Mandating chivalry is mandating sexism


“Okay, now you HAVE to cook me dinner.”
A Latin teacher in Arizona has instituted a rule that all of his male students act like “gentleman” to the young women in class. Yes, that’s right – he’s mandated chivalry.

[Cord] Ivanyi announced the initiative on the first day of class:
• Boys would hold doors for girls.
• They would ask girls if they would like to be seated, and offer to take their backpacks before they sit down.
• Boys would stand if a girl leaves the room.
• They would allow girls to be served first if food is in the classroom.
• And, girls always had the right of refusal.
“All boys will understand chivalry,” Ivanyi said. “It’s teaching them social grace. It’s things they should know when they do go out on dates.”

First of all, this is Latin class – not Old-School Dating 101. But I digress. As I’ve been speaking on college campuses this Spring, several students have asked me how I feel about chivalry, and if promoting feminism means “giving up” men being chivalrous. In a word: yes.
Now, let’s be clear – there’s a big difference between chivalry and manners. Being a nice person that opens doors for others (regardless of their gender) and being respectful is something that we should encourage in all people. That’s being kind; it’s mannered and it’s nice. Chivalry, on the other hand, is straight up based on the idea that women are weaker need to be taken care of. It’s insulting. It’s also a trade-off – one that we’re supposed to be grateful for – for being at the shit end of the patriarchy.
There’s a reason that folks like the Independent Women’s Forum – an organization that fights against Title IX and VAWA – have full on campaigns to promote chivalry. It’s the same reason that conservative columnists bemoan how feminism has killed women being “ladies,” or how if chivalry still existed rape would magically go away: The world in which women are treated like delicate flowers who need dudes to pay for their dinners and put on their jackets is a world in which women are expected to live up to their end of the bargain by being submissive and embracing traditional gender roles. No thanks – I’ll take equal pay over paid dinner dates any day.

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46 Comments

  1. vtfem
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    My friend is a school counselor in the Loudon County public school system in Loudon, Virginia. She was appalled when she found out a 7th grade science teacher was instituting sexist rules in the classroom. She said that the students were assigned seats boy/girl (they were sitting at those two person lab benches) and every day the boys were to pull out their partner’s chair for them to sit down. The girls had to get the boys any supplies that they would need (ie pencils, notebooks, etc) whenever the boys asked.
    The only reason my friend found out this was going on was because a mother of one of the boys called in to complain. She said that she didn’t want her son learning that girls are supposed to wait on boys.
    I bet this sort of thing happens more often then we’d like to think.

  2. SamLL
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Hell yes, you tell ‘em!

  3. Elizabeth
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    What a blast from the past! My 7th grade Home Ec teacher imposed very similar rules. This was in Southwestern Michigan in 1976 or 1977. The teacher was young, too – maybe early 30s at the oldest.
    She also held up a rolling pin in cooking class one day, and told us that it was properly called “a husband beater”. (I am not making this up.)
    It chafed me then, too, and I was only 12 years old. As you say, kids can be taught manners without being taught sexism; they’re not the same thing.

  4. Tracey T
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Seriously, I hate when people equate chivalry and manners. I know this is rough wording but here goes: to me being chivalorous as oppose to having a standard kind treatment for all people is proof positive that it is about setting men as default “humans” and women as something else. Men, as humans, are suppose to be treated politely because they are human (it is also telling when men of racial minorities are treated in non-polite ways becuase it is essentially reinforcing they are not considered human). Women are treated as fragile pets and ornaments.
    In addition, it really grinds my nerves when women are shamed and admonished for not wanting chivalorous treatment and for not “letting men be men”. Essentially, it is necessary that a man prove his manliness through his ability to treat women in a certain fashion, even if that means denying the woman her agency by treating her in a manner that makes her uncomfortable. Why? Because a man being a man is more important than a woman, a non-”human”, having her wishes respected.
    When I tell you that I do not want to be treated a certain way b/c I am a woman and you decide that you will do so because to you it is about proving you are a “good man”, you are denying me my status as a human being. You are saying that your status must come at the expense of my agency, and that it is not neccessary to act in a way that promotes kindness and generosity to everyone based on their wants and needs. When you give up a seat for a woman because you perceive her as a woman, but will not budge for a man getting on the bus who just came from the gym or a basketball game and looks like they are about to collapse, it tells me a lot about how you are not concerned with kindness and consideration but the infantilization of women to heighten your status.
    I remember this exchange that happened among some people in ROTC during summer training:
    Guy offers to give up seat for woman.
    Me: Not necessary to do that b/c we are female.
    Guy: We don’t give up our seats because you are women, but because we are men.
    I think that somes up what I am trying to express. Chivalry creates a system where women are used to show a man’s status, his training/class/strength, etc. What we want, how we feel, and what we are capable of is inconsequential. It isn’t about us, it is about them being able to show they are better than us, and to display strength by controlling/providing for us. Especially when you look at some of the roots of chivalry it is rooted in men being considered stronger (not just physically, but when it comes to having trash thrown on them, being able to stand, etc), women wearing clothes that restricted common movements (to the point we needed help sitting), and men being ready to defend their women.

