The Sexist

Sexist Beatdown: Chivalrous Dudes Punching Chivalrous Dudes, For Chivalry Edition


And which knave am I to bludgeon on your behalf today, milady?

In ye olden times, chivalric codes were drafted in the interest of guiding the courting behavior of men toward women: "Thou shalt avoid avarice like the deadly pestilence and shalt embrace its opposite"; "Thou shalt keep thyself chaste for the sake of her whom thou lovest"; "Thou shalt not be a revealer of love affairs"; "In practising the solaces of love thou shalt not exceed the desires of thy lover."

In modern times, however, the code of chivalry has certainly evolved a bit: Thou shalt pay for her Miller Lights, before you retire to thy bed; thou shalt withdraw her chair, in preparation for her ass; thou shalt open thy lady's door, in deference to her tiny dinosaur arms; and thou shalt punch out any man who stareth at thy lady's bosom.

In this edition of Sexist Beatdown, join Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown and I talk chivalry, and its many splendored fucked-up-ed-ness.

SADY: Why hello, milady! Allow me to open this chat for you! And also, all your many doors!

AMANDA: I demurely accept your chivalric advances. Milord.

SADY: Should you not do so, my honor would be spurned! I think it's really awesome that you wrote about this, by the way. The idea of women as just sort of cred-building vessels for a dude's Honor. As if dudes were all Klingons and had to fight over Honor all the time because of their harsh Klingon ways.

AMANDA: Right, and of course, we are meant to be flattered by all the polite attention!

SADY: Right. I mean, people object to "chivalry" all the time on the grounds that it infantilizes women. WHICH IT DOES! The idea that I can't open a door or pay for dinner or walk on the side of the street that is nearest to traffic (this is actually something someone told me once: It's the dude's duty to walk on the outside, to protect a lady from traffic-proximity and, one supposes, mud from horse-drawn carriages spattering her dainty gown) makes it seem like you think I'm a freaking toddler. But it's also a way for dudes to reduce ladies to chips in the ongoing poker game between dudes, the stakes of which are deciding Who Is The Most Manly.

AMANDA: To me, chivalry is shorthand for "How can we treat women like they're not full humans in the most seemingly complimentary way possible, so that they can not object to not being treated like humans?"

SADY: "Oh, sweetie, let me pay for dinner. Everyone knows you can't do math!"

AMANDA: And because chivalry is seen through the lens of Doing Nice Things For Women, the idea is that if we get rid of chivalry then men will treat women poorly. I've heard people argue that men punching women in the face is a consequence of the loss of chivalry! Feminism causes men to hit women, essentially. But people who further these awesome theories are actually just leaving out the flip-side of chivalry, the one where Men Act Aggressively Toward One Another In Order to Protect A Lady's Honor, and that side has also got to go.

SADY: Right. That's the thing, the thing that was most interesting to me about your piece: The idea that Patriarchy is just some grand competition that dudes put on to show who is the MOST Patriarchal, and since our conception of a Patriarch includes violence and doin' a bunch of broads, dudes are inherently sort of pitted against each other in an eternal punch-off over the broads they do. Granted, one might have absorbed this lesson by watching, like, "Die Hard!" Or any given action movie! But your piece was kind of revelatory to me in that aspect. And maybe that's why certain dudes think that the only option, other than Patriarchy, is punching women ALSO. Like our only options are to have a Punching Class and a Non-Punching Class, and if we get rid of the distinction, civilization will devolve into one big ongoing bar fight.

AMANDA: Haha, right. Like: There is a set number of punches that a man must administer in order to get laid, or whatever, and the rules of chivalry dictate that those punches must be delivered to the faces of other men, not women. Once chivalry is dead, men will have no helpful rules informing them who to punch in order to get laid! This will be a very bad development for humanity! Punches for all!


Stay safe inside, milady, as I visit an associate for the purpose of calling him a "pussy."

SADY: And then, men who are seen as insufficiently punch-prone — men who are, in effect, like LADIES, or who take the sides of ladies in a manner other than punching some dude cause he was rude to the broad they're doing — are seen as defectors from the Manliness Wars. AND DEFECTORS GET PUNCHED! I'm really just super-interested in this; that misogynist violence gets aimed at MEN who are seen as insufficiently misogynist. I mean, you can see it all over; in homophobic hate crimes certainly. Because gay dudes are targeted because they're gay, but the underlying assumption in a lot of gay-hating thought is that this makes them somehow like women. And therefore appropriate to hit.

