Chivalry is dead. And whoever killed it, I’m mad at’cha.

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Erykah Badu is one of those singers who I would pre-order their new album without even listening to a single track, if only she would let go of the weird numerology stuff. I mean, I’m all for burning incense as much as the next chick with an afro, but add a couple of Egyptology symbols and references to ancestor worship and you’re left with me, rocking in a corner and crossing myself for protection. There’s one song of hers that I always like to sing as I’m hauling myself across Victoria station though… “Bag lady, you gon’ hurt your back, carrying all them bags like that..”. Now it’s supposed to be some kind of deep metaphor about emotional baggage, letting go of inner demons so you can be loved etc, but I’ve managed to reduce it to a literal cry for help. I hummed this softly a few months ago, as I practically crawled through crowds of rush hour yuppies, confused Chinese tourists and the general riff raff of London, hoping that at least one gentleman would see me with:

1)My extremely large suitcase

2)My tattered Primark overnight bag

3) My Sainsbury’s ‘oversized help the environment’ shopper

4) A Satchel

5) Another Sports Direct shopper…

And come to my aid. I hummed louder. I tried to look forlorn. I even tried imitating the ‘laboured breathing’ of the patients I had seen in the respiratory ward that week. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. In fact, I almost got knocked over by an rather overweight chap, who glowered at me as if to say “Get out of my way damsel in distress, can’t you see I’m in a rush?”.

As I struggled across the road to the bus stop, the wheel of my suitcase broke, but I bravely soldiered on, looking like an extra from D’jango, heavy laden and distraught. The one redeeming member of the male species was a tall, rather handsome man who helped me put my suitcase on the bus. Disarmed by his unexpected chivalry and good looks, I unwittingly dropped my Oyster card on the pavement and ended up paying £2.40. (I hate you Boris, I hate you).

I give you this rather long winded tale, to tell you that chivalry is dead. I don’t know who murdered it, but I have my suspects. Some feminist got overexcited burning her bra around 1964, and decided to throw chivalry into the fire as well. I want chivalry back, and I also want La Senza to start stocking my size. (Cheers, for the whole equal pay thing though ‘preciate that. No, seriously, my overdraft thanks you)

On a serious note, I feel like this lack of gentlemanly behaviour is simply a retaliation from men, a petulant act of defiance because they’ve been forced to start attempting (note ‘attempting’) to treat us equally. Just because you can no longer pay us in pints of milk and apron fabric for doing the same job as you, does not mean you can’t open a door. In fact, women are doing a lot of the things they were doing 50 years ago, they just now have a 9 to 5 job to add to the mix. Most of the women I know are still the primary cooks, cleaners, child carers etc for their household, and do this while working FULL time. Men complain that the feminist movement has ruined it for them, but actually I think they’ve profited quite nicely from it.

The institution of marriage has been belittled and pretty much destroyed to the point where men know they can get the milk for free without even putting a down payment on an udder, let alone the actual cow. A 21’st century woman will – cook for you, clean for you, sleep with you, and bear you children, with no guarantee of commitment apart from a vague inclination you gave over coffee a couple of weeks ago. Frankly, it’s ridiculous.

And the backlash to this is that men hold their hands up and say “Fine, if you’re so independent and can do everything a man can do, then I will leave a 5 ft 2 puny woman to struggle with enough luggage to start a plane line, across London by herself”.

Let me be honest. I have a right to vote. I have a right to be paid as much as any man. I have a right to have access to the same opportunities he does. But….If we’re going to go the whole way, let’s go the whole way! If men want to drop chivalry, then they should stop saying things like ‘I only want a woman who can cook’. If you don’t want to operate under traditional gender roles, then why should I? If you’re bringing home all the veggie bacon, I’m happy to cook all of it, but don’t bring home 30% and then expect me to cook 100%. I might choose to do that if I love you, but how have we got to this crazy situation where women are supposed to do all the things men have traditionally done without men adopting any of the traditional female responsibilities?

You can open a door for me, I can cook you a meal, and we can both get paid the same amount for doing the same job. Is that too much to ask? Is it too much to ask that someone who is a foot taller than me and almost 100 pounds heavier help me carry something? That doesn’t mean I’m inferior, it just means that there’s some things you can do, that I can’t do, and we both need each other.

P.s. And to that guy on the Piccadilly line who bumped me out of the way to get a seat. You only got that seat because I was caught off guard. You don’t know ’bout Pilates….my quadriceps are a force to be reckoned with.

What do you guys think? Is chivalry dead? Should we dance on it’s grave, or try to resurrect it?

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7 Comments

  1. Enes
    September 19, 2013 / 9:44 pm

    *standing ovation*

    This is what i’ve been trying to tell y’all!! hehehe.

    This is something that strikes close to my heart. Yes chivalry is not the main tide of behaviour, but the consciences of men are not completely seared towards it. This is why men will still give a pregnant lady a seat on the train, and did you know, that the army almost never puts women on the front line? They’ve seen that its a distraction because all the men will be focussed on protecting the woman rather than fighting.

    So its not dead.

    But it sure does need some help.

    I might sound like a broken record but it begins at home. With a father who models it with manhood and a woman who teaches the finesse that chivalry adds to character.

    And then us. Us as women. If we all make a pact to shut down any man who does not approach us with respect, to turn our attention away from guys who have no idea what courtesy is…if we raise our own standards of what a good man is… then the guys will HAVE to take up chivalry, because we demand that we will not compromise on that.

    It’s time to make chivalry the default.