  5. Comrade Kevin
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I can’t say I disagree with you. The chivalry I think of is more in line with manners, not with sexist assumptions.

  6. SaraLaffs
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with an “etiquette expert” a few months ago at a staff luncheon (apparently designed for professionals whose parents didn’t teach them basic table manners). I took exception to her rule that men at a table should all rise and remain standing until the women are seated.
    You mean, I asked, that if I’m at a formal dinner with my 83-year-old grandfather, he should have to stand and hang out on his cane until all the other females and I decide to sit down? (In my view, I should be the one to show respect for his physical limitations and role as the oldest living member of our family.) Her answer? In that situation, I should use my own judgment. Which of course makes me wonder why I can’t just use my judgment *all the time* – that is, treat people as individuals instead of clinging to these outmoded “rules” that most people either can’t remember or find impractical and/or insulting.
    Basic consideration for other human beings shouldn’t be gendered. And no, my little girly brain won’t recoil in shock if I glimpse the prices on a menu.

  7. Liza
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I do have to say that I love that it was the mom of one of the boys that complained. She’s awesome and obviously doing something right in raising her son.

  8. Evelyn
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I always viewed chivalry as a way of men saying: “thank you for letting us keep our status as first class citizens.”

  9. supremepizza
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    This guy has gone overboard methinks. But teaching an archaic code (boys would stand if girls leave the room really?) is perhaps fytting for thine magister of a deade langyage.
    My mother & her sisters would make the boys in the family open doors & car doors for them. They weren’t allowed to toss things (eg, car keys) to them but had to walk them over. All in all I think it was a good thing.
    The meanings of customs–just like the meanings of words–change over time. In my time I’ve seen both the “N-word” and the word Queer claimed. Chivalry may not be subversive, but stripped from its patriarchal history, its nice.

  10. Becca
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    In addition to all that’s incredibly wrong with this…
    Wouldn’t it be REALLY WEIRD if all the boys had to stand up just because I needed to leave to go use the bathroom?? “Sit down boys, I’m just goin’ to change my tampon!”

  11. genericjanedoe
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    “Now, let’s be clear – there’s a big difference between chivalry and manners.”
    It’s sad to me how often those terms are seen as synonymous. I’ve had someone tell me if chivalry was to die we’d all be treating each other like jerks. NO. Not at all, chivalry actually produces LESS politeness, if you ask me, because the actions are directed in one singular way…man to woman. If we are, instead, polite and offering common courtesies, then everyone just helps everyone! How nice :)
    And come on…I imagine those rituals actually present a significant distraction from what they should all actually be doing: learning Latin.

  12. onlynow
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    “As I’ve been speaking on college campuses this Spring, several students have asked me how I feel about chivalry, and if promoting feminism means “giving up” men being chivalrous. In a word: yes.”
    And what was their response to this answer, Jessica? Were these students wishing for more “chivalry”?
    I thought chivalry was dead 30 years ago! I’m surprised there’s any left to talk about.

  13. cand86
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    All boys will understand chivalry . . . it’s teaching them social grace. It’s things they should know when they do go out on dates.”
    Add heteronormativity to the list- apparently boys only ever date girls!

  14. cattrack2
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    “The meanings of customs–just like the meanings of words–change over time.”
    Half the customs associated with Christmas & Easter were at one time purely pagan. And the kind of pagan that would scare the bejeesus out of your typical Southern Baptist. So, yes, the meanings of customs change.
    If you actually read the linked to article, in fact that’s all the Latin teacher was trying to do, create a little mutual respect. He notes that some of his classes reverse the roles. If you haven’t definitely read it. Its not as bad as the OP depicts it. In fact there’s some great quotes in it by NOW, and even by Emily Post’s great-granddaughter.

  15. Kim C.
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I have to say that I don’t see that as “polite”, but rather very awkward/funny.
    It makes me want to put in a camera, record the average day, and then set the sped-up video to “Cotton Eyed Joe”.