AMANDA: And hey, sometimes it works into making that guy a misogynist! "I got punched for some lady? The world is sexist against men! I will spend my days fighting feminism in order to avoid getting punched again just because I'm a dude!" But my very favorite anti-feminist argument is that anytime a man treats a woman well for any reason, he's being chivalrous, and since feminists think that chivalry is bad, we have no obligation to treat women with respect anymore ever. The end!

SADY: Right. That's the thing. Like, "I helped you move! I held your arm so you could jump over that nasty-ass puddle! I refrained from sexually assaulting you! ALL EXAMPLES OF CHIVALRY. What will you do if it's gone? Get sexually assaulted by me?????" "Probably!"

AMANDA: Haha.

SADY: Like, there has to be some social contract in place so that treating women LIKE THEY'RE PEOPLE, with a minimum of empathy and decency, is not only possible if we also treat women like they are all T-Rexes with tiny little arms that can't reach doors over the length of their large and cumbersome dinosaur bodies. Or a less confusing metaphor! Like, I'd like to think that people are capable of recognizing that ladies are people and can do stuff, and that one ought to treat them well FOR THAT VERY REASON.

AMANDA: OK, but where is the part where I get to punch someone?

SADY: Haha, yeah, that's the part that puts the lie to my theory. Because Real Person Who Can Do Stuff status has historically been reserved for (certain) dudes, and apparently they're all punching each other CONSTANTLY. So! Like, I think this is honestly getting into a real and structural point about the Patriarchy, one which makes me feel very '70s to point out, but: A structure of society based on violent dominance perpetuates violent dominance even betwixt members of its ruling class. The idea is that power — or, hell, personhood — is based on being able to keep other people down by any means necessary, but it's not like dudes are all working together, because the only way they can understand their right to personhood within this context is by their utilization of violent dominance. So The Man is not only keeping us down, he has to keep The Other Men down as well. So that he can remain The Man.

AMANDA: And there's only one The Man.

SADY: I heard it was Willem Dafoe? Or Ernest Borgnine, but he might be dead. So.

AMANDA: Time for a Battle Royale! I do love that we have a sport where you win by punching someone until they can't get up anymore.

SADY: The Ultimate Expression of Manliness! And then we find out that sometimes those dudes actually hurt people in their private lives, and are like, "whoa. But we told you that your value was specifically dependent on your being really good at violence! I don't understand WHY THIS HAPPENED!" I mean, I was recently looking at murder statistics, and it is a fact that men simply DO kill each other more often. Women are killed less, and kill less, but when someone kills a woman, it is like really super-likely to be someone with whom she has an intimate or sexual relationship. I mean, that to me is How Patriarchy Works: Dudes kill ladies with whom they have private relationships, but then, they also go out and kill each other because they cut each other off in traffic or said something shitty at a barbecue or whatever. My point is, there has to be a way to maintain a social accord with our fellow citizens that is not based on (a) being the best puncher, or (b) being widely regarded as too weak and childlike to punch.

AMANDA: and (c) confining your punching of women behind closed doors because punching a woman in public makes you a sissy also.

SADY: Right. Because that's chivalry. Noting that "chivalry" itself is descended from ideas about knights and fair ladies formed in a time and place where women literally had NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER; women were a "protected" class, but the "protection" was from, like, someone other than your husband who had the legal right to beat you for disobeying. "Chivalry" was code for, "stay in the house and I'll protect you from dudes what might sexually assault and impregnate you, that I might sexually assault and impregnate you with no worries as to whose baby you're having." "Also you're probably like fourteen."

AMANDA: Yes. It's just an organizing principle for perpetuating misogyny, not any sort of solution.

SADY: Exactly. But, I mean, what's the solution? For dudes to defect from the system? That makes them total pussies, bro!

AMANDA: Yeah. I mean ... I have yet to solve the cultural problem of guys punching each other. I'm working on it. Right now, the tactic that chivalry takes is to say, "if you perform this certain type of violence, you're a pussy. Only this other kind of violence makes you not-a-pussy."

SADY: Right. I don't know, I think focusing on how Traditional Masculinity Hurts Men is totally fun and I like to do it, but also, they're going to be in the same situation as every other ally, which is: If you stop hating us, you're going to get treated like us.

