptional student of the week”, I came up with an alternate plan of attack. I wrote up a little flyer in not-so-secret secret code, snuck in to the teacher’s lounge during an impromptu bathroom break to make copies of it, assembled all the guys on the soccer field during recess, and unleashed my plan.
After recess, when once again the line for the water fountain was stretching half-way back to the monkey bars, all the boys waited patiently for the first little girl to reach the fountain. When she did, all of us lifted our voices in unison and said:
“ONE MISSISSIPPI, TWO MISSISSIPPI, THREE MISSISSIPPI, STOP!”
Thus was the end of Brad Richie’s beta supplication at the water fountain. We only had to do it two or three times for him to get the picture – and it was worth every demerit I received for unruly behavior plus the paddling in front of the entire class for sneaking in to the teacher’s lounge to make copies. Brad ratted me out after launching a full scale investigation and bribing the slow kid with seedless grapes (you can’t make this shit up.)
After that incident, most of the little girls started treating me differently, and the Queen Bee of the bunch took action. To this day, I still remember her walking up to me and calling me a “meanie jerk” who wanted “girls to be thirsty all day” because I wasn’t a “gentleman.”
I remember that conversation clearly even though it was decades ago, because I got yet another paddling for calling her a “booger-john”, but she didn’t get in trouble at all for calling me a “meanie jerk”. Don’t ask me where the term booger-john came from or what it meant, but I picked it up from my cousins in South Carolina. All I know is that my first encounter with unequal consequences based on gender came at the hands of my 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Bethany Auclair.
Mentu’s Sixth Law of Dickatry: Women will gladly embrace gender inequality when it yields preferential outcomes. This is why no man should ever take their bullshit demands seriously.
At first I didn’t really understand her hostility, because my actions were completely aimed at Brad, not the girls. My intention was never to have the girls receive less water – I just wanted Brad to stick with the program. Had we all benefitted from the long drawn-out version of the counting, I would have never said a word.
The water fountain incident was a long time ago, and the stakes are much higher today. From the White Knighting and female privilege found in an ultra-conservative Christian elementary school to the White Knighting and female privilege found in today’s society, it’s up to me and you to rectify the situation. We might not be able to change the world, but damn it, we can at least change the environment around the one little fountain we drink from.
Every sexual encounter I have with women, every relationship I’m in, every business meeting I have with my female staff, and every post I drop centers around one goal: True equality. Game levels the playing field in the SMP, my unending commitment to holding my female staff members to the same standards of excellence as the men levels the playing field at work (which a small handful of women actually appreciate), and my willingness to nuke hamsters and put a stop to beta and princess bullshit before it even get started keeps my social life on the level.
Of course, true equality sounds a lot like “ONE MISSISSIPPI, TWO MISSISSIPPI, THREE MISSISSIPPI, STOP!” so the majority of women aren’t very fond of it.