  16. RuthieG
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    “And, girls always had the right of refusal.”
    This confuses me. Refusal to the treatment? I think it kinda implies girls need permission to be granted before they are allowed to refuse something. But it only makes sense taken out of context. My brain is starting to fry a little…

  17. Vexing
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I have horribly conflicting views on chivalry.
    On one hand, I totally see how horrible it is and fully understand the implications of so called ‘benevolent’ sexism as an artifice which hold women in contempt as smaller, weaker, lesser creatures.
    On the other hand, when someone holds the door open for me or allows me to go first, just because I’m female, it reaffirms to me that people are seeing me as a cis woman and not as a trans woman.
    Which is, of course, something that I really, really like.
    It’s hard for me to hate chivalry when it’s a crystal clear indicator that men think I’m a cisgender female.
    However I think though that the real issue here is that I’m still insecure enough in my role as a woman that I need other people to constantly validate my femininity – and chivalry is doing that for me.
    I just wish I didn’t need it so much.

  18. Nancy Shrew
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I believe it’s “amo, amas, amat”, Sir. Not “outdated, insulting, and what-the-fuck-is-this-shit”.

  19. goldaries13
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Odd… My home and careers teacher said the same thing about the rolling pin… in 2000. My response (I was a very witty 12 year old): “But my grandmother said the broom was the husband beater!”
    To be fair, there’s a story in my family about this, where my paternal grandmother’s first husband decided it was a good idea to try and beat her one day. Her response was to chase him up and down the street, beating him with a broom. This was back in the 1930s, by the way, and my grandmother was 5’3″ on a good day and her first husband was at least six feet tall. I kind of wish I could have seen it- by all accounts from my uncles, it was very entertaining.

  20. mcaroline
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    YES! and “how nice of you remain beneath me”

  21. Pantheon
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I remember when I was little a lot of the Loony Toons cartoons had a punch line of a wife beating her husband with a rolling pin. That’s probably the only time I’ve actually seen a rolling pin. Is that just a Loony Toons thing, or a standard meme? Was that ever a standard thing to do with a rolling pin? I’m betting not.

  22. metabonbon
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Chivalry? Not so much about opening doors for ladies, as it was a way to keep power-hungry mercenary knights from starving and murdering the wrong villagers. Oh, and codifying the correct usage of knights’ possessions, such as women.
    For a good time in 30 minutes, see Terry Jones’ wonderful and silly “Medieval Lives”, episode 5, The Knight:
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2065990347248188542
    At around 7:30, he says: “Violence was intrinsic to the cult of chivalry. Even, you might be surprised to learn, violence to women … [quoting Chretien de Troyes] … if the damsel were accompanied by another knight and if it pleased him to give combat to that knight and win the lady by arms, then he might do his will with her, just as he pleased, and no shame or blame whatsoever would attach to him.”
    Good times!

  23. AuntieMay
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Chivalry is positively loathsome.
    It is a reminder that women are weak and powerless.
    It is a reminder of times when men were the complete and total oppressors of women – owners of women, to be more precise.
    I find it alarming and depressing when my female friends insist that men do chivalrous things such as open doors and pay for dates. Such women are so un-evolved… worse than the macho guys they want to date.
    Chivalry is just an old-fashioned excuse to steal the agency from women under the false guise of manners.

  24. daytrippinariel
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Besides the fact that this forces heteronormativity I don’t know if this teacher is really thinking through the consequences of how this could effect teenage girls. In high school I never got attention from boys and was extremely ashamed of my looks and body. I have a feeling that the girls that are “loving” this treatment are the girls that the boys already give a lot of attention. I’m sure the quiet girls are ignored by most of the boys except when they leave to use the bathroom. Maybe this is just based on my own jaded view of high school but I could imagine all of the boys rushing to pull out the chairs of the few girls that get tons of attention and virtually ignoring the other girls…which would just reinforce the awkward growing pains of high school. When I was in high school I wanted less attention, not more, for being a girl.

  25. Marc
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    The following isn’t my comment – but a comment from a friend of mine, who is a Latin teacher. His comment follows my sending the link, asking what he thought.
    For the most part, I agree with the article – these rules of behavior have nothing to do with Latin. In fact, some of these rules seem downright absurd. That being said, as a Latin teacher myself, I understand that we are, as a group, enamored with archaic practices in general. We spend our lives studying and teaching the language of ancient Rome and the medieval tradition of Classical education. Some of us, I am afraid to say, think it to be our job to promote and perpetuate medieval and outdated social mores as well.
    On the other hand, I have also noticed rude and obscene behavior towards young women in my own high school setting. Part of this, I think, stems from the violent hypersexualized image of masculinity present in contemporary urban popular culture and in the social expectations placed on young black males.
    A program stressing appropriate behavior towards the opposite sex is certainly in order, but what this teacher did is most definitely not that.
    I disagree with Jessica, the article’s author on one point, however, and that is her insistence that the standards of behavior be towards all people and not single out women. Since women are often the target of inappropriate and sexually charged behavior, efforts to combat this behavior cannot be gender neutral.