AMANDA: Right. Have fun with that!

SADY: So... stop hating us anyway? I guess?

AMANDA: Stop hating us and then realize that associating with guys who punch guys for being pussies may get you punched, so stop engaging with those types of people. Stop appearing on the "Jersey Shore" program, basically.

SADY: Yeah. We should make a pamphlet! "Have YOU, friend, been invited to appear in a reality TV show program for awful people? Perhaps you should consider your level of exposure to awful people! And not be awful!" That, I think, would solve a lot of problems. Except, like, Snooki's.

AMANDA: Snooki's problem is interesting, because, having watched the show, Snookie REALLY WANTS TO GET LAID. But she can't just punch somebody in order to do it, because she's a woman! Chivalry is preventing Snooki from getting laid, basically, and it needs to end, for that reason.

SADY: Yes. FREE SNOOKI!

Photos via Svadilfari, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • sanbasl

    i see your arguments on chivalry, and understand the ideas behind them. but to be honest, at least on a personal level, i see nothing wrong with wanting to hold a door open or walking a girl home. i see it far more as polite rather than demoralizing, or "infantilizing" as you say above.

  • Yazzo

    I love how you guys can be completely incoherent and dead on all at once. I DO NOT have a dinosaur body, Mr. Patriarchy! My arms are long and capable!

  • http://teardownthisblog.com David

    Help! I'm a guy, and I like to think I'm fairly feminist. I have my own sort of personal rules that I guess you could think of as being "chivalrous." On the first date I'm paying for everything, and if we ever go to the grocery store or CVS and there are few enough bags that I can carry them without my arms falling off, I will absolutely always carry them. Is that wrong of me? It's not even a conscious thing, it's just kind of automatic. I've never punched a guy, but...yeah maybe I would if he was being overly aggressive or inappropriate toward a lady. Then again, I'd like to think my female friends would punch a lady that was being overly aggressive or inappropriate towards me!

  • http://teardownthisblog.com David

    Oh, addendum, if a lady wants to pay for stuff after the first date, or even maybe for ice cream or something at the end of the date, that's A-OK by me!

  • Shinobi

    I have a big head and tiny arms and I just don't think this plan was very well thought out.

  • Sarah

    David, when you say you will always carry your lady's bags, what would you do if the lady in question didn't want or need your help? ... I like it when friends help me out with heavy stuff and all, but sometimes I don't want or need help carrying something like a grocery bag. It really bothers me when I express that sentiment and whatever man I happen to be with (or in some cases a random man I don't know) begins arguing with me and insisting on being "polite" and trying to take the bags from me. All of these people just need to realize that when a person declines your help, it's not all all polite to act like maybe the person is just too stupid or stubborn to realize that they actually DO want you to take their stuff away from them and carry it.

  • Marty

    The link at the top to the various lists of Ye Olde Courtley Rulese Of Loeve or whatever is priceless. Some of the old slut-shaming classics are in there:

    From Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus:
    11. It is not proper to love any woman whom one would be ashamed to seek to marry.
    14. The easy attainment of love makes it of little value: difficulty of attainment makes it prized.

    Man, where have I heard those two sentiments before?

    Also, for funzies:

    15. Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
    16. When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    @Marty I love how they've got correct male behavior down to the appropriate physiological response. If your heart doesn't immediately palpitate when you catch sight of your beloved, does that make you a pussy?

  • mdesus

    cool fact. Men walking on the outside has nothing to do with traffic. It dates to when people didn't have indoor plumbing and used piss pots. In the mornings they would throw the piss out the window. Thus the person walking on the inside is less likely to get coated in piss when someone throws their piss out the window without looking to see if someone is wlaking underneath first.

  • greg

    This is almost as important an issue as forced marriage and genital mutilation. Thank you for covering the hard hitting topics, you really know how to get to the heart of the matter. Please spare me your woe is me story. You lead a blessed life compared to 99% of the world, keep that in mind.

  • Aaron

    "If your heart doesn’t immediately palpitate when you catch sight of your beloved, does that make you a pussy?"

    No, but it does mean you'd better not marry her 'cuz you're not really in love. If you don't experience syncope every time someone of the right sex to be your beloved crosses your path, you're not In Lurve, you're just horny.

