Chivalry: an archaic notion

By 17:14

A feminist friend once said, “Chivalry is an archaic notion. You can’t ask to be treated as equals but expect chivalrous behaviour.”

I, like most women today, fondly think of chivalry as sweet little romantic gestures that make us feel like we’re thoughtfully taken care of like having a door held open, offering to drive or carrying our heavy bags.
Traditionally, chivalry was a man’s show of respect for the weaker sex by showing that he can physically take care of her. This could range from pulling out a lady’s chair to fighting for her honour. In return, women paid back the chivalry by lovingly cooking a meal for him and keeping the house clean.
When women realised that they could do more than just what society dictated their gender roles to be, feminism was born. The very core of feminism is based on the ideology that gender roles constructed by society are sexist and unjust and should be done away with, allowing women to have the same rights as men and for both genders to be treated equally.
By definition, feminism and chivalry are on the opposite ends of a coin. You can’t ask for chivalrous behaviour when you believe that women should be treated exactly like men. Chivalry treats women better than men.
Every woman balances her views of chivalry and feminism on different scales:
  • There’s the extreme feminist who believes that she can pay her own way and open her doors. Any chivalrous offer is often seen as an insult to her capabilities.
  • Little Miss Princess, on the other hand, is used to being treated like a porcelain doll. She expects all the chivalry that’s on offer.
  • And then there are the nonchalant girls who believe that chivalry does not have to be sacrificed for gender equality. They welcome and appreciate chivalrous gestures while at the same time demanding equal treatment. These women generally demand equality (and chivalry) when it’s convenient for them.
I am one of the nonchalant girls. It makes me weak at the knees to have a chivalrous man around to stop and help me change my tyre if they see me struggling to do it. I will think less of him if he refuses to help when I’ve asked for it. At the same time, I value having the option to climb all the way up the corporate ladder and challenge the old boys. A classic example of a woman who wants it all at her convenience: the kind man to help with manual labour and the opportunity to kick ass in a high powered work environment.  
Chivalry isn’t a natural behaviour for all men. It’s learned from parents, culture and environment. Some cultures teach chivalry to little boys which then become second nature to them. In other cultures chivalry as we know it doesn’t exist which doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t honour women. Even if all men learn chivalry, it is up to each man to be as chivalrous as he chooses and up to each woman to determine the level of chivalry she chooses to appreciate.
Ultimately, men and women were created differently - physically and psychological - with different needs. While I understand that gender roles were historically unfairly dictated by societal traditions, there are certain biological roles that are better suited based on these differences. Chivalry doesn’t have to contradict gender equality. Perhaps we need to introduce some equality within chivalry. If chivalry is just good manners then it shouldn’t be one sided. If you expect a man to pull out your chair, then you need to also be prepared to show some thoughtfulness to him in whatever way you chose. If women aren’t prepared to embrace that idea, then perhaps chivalry is an outdated practice that doesn’t have a place in today’s world.

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2 comments

  1. Chivalry really isn't something special. It's just the tendency to be less of an ass for a beautiful woman. This is how i (try to) do things:
    http://i.imgur.com/lYVtU.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  2. What if she's ugly? lol

    ReplyDelete