Chivalry is oft proclaimed to be dead. Certainly the origins may have died with the age of knights (the kind that actually fought wars with swords), but the age of ladies first is alive and kicking. Believe it or not, many men still grow up being taught to open doors for women (for all I know, they’ll throw their jackets over puddles for us, too). Granted it is not everyday that I meet a chivalrous man, and their motives may not always be pure, but they are out there.
Out there opening doors, holding them open and gesturing to women to go first. Never mind if they are the ones that need a door held open, they will try their hardest to hold the door for you, the delicate lady.
Chivalry is not dead. The art of making women feel fragile and pathetic is alive and well. It thrives under the guise of good manners, fooling even the men who practice it. Certainly some men hold the door open to stare at your butt, legs, or maybe all of you*, but there exists a population of men that truly believe they are being well-mannered, and, sadly, society seems to agree.
A cultural disconnect exists between myself and those that consider chivalry a good thing. Women are the equals of men, and it makes no sense to treat us as if we are not. It probably never occurs to the chivalrous man that I don’t appreciate having the door held for me. That’s where the cultural disconnect comes in to the picture – it’s as if in one culture handing someone a slimy frog is a compliment while in another it’s just gross. When the first culture hands you a slimy frog, you don’t want to toss it away immediately and shudder, but you also don’t want to be stuck holding the slimy frog**.
The death of chivalry would be a good thing. Every time a man holds a door open for me and allows me to go first it’s as if they are saying, “I am a big strong man, and I am holding the door because you are a weak little woman… Also, you are pathetic.” I know that’s not the message they are trying to send. It doesn’t matter. A woman might think she is slipping out from under the thumb of patriarchy; a man holds the door for you and suddenly you can feel that thumb all over again.
I don’t want to scorn a friendly offering of supposedly good manners, but at the same time I do! Don’t hold the door for me and gesture for me to go first. Most certainly do not rush to open the door for me if you have your hands full and mine are empty. Guess what? I can open my own door, and I would like to help you when you need it. Chivalry can die without the death of good manners – we can open doors for each other, hold doors for each other without it being a problem, as long as men stop acting like women should always walk through doors first or that women should never touch a door handle (do they burn?).
Chivalry is not dead, it’s exasperating. I’m considering a shirt that says, “Do not hold doors for me and gesture for me to go first.” It’s a bit wordy.
*What is it with straight men and the way women walk?
**Actually, I like frogs. Not the best example ever, but it still works.