    Hey, greg, it's great to know that you're more concerned about serious issues like forced marriage and female genital mutilation than actual feminists are! What would women do without a big strong man like you to come tell them what they should be worrying about?

    Oh, yeah, right, they wouldn't have to deal with yet another totally and completely unoriginal fucking concern troll. Get lost, dude, and the next time you think you're going to show yourself as More Feminist Than Feminism, get off the net and masturbate instead; that way, you don't waste anyone's time except yours. Hope this helps!

  • Darrow Montgomery

    Please do more captions for olden days tapestries, please.

  • http://bikegroggery.blogspot.com groggette

    Come now Aaron, don't you know that Caring About Bad Shit only comes in finite quantities? Alas, we American feminists have wasted our Caring About Bad Shit quota on chivalry and Lady Gaga (hey, she's a lady!) and therefore we are unable to care about that other more-bad shit. It's unpossible.

  • Em

    I am so tired of dudes using what I'm now going to call the greg argument. Just because worse things are happening, less bad but still bad things should be ignored? People are spoiled and awful for trying to constantly improve society? If we ever get to a point where we're all like, "okay, yeah, not perfect, but good enough," I mean, that's an emotionally dead society with no drive whatsoever. Sad, and pathetic.

    Seems to me that people like that are just saying, "Hi, see, the status quo is working out really well for *me*, so can you not change it? If you try to change it, you hate America! And Men!"

    Which is, quite the argumenative fallacy. Congratulations on using a tired argument!

  • kza

    I just like hitting people and getting hit myself. I've never hit anyone over a woman before, just had a bunch of drunken brawls with my friends. I think the people that this post describes is a really tiny minority. I live at the Jersey Shore, theres a couple of guido douchebags but the other 99% of the people are normal.

  • PD

    Man, I WISH I had tiny dinosaur arms. That would be so hysterical!

    Also, I second Em's suggestion about Greg getting his own Argument, although I hate to validate him in that way.

  • Em

    How about Greg's Argumenative Fallacy?

    Because it's not really a good argument. I'd hate to call it one.

  • Julia

    This reminds me of my grandpa. He's really quite old and always insists on carrying things when I'm around, despite the fact that I most definitely have more upper body strength then he does.

    Side note: If Chivalry demands that men carry heavy things and women do not carry heavy things because women are the physically weaker sex, doesn't that practice make women even more comparatively weaker then men, since they never carry the heavy stuff?

  • http://birthdaybreadhorse.wordpress.com/ Laura

    Men who are afraid of committing accidental chivalry: may I suggest that you make it a point to be kind and helpful to people regardless of their genders? That way, you can rest assured that you are just a kind and helpful person and not trying to score Manly Punching Points. Bonus: the world will be a little bit less awful!

  • Pingback: What’s the condom too small for: your dick, or your ego? « Birthday Bread Horse

  • Sam

    Amanda,

    Politeness is not the real point. Manners are cultural artefacts that are, if that, amplifications of underlying factors. But the thing about male hierarchies, doing, and punching cuts right to the core of social structures and their potential origins.

    There *is* good (protection) and *bad* (unreasonably attack) violence, and I doubt anyone would be able to argue the opposite. Being able to decide what is *good* and what is *bad* violence was part of the classic masculinity script that is now largely cultural history.

    Maybe some odd sexism a stylistic element of your sexist beatdown series and I just don't get the joke. But to be honest, as a guy, I feel a little unfairly mocked by this piece ("I think focusing on how Traditional Masculinity Hurts Men is totally fun and I like to do it"), particularly since you seem to understand that you're asking some pretty important questions about the origin of social and cultural structures as well as important questions about (particularly) masculinity, but then seem to decide to gloss over them for a feminist laugh about clueless guys who can't decide whether to split the check, hold cour coat, or punch each other in the face.

  • kza

    I agree with Sam. This isn't really my favorite weekly post.

  • Jeff

    There was an interesting news magazine show on ABC's What Would You Do?

    It concerned people stepping in to help obviously abused women.

    One of the high points is when a man steps in and confronts the abusive boyfriend in lieu of letting the woman handle the situation herself.

    I think we can all agree this is a desirable outcome, but the fact of the matter is he robbed the woman of her own agency to handle her problem and only added to the gender disparity that continues on in our nation. Now women everywhere will expect men to do such acts, even when they have been explicitly told not to.

    Such mixed messages can mentally cripple helpful people who want to do right by society but also conform to modern gender relations.

