America’s Next Bill Clinton!


Chivalry is not dead, but it should be!
August 16, 2007, 12:57 pm
Filed under: chivalry, dates, dating, Feminism, feminists, gender roles, love, men, misogyny, relationships, women

Sitting in traffic this morning (sounds like an idea for a real good Fountains of Wayne song, huh?) I was browsing through the morning paper and saw a quite interesting story on “what women want.” Apparently, the number one desired goal out of their dates is, according to this writer who just crawled out from under a rock (think Encino Man), is chivalry.

You know exactly what chivalry means – it’s that crap of treating women like they’re fragile and princesses, as though they’re soft and nimble, and that without a man there to protect them, they would just fall of the face of the earth (because it is flat, you know) and die.

It is my assertion that while chivalry is not dead, it should be. In the end, for me, chivalry is nothing more than a means of treating women a certain way, to highlight the myth that they’re “different,” just to keep them down. Maybe that sounds a bit, oh, I don’t know, radical feministic of me, but it’s true.

To be sure, there are certain things that we ought to do for people, simply because we’re kind and cordial. But when those nice and cordial things are done for a person based on that person’s gender, I have a problem with it.

When we treat someone differently, based of their perceived abilities, it also makes sense that we make a statement of value to say that they lack the ability to do certain things, and that their “natural” environment is where they’d be most comfortable. In that, we also exclude them from certain environments in which they don’t traditionally belong. In this case, by treating women as soft and fragile, or as princesses and unable to “survive” in the public sphere without our “protective arms,” we downgrade their true human abilities to accomplish things.

Besides, it’s just freaking creepy. Why the hell would anyone want to kiss a woman’s hand as a way of greeting them? Why should I have to open a car door for a woman as if she’s not able to do it on her own?

The other day here at work, we had a big ceremony thing, and I was in charge of shaking hands and meeting people. A colonel ran up to me a few minutes into the ceremony, and said, “Sergeant, we need you to escort a young lady …” I was thinking, “What, she needs to go to the bathroom? How did you know I like …”

The next thing I knew, she was grabbing on to my arm and dragging me down the aisle to her seat. What the hell? Unless you’re missing three toes and can’t balance yourself to walk 30 feet, why the hell would you want to grab on to me just to get escorted?  Doesn’t it just show that you’re relying on me for the smallest of things? Why would you want to exemplify this in public? If you aren’t intimately involved with me, please do not grab on to my arms and drag me anywhere.

A few months ago, at the Young Feminist Leadership Conference in DC, I heard something amazing that stuck with me until this day. In addressing the women at the conference (who out numbered me by about 100 folds), Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation said this: “Never accept favors and privilege based on your gender. It might seem like you’re gaining from it at first, but in the end, scratch the surface, and you realize that it’s used as a way to, at a later time, keep you down.” I agree with her.

My point is this: chivalry is not dead, but it should be. If I had it in my power, I’d cut it off at the knees.

On the same note: what about paying when you’re out with the opposite sex? That’s the one bit of “chivalry” stuck in me that I still need to get rid of. While I love to pay, and always do, I feel guilty doing so, because I don’t want to send the message that perhaps such lady owes me something simply because I paid for dinner. She does not owe me anything.

In the end, besides physical interaction, we should be treating females as we would males. If a man is doing something for a woman that he wouldn’t otherwise do for another man, it’s chivalry, and it sucks.