The Sexist

What Men Get Out of Chivalry

This weekend, I made a little friendly gesture toward a stranger. We were in the best grocery store in the D.C. metropolitan area when we both grabbed for the last piece of produce, saw each other, and hesitated. I took the vegetable and presented it to him; he thanked me sincerely. It's not like I'm fucking Mother Teresa or anything, but it feels nice to do small things for other people, nice enough at least to make up for the lost veggie. And it made me think about all the little things that the modern chivalric code teaches men to do for women—open doors, carry bags, pull out chairs, take coats, stand when a woman enters the room. These are actions that may only reduce a woman's inconvenience by seconds (opening her door) or which may not inherently benefit her at all (standing when she enters). In most cases, the benefit to the woman is outweighed by the pleasure the man gets out of doing something nice for her. Chivalry robs women of that feeling. It may not feel like much in one little vegetable-giving, but compound that over a lifetime and separate it entirely along gender lines, and shit starts to get pretty weird.

  • b-bop

    Just to clear up the "hold the elevator" bit...I know there is a door open button, but sometimes someone comes running as the door is closing, and I have found that holding the door with your hands (while possibly not the best idea) causes the doors to re-open. I always do that before I think of the 'door open' button.

  • Twitch

    D, a woman paying for her own meal might feel bad about making someone else spend money on them, or think that the tradition of women never paying for themselves in unfair and sexist, or a number of other reasons.

    It does not automatically mean rejection. Maybe in your case, that is what the woman was trying to get across, but I think you are clinging too desperately to antiquated gender norms for romantic interaction.

  • Liz

    Often times, I can tell whether someone is holding the door for me out of common courtesy or out of the idea of chivalry. I think it involves whether the other person registers that you're female before holding the door or not... Like, sometimes you can tell the person just saw a human in his/her peripheral vision and waited that extra few seconds at the door out of common courtesy.

    What annoys me is the overt display of chivalry - like when a guy jumps out of his way to get the door after he realizes you're a (young, attractive) female. It involves eye contact or a smile or something that is hard to explain, but just FEELS different. I don't usually like saying this, but I think this is one of those things only women who have experienced it can understand.

  • EmilyBites

    @hexy - as a warcraft geek, this made me laugh so hard.

    Exactly - if the interaction reaches the point where the man is DISTRESSING the woman by his 'chivalrous' behaviour, all pretence on his part of making a positive gesture has been dropped and he is flatly, unashamedly asserting that his right to control you is greater than your right to be undistressed!