  • SophieK

    Lovely, lovely article that has cheered me up after a foul day - thank you both very much.

    I'd just like to add, in regard to the Men Who Like to Punch Men for Looking at their Womenfolk, what has always really pissed me off about that is not just the possessiveness, but also the subtext of 'Womenfolk are not to be trusted'.

    If I'm with someone and another man hits on me, it's my place to reject him. It's not my date's place to get violent - I feel like if you take that to its illogical conclusion, then my date is presuming I'm so fickle I might a/ run out on him at any given time because another man has expressed some interest or b/ that I will ultimately award myself to the man who proves to be the best at the punching.

    It works both ways - I've never felt the need to warn other women off from flirting at my partner, because I know that he'll turn them down himself.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    Hello Sam,

    "I think focusing on how Traditional Masculinity Hurts Men is totally fun and I like to do it." I didn't say this, but I'm surprised that you saw this as some sort of mockery of men. In fact, it's a pretty honest summary of most of what Sady's (and my) work actually does. Perhaps you're unfamiliar with this work, so this is what we do: a) we talk about important things (sometimes even relating to problems with traditional masculinity!); and b) we have fun doing it.

    Patriarchal structures are really fucking awful, but they're also full of really ridiculous standards and expectations that are ripe for mockery. And so, we make jokes about these things, which is actually a really helpful mechanism for pointing out the absurdity of gender roles. However, this tactic has its limits. That's where Sady's comment comes in.

    You're overlooking the part of "I think focusing on how Traditional Masculinity Hurts Men is totally fun and I like to do it" where Sady ACTUALLY says "I think focusing on how Traditional Masculinity Hurts Men is totally fun and I like to do it, but." But. Then, Sady goes on to explain that actually, critiquing masculinity (work Sady does OFTEN) is not particularly helpful in the long run, because she has no solutions. Men who abandon traditional masculinity (and chivalry) risk being punished by the same structures that punish women, and she doesn't have an answer to that. It can end up being a big risk for men. She's employing the phrase in mockery not of men, but of feminism, actually.

  • Sarah #13

    "thou shalt open thy lady’s door, in deference to her tiny dinosaur arms"

    (Laughing my ass off.)

  • Sam

    Amanda,

    thanks for your clarifications :).

    "Then, Sady goes on to explain that actually, critiquing masculinity (work Sady does OFTEN) is not particularly helpful in the long run, because she has no solutions."

    Yeah. That is a big problem. I've mentioned this before, but one of the best discussions about this I've ever come across is over at Clarisse Thorn's blog -

    http://clarissethorn.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/manliness-and-feminism-the-followup

    As for chivalry itself, I almost got hit in the face by it last night. I was at a wedding, and rather late last night, a female guest of the bride's, a married mother of two, suddenly hits on me at the bar, like, hard - "ok, I'm married and have kids but I've seen you earlier, I think you're cute, and do me anyway, like, now." She didn't even care that her husband was standing about 2 meters next to us when she came on to me. I was being nice, making polite conversation, thanking her for the compliment and generally tried to deescalate the situation. When her husband walked away unsurprisingly rather pissed off, the groom came over to tell *me* to be careful unless I want to be punched in the face by him... (he also told her o go and take care of her husband, which she did). Funny, right? She's behaving inappropriately while drunk, but instead of taking his wife home, feeding her a couple of aspirins and let her sleep, apparently her husband was considering punching me in the face because his wife liked my style. Luckily nothing happened...

  • http://thesecondawakening.com CL Minou

    @David: one way of doing things to show you care for another person (presumably why you want to carry her bags or pay for dinner) without infantilizing her is to...ask her. Like, "Would you like me to help you carry those bags?" or "I'd really like to pay for dinner, is that all right with you?" Amazing! You break the bonds of chivalry, restore equality to your relationship, and strike a blow for feminism all by simply treating your date as a full human being!

    (OK, I mocked a little much. But you get my point: it's possible to be a nice guy without running around and doing things out of Ye Olde Code of Honour.)

    @Em: I usually refute Greg-style arguments by saying that there is no Law of Conservation of Outrage. So maybe it can be the Fallacy of Conservation of Outrage? Or Greg's Razor? Modus Gregorius? The mind reels...

