Friday, November 6, 2015

The futility of chivalry

On a Monday morning, early in the office premise, when I did not hold the swinging glass door of the building for the lady four steps behind me, she uttered without stopping or looking at me, "Where have all the men gone?”

I instantly regretted not having held the swinging door and give it a slip exactly when she entered.

I felt bad. I usually do hold the door for a lady. But it was a tense morning. I had many thoughts I was struggling to get rid of before I entered office. It just skipped me.

In retrospect, I could not help but wonder though. Did she deserve it? Can she demand this from me? Would she have held the door for me? But I am an able bodied man. She looked like an abled bodied woman too.

A reasonable counter argument obviously is that nobody can demand you to be ‘nice’. You just are.

A seemingly harmless matter, ‘popular chivalry’ is intrinsic and deep-rooted to the inequities in our society. I think I understand how the idea of men with the righteous aura and prim demeanor has been ingrained by the novelists and pseudo historians in the minds of women since generations. So I understand the skepticism completely.

The Argument (against popular chivalry)

It is sexist…and it’s not even subtle
It is medieval and wasn’t propagated as a means to give women a sense of equality.  The best pro-chivalry defense that can be offered by anyone is that it is to ‘take care of women’.  But why women need to be taken care of ... and especially any more than men do? The clever inception of this thought began with seductive words of poets and European royalty. Modern women are not as vulnerable as they were in those days. They kick our butts every day…in pretty much everything. Why then do we need a superficial mannerism to validate our need to be seen as a ‘gentlemen’?

Women don’t need it
We all like to be taken care of. There is absolutely nothing wrong in it. But do you really need men to hold doors, pulling out a chair, pay your dinners? You want to take charge? Marry a home maker husband, date a guy who earns lesser, hold the door for a man to pass by (and trust me you will get a very warm smile that’ll make your day). Gestures are beautiful and long as they are voluntary and genderless.


It is a benchmark superficial behavior

Need I explain it? A man must be really empathetic rather than follow a bunch of manners made up by European poets which have no real meaning or application in the real world.

Respect must be gender neutral

Respect humans. All these chivalrous gestures that you now extend to women…think as to why men deserve any lesser. Yes, many of us are crooks (I will even concede that it’s a larger percentage than women). But shouldn’t we extend basic human gestures to everybody, instead of just one gender. What about gays and lesbians and transgender, don’t they deserve chivalry? 

This relates only to ‘popular chivalry’ which means, here, manners and social gestures that men extend exclusively to women.

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