    • September 19, 2013 / 10:16 pm

      ” If we all make a pact to shut down any man who does not approach us with respect, to turn our attention away from guys who have no idea what courtesy is…if we raise our own standards of what a good man is… then the guys will HAVE to take up chivalry, because we demand that we will not compromise on that.”. Yeesss Enes. This. Thiiiisss.

  2. Kay F
    September 19, 2013 / 10:04 pm

    Resurrect that bad boy…

  3. September 20, 2013 / 8:28 pm

    I don’t actually know what chivalry is, & if it’s what I think it is, it needs to remain dead. What you’ve described here are gender roles that are, in my opinion, flawed – not that all gender roles are flawed. Why should a man hold the door for you or help you with your luggage because he is a man? These things are down to courteousness & manners, if I see someone struggling in the street, man or woman, I try to help because it’s the polite thing to do.

    A male friend of mine held the door for me once, I insisted he go in first, he insisted I go in fist because I am a woman but I didn’t want to go in first. lol, as petty as it sounds, it kind of shows the ridiculousness of certain societal codes, why did I have to go in first because I am a woman? Why was I denied my choice? From my experience, chivalry dictates & removes my choice & free will. If I want to pay for a date, my partner won’t accept because of chivalry. It doesn’t seem beneficial to society, what we need is manners & selflessness. People who are selfless help extras from Django with their overwhelming luggage.

    • September 20, 2013 / 10:21 pm

      “What you’ve described here are gender roles that are, in my opinion, flawed – not that all gender roles are flawed. Why should a man hold the door for you or help you with your luggage because he is a man? These things are down to courteousness & manners, if I see someone struggling in the street, man or woman, I try to help because it’s the polite thing to do.”

      I guess this is where I disagree and agree with you at the same time. Yes, anyone who is struggling should be helped by a helpful person male or female. However, chivalry came historically from the idea that women were the weaker sex. Physically, this is a biological fact. Of course if I see a fellow woman struggling I should help her, but it’s ideal that someone more capable of helping her does that. Generally, that would be a man. In terms of opening doors, yes that’s simply a traditional formality,but again the principle is the idea of women being more physically frail and men having respect for that. I open doors for men and women, but I was brought up to believe that it’s courtesy for a man to let a woman go first. It’s a cultural norm, and I believe the erosion of that cultural norm is significant not because of the act itself, but because of what it signifies about how relationships between men and women have changed.

      “Why did I have to go in first because I am a woman? Why was I denied my choice? From my experience, chivalry dictates & removes my choice & free will. If I want to pay for a date, my partner won’t accept because of chivalry.”. I personally think that that is just point black ridiculous. This is why I can’t get down with feminism because they manage to take something where the intent is respect and being polite and twist it into some notion about men removing agency from women etc. Are you seriously upset that a man won’t let you pay for a date? If you really want to pay, I’m sure you can leave the money on the table and leave. But really, who does that? What it boils down to is the assumption about intent. If you say politely to a man, “I’d rather you go first,I don’t like going first” A truly chivalrous man will think you’re a bit strange, but will probably walk through the door first and et you go behind him.

      • September 20, 2013 / 11:11 pm

        “chivalry came historically from the idea that women were the weaker sex”
        No, it came from Knight code of conduct & was primarily about war & owning war horses than helping anyone. It wasn’t until Christianity came into the mix that it was then extended to helping those weaker in society, which doesn’t only include women. Also, it wasn’t a man & woman thing, it was a Knight & everybody else thing.

        “Of course if I see a fellow woman struggling I should help her, but it’s ideal that someone more capable of helping her does that”
        Surely context is important here? E.g. in your situation, you were hauling several bags through a busy train station, if a woman took the suitcase & a bag off of you, you would’ve been fine. The situation would be different if say, you were on a construction site trying to carry 10 cement bricks. The weight of your bags are no where near as heavy as cement bricks, and I don’t think a man is more capable of carry your bags than a woman. (obviously, individual strength comes into it, but I’m speaking generally)

        “In terms of opening doors, yes that’s simply a traditional formality,but again the principle is the idea of women being more physically frail and men having respect for that.”
        Shade, are you seriously saying that because you are a woman, you are less capable of opening a door than a man? To be honest, I can think of a point in history where men respected women on a societal scale. Any man can open a door for a woman, but I don’t think that means he does/doesn’t respect women. I think it’s a polite thing to do & there’s really nothing more to it, I’m not going to assume he respects me because he pays for dinner & opens doors for me.

        “Are you seriously upset that a man won’t let you pay for a date? If you really want to pay, I’m sure you can leave the money on the table and leave. But really, who does that? What it boils down to is the assumption about intent. If you say politely to a man, “I’d rather you go first,I don’t like going first” A truly chivalrous man will think you’re a bit strange, but will probably walk through the door first and et you go behind him.”
        Me being me, I do find it irritating. I like to treat the people I love, it’d become a problem if you don’t let me treat you because you think the only way a woman can treat a man is by issuing sex or food. Men have insisted on paying on dates for me & it has less to do with the fact they respect me as a woman, and more to do with their insecurities as men. Of course, if someone opens a door for me & I have no reason not to go first, I’ll go first – it’s not that deep. However, in this scenario I was trying to prove a point to the young man about the difference of being chivalrous and chauvinistic. He refused to go through the door & we both (because I’m stubborn) stayed outside for longer than needed. A bit extreme, but my point stands, this whole chivalry thing has very, very little to do with respect for women – it’s more about men feeling like “men” regardless of what the woman wants.

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