  • http://ayoungethan.wordpress.com ethan

    Amanda and Sady: someday, i hope to meet you two (or even just one of you) and ask to shake your hand vigorously in non-chivalrous thanks.

  • http://ayoungethan.wordpress.com ethan

    ok, i posted this and refreshed and there were a whole bunch of comments.

    Sam: I didn't see it as a mockery of men, but of the ridiculous expectations and false dichotomies that patriarchal masculinity imposes on us. Just sayin'...i was laughing too hard and in a cathartic manner to be offended.

    Also, solutions: as men, we're gonna get mocked, called gay/pussy/fag/homo/bitch/etc and punched anyway. why not have it done to us with a little courage in the name of gender justice and liberation, vs having it done to us and doing it to others as a way to fit in and perpetuate this shit?

    so, the difference is we're getting called more names/punched more, and doing less name calling and punching. pretty small risk for hetero men, IMO, compared to the crap that women/trans/queer/gay people face EVERY DAY.

    the personal and social benefits start rolling in when the "oh, yeah, me toos" start, and pretty soon you have a cohort of hetero men who can all point and laugh at the lone mr. punchosaurus (see what i just did there?) and his demeaning dinosaur ways. cuz he isn't going to change -- just his reward system. which is the rest of us and the way we act.

  • Sam

    ethan,

    yes, but it's not just men perpetuating this. It's women, too, and, in my opinion, their impact on the reward system is bigger than they believe.

    I've rarely seen a better description of the problem than this one in the first installment of Clarisse Thorn's masculinity series (and sorry for always mentioning that other post, but it's been of tremendous value to me and the couple of other commenters - we've been discussing the thread for 6 months now).

    "A male friend once wrote to me, “I think you personally find expressions of masculinity hot, but you also have no patience with sexism. You’ve caught on that it’s tricky for men to figure out how to deliver both of these things you need, that you don’t have a lot of good direction to give to fellas about it, and that neither does anyone else.”"

    "Good" hetero masculinities have become such a fine line to walk - and I don't think there is a lot of understanding for this - I believe - core facet of the gender discourse.

  • Kristina

    Sam, I agree that there must be a fine line for men to walk in order to ensure that they are being polite human beings without crossing over to overbearingly-protective-of-oh-so-weak-ladies human beings. That said, it's like many have said before me in this comment section: it's about being polite to everyone regardless of gender. If anyone is holding heavy bags, and you happen to be able to carry some, it's nice to offer. But to insist because she's a lady and that's what is *done* is a little much. (I know you're not insisting that, but it happens.) Ask, ask, ask. The lady in question will let you know. This goes for the first date thing too. Granted, I don't see much of a problem with saying something beforehand to the effect of, "I really like to pay for a first date because that's just how I like to do things. I took the initiative to ask you out, so I'd like to also take the initiative with regard to paying. Is that alright?" I feel like maybe it's less about "OMG poor ladies!" and more about "well, I asked her out so I'll come through with the cash for the adventure", which is cool in my book.

    I also agree with what Ethan said. Toeing that line between polite and overbearing is difficult, but perhaps it's in deference to a higher cause of bringing that equality level a little nearer? Regardless, it's appreciated.

  • Sam

    Kristina,

    again, in my opinion politeness isn't the most important aspect here. The problem as I see it may be bit more difficult grasp. I just posted this quote from a new study about male modesty on the thread I referred to above -

    http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Nobody-Likes-a-Modest-Man/24175/

    Quote:

    “Each of the participants in the study—232 undergraduates—were randomly shown one of the scripted, videotaped interviews and asked to rate the fake applicant on a number of qualities, including whether they liked the person. The male applicants were rated as less likable than the female applicants, even though they gave the same answers to the questions. Interestingly, ***the modest men were disliked by women and by other men. Everybody hates them.***

    So why would the same answers coming from men be deemed less acceptable?

    From the paper:

    Changes in gender roles that have afforded women more financial independence have not yielded relaxed demands for men. That is, men are still required to uphold masculine ideals that require chronic exhibitions of strength while avoiding signs of weakness."

    The more you think about it, the more expectations of masculinity will appear as a double bind.

    And if you want my honest opinion, more women than not will *not* want to discuss how to deal with this on a (first) date. More women than not will not appreciate an honest dissection of behavioural standards of masculinity when it comes to paying or initiating. I they have a point. Even feminist women - take this thread from male feminist Hugo Schwyzer (http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/06/its_election_da.html) Quote - "As Jackie put it, "I don't want a man to always ask me where I want to go to dinner -- sometimes I want a man confident enough to pick the damn restaurant on his own."

