When was the last time a man opened your car door or offered you a seat on the bus? When was the last time a man paid the entire bill by pure generosity? It has come to my attention that gallantry and sexism have been greatly discussed in various media platforms and countless researchers, journalists and bloggers are presently sharing their strong believes concerning these taboo concepts. Is chivalry really dead?
CHIVALRY: A SYNONYM FOR SEXISM
Chivalry as well as sexism have been the subject of various studies lately. It seams that researchers are desperately trying to attest a sustainable correlation between these two concepts and force their conclusion on us. Initially, a new study out of Northeastern University in Boston says there exist two types of sexism. First, according to psychologist Jin Goh, acts of chivalry, such as offering a jacket to a cold female pal, paying for dinner, and calling a women “love” or “dear” are signs of “benevolent sexists”, while “hostile sexists” are those who whistle at women on the streets or specifically leave housework to their girlfriends. Furthermore, according to a study called “Sex Roles”, opening a door for a lady is considered as “benevolent sexism” since men doing so apparently believe women are useless and fragile, and thus necessitates protection. I actually think these studies are utterly ridiculous. What if a man is holding a door for his “love” or paying the bill only to be kind? Aren’t these acts of chivalry the reflection of ultimate politeness? If we summarize, these studies are telling us that men treating women like inferior individuals are sexist and chauvinistic, while men treating women with respect and gallantry are also sexist and chauvinistic.
FEMINISM VERSUS CHILVARY
The actual meaning of the word “chivalry” has become as absent and bewildered as the word “feminism,” and perhaps this is why these two concepts seem to be negatively criticized. Essentially, chivalry can be described as the combination of ideal knightly qualities, such as courtesy, generosity and valor. On the other end, feminism is the belief in the social, economic and political equality of both genders. It seams obvious that our society somehow has lost the sight of what these terms actually mean. Generation Y women were raised thinking they are strong and independent and thus, do not require a need whatsoever for a man. They are accustomed to pulling out our own seat, splitting the bill and opening our own doors and perceive chivalry acts as an attack to her female rights. This has all led to a post-feminist backlash, in which men prevent themselves from helping women in the fear of appearing sexist or patronizing. It has left me wondering if our fight for equality might have killed chivalry. However, the fact that I am a very independent and liberated woman does not mean that I do not want to be taken care of by a man.
On International Women’s Day Emma Watson, UN Goodwill Ambassador for Women, discuss the act of chivalry and how it should really be consensual during a Facebook Q&A. “The key is chivalry should be consensual, both parties should be feeling good about that.” she said during a conversation encouraging men to help enforce gender equality. When asked about chivalry, she proudly admitted that she fully embraces a man who holds door for her. She added, “But I think the key is, would you mind if I open the door for you?” Watson’s argument is completely valuable: Chivalry and feminism are not mutually exclusive. However, many misconceptions about chivalry, in which men have to do the first steps while women are supposed to be won over contributes to the inequality of gender. I personally believe a blissful and long-lasting relationship is one of equals, not one based on this regressive game of control.
GENERATION Y’S LOW STANDARDS
Even though the rise of consciousness and awareness of gender inequality have helped women significantly gained rights as well as respect since the last decades, it has come to my attention that gender equality might have lowered women’s standards. Indeed, young women, especially those belonging to Generation Y, have become so accustomed to equality; they have actually allowed men to get away with the bare minimum. When we examine the situation closely, we cannot help but acknowledge the severe contrast between the standards of past generations and the ones of young people. Before the rise of unrealistic beauty standards, extreme plastic surgeries and abundant used of pornography, men were simply attracted to what women naturally represented and offered. Hence, since women allow men to treat them mediocrely, any tolerable standard in chivalry expectations has become at risk of extinction. Thus, women should definitely reexamine how they accept to be treated and define adequate standards for men to be likely to meet these standards in what they offer. Therefore, chivalry is not really dead, it just adapted itself to what being a lady has become today.
The notions of chivalry have mostly been implemented in courtship for the last decades persist most strongly through the concept of dating. However, in this technological society, where dating apps like Tinder and Grindr has radically transformed how we interact, has romance become outdated? Nowadays, picking up a girl for a date by knocking on a door has been replaced with a “I’m here” text; starting a relationship has been replaced with an online relationship status; compliments have been replaced by Instagram likes; conversation start ups have been replaced with “swipe left” and love letters have been replaced instant messaging. I believe that men would actually be forced to act a lot more chivalrous if we eliminate the need to substitute real interaction with social media.
In conclusion, I believe people seemed to have forgotten that gallantry is simply a common courtesy. But chivalry is more than being a gentleman; it is about being a good person no matter what gender you are. Next time you are sitting in public transport, remind yourself of the true meaning of chivalry and genuinely offer your seat to elders, disabled people or pregnant women for the benefit of our entire community.