The Reason Chivalry is Dead.
Posted by Zenaida
I had a friend once tell me I was the reason chivalry was dead. It’s true, I don’t really care for the ladies-first mentality. I don’t have a problem with men opening my doors, as long as they let me open it for them once in a while.
Perhaps it’s simply practical. If the men don’t let the women go first in line at the potluck, then there won’t be anything left for the ladies. Or opening the door for your woman is simply practicing for the time when she has her arms so full of babies and diapers that she can’t open her own door. Paying for all dates really does prove that he will be a worthy provider.
I can tell you I take issue with each of those. Ladies first at the dinner table encourages the stereotype that men are gluttons. I understand that growing boys need their calories, but can’t they learn the lesson that resources should be spread around equally, and then they can fill the gaping hole in their legs? And, if I had children, I’d want my husband to be doing his share of the heavy lifting, and not worrying about whether my door was open or not. I think that I could probably count the number of times a Mormon guy has let me pay for a date on one hand (and yes that probably also has something to say about my dating life). I’ve “hung out” (you’re shocked, I know) a number of times when we split the cost, but once it becomes an official date, I’ve definitely had one or two absolutely insist that they pay. There’s usually an uncomfortable moment when I pull out my wallet, and I’m trying to decide if he’s the kind of guy that is going to graciously accept my half of the bill, or is he going to insist. And, do I graciously accept his offer, do I put up a fight, or do I even bother to offer?
Maybe it’s even more practical than that. Women are vulnerable. I can’t get around it. I can’t/shouldn’t go out and have a run in the dark because I could be raped. I will earn statistically less than my male counterparts in my lifetime. (See an interesting article on women’s earnings in the workplace here.) Maybe I need to be put up on that pedastal for real and necessary protection.
Now this brings out the problem of being on a pedastal. Being put on a pedastal just makes it hard to balance, and easier to fall, I think. As has been brought up in earlier posts, the idea that you can only be either an angel or a devil is just not realistic. Can’t I just be myself?
And now, comes the confession. I kind of like having my door opened. It makes me feel special, and like a princess. However, I also think it tends to give me a false sense of entitlement. And, I worry about this kind of behavior being characterized as showing respect for women. If being respected means that I don’t learn to hold myself up as an individual, and it means that to be protected I must be kept innocent (and by innocent, I mean naive) and pristine, then I don’t think I want that respect.
I think the next question is, how do women show respect for men? The first thing that comes to mind is “modesty.” Once again my Young Women’s lessons bring me to the conclusion that the way I respect myself and others is simply by avoiding sexuality in any way. Are there any other ways to show respect to men?
Whether or not I’ve single-handedly killed chivalry, I will continue to challenge it. If you see a bright twenty-something helping the little old man across the street, that could be me.