Social Commentary

Courtesy, Chivalry, Chauvinism

Last week I read this post and found it difficult to understand the argument. Now, I’m not a hater of gender roles, I think some are okay – especially in a family setting –  I don’t hate chivalry either, as time has gone on, I’ve cared less & less about it, however I do think it’s flawed.

Chivalry: Let me get that for you because I am a man and I am physically stronger than you.

The issue with chivalry is that it is biased. Originally chivalry was about Knighthood & wars & horses, then Christianity came & was like it’s also about Knights being kind to the weaker members of society. Then somewhere along the line, men stopped being real Knights and were just men but chivalry didn’t stop being a thing & evolved again to men throwing coats over puddles for women, opening doors for women, carrying stuff for women, etc. I’m not quite sure when it changed from a Kinght/weaker members of society relationship, to a man/woman relationship. The bias comes in the fact that men are expected/taught/obliged to help women (the physically weaker sex) with opening doors, carrying things, etc. They are not obliged to help physically weaker men, women are not obliged to help physically weaker women. It goes further that I’ve seen women get upset because an able, and very capable woman helped them to do something that a man didn’t help them to do. The job still got done, though.

Chivalry isn’t just about physically strength, it’s also about financial strength. Back in the day when women weren’t working, and women were sol-, I mean given, in marriage, men had the financial upper hand so understandably they’d pay for everything. There was no dating in these times. However, as times have moved on and women have started working, and dating has become something, chivalry has manifested itself in the form of men paying on dates. And you know what, I understand the reasoning behind this. Some men want to show they can hold things down financially, they feel it’s their responsibility to treat their woman. I’m one of those that believe whoever does the asking out, should pay. Sometimes I ask out guys, so sometimes I pay. I like to treat my friends/boyfriends & make them feel like they don’t always have to do certain things, like paying on dates, to validate themselves to me.

Paying for a £30 meal proves nothing to me, although it may be a nice treat.

Chauvinism: Let me get that for you because I am a man and I am physically stronger than you. No you cannot decline or else my ego will explode.

I learnt about chauvinism from a man, before I identified or wanted to identify with feminism. It was one day after church, a male friend of mine held a door open for me, I told him to go through (there was a reason I wanted to hang back, but I can’t remember it now), he insisted I go through. I can be ultra (& unnecessarily) stubborn at times, I didn’t go through. He too, in his stubbornness didn’t go through. We stood outside debating why I had to go through the door. His only argument: “You are a woman”. It was an embarrassingly long time before either of us went through the door. Chivalry becomes chauvinism when choice is removed, when certain things have to be done because of gender & only because of gender. I am physically capable of opening a door, I am also physically capable of holding that door open for others. If I didn’t want/need to go through the door, I shouldn’t be forced to. Chauvinism is not letting girls play certain types of sport for no other reason than they are girls, it’s teaching girls that they can’t be construction workers/body builders/or anything that requires physical exertion because they are girls.

Courtesy: Let me get that for you because I see you’re struggling.

Courtesy is unisex, it’s being polite regardless of gender. It’s everyone helping everyone. It’s those who can, doing. My mum doesn’t explicitly identify as a feminist but I have grown up with the mentality to help those who need help. I have seen my mum help both men and women, I have seen my mum lift things by herself that took two men to lift. My mum hasn’t expressed to me an expectation for a man to do anything for her, and has taught me not to expect certain things just because I am a woman. If a man does something nice for me, help carry my bags, great. If a woman does something nice for me, like help carry my bags, great. If I go out on a date, she makes sure I have my own money. She has taught me that it’s not just about how a man treats me, but it’s about how he treats others too.

The one time that she did openly & actively support an act of chivalry, was when my ex used to drop me home from a night out. He lived in North London, I in South, so he was going out of his way to do so. However, she seemed to only express that view when he took me out, not when I took him – although that may have been coincidental. And the day he fell asleep on the bus, and got lost somewhere in East London, she agreed that it was time he stop dropping me home.

I know men who display acts of chivalry but on a whole disrespect women to the nth degree, or put down their brothers. When chivalry was a thing & required, women were still treated like poo. In today’s day and age, I don’t see how chivalry is an accurate measure of anything, & I don’t see it’s relevance. 

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