    Another thing - the protectiveness thing is also appreciated, at least on a performative level. See, I have a friend who lives in a not-so-great neighbourhood, but it's not like it's dangerous or so. Still, he always picks his girlfriend at the bus stop when she comes by, and while she complains to him about all the chivalry stuff and being independent and all that, yet she recently told me *how much she LOVES it when he picks her up because it shows her how much he cares*.

    This isn't simple. And it's only superficially about politeness.

  • Kristina

    Sam, nobody ever said it was simple. But I think that chivalry is faulty in that it purports that women are the only ones who need help. Sometimes men need help too.

    And I want other people (not just male people) to pick a restaurant all the time. But it's not because I'm a lady. It's because I'm indecisive and would probably not eat if someone else didn't tell me where to go. Or I'd eat cereal.

    I really don't disagree with anything you've said. Then again, all of the things you are citing are anecdotal. That is why I say to ask. Because everybody has different ideas about how they want to be treated.

  • Jeff

    "That is why I say to ask. Because everybody has different ideas about how they want to be treated."

    I've been wondering about this and an earlier story about Bystander Sexism. When is it appropriate to overrule somebody's own personal feelings for the sake of stopping harassment? I mean if the man steps in like a hero, the woman may not appreciate it since "she's got this" even when she clearly doesn't. And he certainly doesn't want to let the harassment continue.

    Should he just not care? I think over-analyzing courteousness can have a paralyzing effect on would be helpers who will probably reach the conclusion that it's better to let troubled people fend for themselves and damn the consequences.

  • Kristina

    Jeff, I think one should step in for someone in need of assistance regardless of gender. Sure, sometimes it's thankless, but if it's based on a true desire to help someone because their situation sucks and not because they're a poor, defenseless ladyperson, then I feel the right think was done.

  • Sam

    Maybe an insight into the "why dudes punch each other" aspect.

    To get the girl
    Fighting off rivals may be responsible for masculine traits

    http://www.economist.com/science-technology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=16160490&fsrc=scn/fb/wl/ar/getgirl

  • Sam

    From the author of the paper, commenting on the Economist thread -

    "Misunderstanding #3: This research is aimed at vilifying men.

    I understand the sentiment, but no. This research is aimed at a realistic view of mating competition in ancestral men, and an understanding of the origins of men’s traits. No test of a scientific hypothesis is conclusive, but my review of the evidence indicates that the (perhaps more politically correct) idea that our male ancestors won mates primarily by attracting them is probably wrong."

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  • Dorman Shindler

    I skipped the comments, so if someone else already pointed out something similar, apologies. All goofiness (in the article) aside, I've _never_ understood the desire to get into a fight (over women or to impress other guys with one's manliness). Always managed to avoid it, even in the Army (and if you ladies think guys in the regular world are busting at the seams with insecurity-driven machismo, well...). Me? If a woman isn't interested, I'll move on (even hanging in there and trying to woo her back might not help -- I tried it). And fighting over a woman seems pretty dumb, given that there are usually more women than men. Fighting just to prove one is tougher than the other guy is moronic (Personally, I'd rather be called a pussy than a penis. After all, when's the last time a guy tried to squeeze out nine pounds of extraneous weight through _his_ genitals?)

    That said, even though I was an Army brat (before _not_ learning a lesson and joining the Army myself, for a few years), I also grew up in the South. People greeted each other on the street, and held doors for each other -- not just for women. It was considered polite. Living in OZ (Australia) now, so I can't say for sure, but perhaps such polite behavior has gone the way of the dodo down South as well (when last in the USA, 2007, for nearly two decades, I noticed a dearth of good ol' politeness in the Midwest). And I also practiced the above-mentioned habit of walking "on the outside" when with someone (usually a lady, since I enjoy their company more often than guys -- one can only talk about sports and cars for so many minutes before boredom sets in). I'd like to point out that when I do something like that (I still do it), whether it be with my daughter or partner or just a new found friend, I do it because I care about them. And would rather put myself in harm's way first. _Not_ out of antiquated sense of men being stronger or whatever.

    Just some food for thought -- for Sady, Amanda, and anyone else who might like to consider it.

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