  26. leeraloo
    Posted March 31, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    This is an interesting entry. I’ve never really sat down and thought about how I feel about chivalry from a feminist standpoint. I know I resent the idea that I need things done for me. But, at the same time, it’s nice when a guy on campus holds a door open for me, if only because it’s nice to see people with manners. I feel the same when a girl holds open the door for me – which happens almost as frequently. I suppose I don’t take issue with a teacher setting rules to ensure that his students behave in a decorous, mannered way (and someone above mentioned that the article says he actually switches the rules in other classes), but I do object to a teacher setting rules just for guys to treat girls nicely. In general, I think that the world could use more manners. There are plenty of things guys can do for other guys, girls can do for guys, girls can do for other girls, etc., to show that they have respect for one another. So I don’t see a need for chivalry anymore, and I’d say it’s a good thing if it’s dead as long as it’s replaced by good manners in general. And I just hope I don’t have to meet too many guys who take my resentment of the idea that I need to be coddled (a.k.a. “chivalry”) as a ticket to ride on the bad manners train.

  27. Lydia
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    “Basic consideration for other human beings shouldn’t be gendered. And no, my little girly brain won’t recoil in shock if I glimpse the prices on a menu.”
    Or hear a swear word or see a man wearing a hat. lol. Chivalry isn’t true consideration, it’s a substitute for it. Anyone can learn a formulaic social code. That’s easy. True consideration requires actually seeing people as individuals. It takes a lot more effort to be there for someone, listen to someone, understand and respect someone’s feelings than it does to pull out her chair for her. As far as I’m concerned, nobody gets off that easy.

  28. MartySidmartinson
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Oh see, I got more of the impression it was like, “You are an inferior peoples. But like we feed the minorities at Thanksgiving, let us assist you with that car door occasionally so that we may delude ourselves into thinking we are not dominant manipulators.”

  29. Toongrrl
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    Oh sweetie, thanks for holding the door for me, but I don’t go out with dudes. Especially snot-nosed brats that think that being a decent person deserves some kind of prize.

  30. Tracey T
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Funny you should say this. According to both articles:
    Boys would rush to and compete over assisting certain girls.
    Girls would want certain boys to help them.
    Another thing chivalry does is broadcast to what man a woman belongs or is intended to belong (engagement/courtship). I wonder how respected the girls feel who don’t have boys competing to assist them.

  31. jellyleelips
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    “Chivalry isn’t true consideration, it’s a substitute for it.”
    That needs to be a bumper sticker, a tattoo, a chapter title in a book… SOMETHING. Brilliant.

  32. Nicole
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I don’t think that you should feel that this is conflicting or that you should feel guilty about enjoying the chivalry. I think that many feminist cis women (such as myself) also enjoy a certain level of chivalry, in the sense that it makes one feel pretty and feminine and whatnot and sometimes those are nice things to feel. I mean, when my boyfriend holds the door open for me or gives me his coat when I’m cold or that kind of thing, I understand that it’s an action blanketed with old-fashioned ideas about gender, but I also understand that he’s just expressing his affection for me in his way. It’s a nice feeling. It’s ok to feel that way but still be outraged at this teacher for mandating heteronormative, trans-exclusionary, patriarchal gender roles. You’re human, after all. You are a product of our culture, just like the rest of us, and we can’t turn off socialization.
    Especially since for the reasons you stated, this feeling is, for you, something deep-seated and rooted in identity. That’s an important thing, and you should never feel guilty about it!
    The fact is, you’re conscious of the contradiction between liking this behaviour and also knowing it’s sexist, and consciousness is a really important part of understanding our own socialization. It’s like women like myself who love to wear makeup; I like it because I feel pretty in it, even though I know that I’m conforming to a consumer culture based around telling me I’m not good enough. You’re not condoning the patriarchy by having a feeling.

  33. instrumentjamlord
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Read it a little more closely.
    “Ivanyi said that some of his female students in one class have taken to reversing the roles. Several instances have occurred in which the girls hold the door for the boys and offer to seat them,” he said. “This can get a bit interesting, as the boys do not generally enjoy being treated in such a way.”
    A) The teacher didn’t reverse the roles in the name of equality, some of the female students took it on themselves to turn the tables; and B) the boys recognize that being put on the receiving end of the gallantry somehow diminishes them. Telling, no?

  34. MLEmac28
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Also, it an old rule is that men shouldn’t take their jackets off in front of women (overcoats were fine, but dinner jackets, no). The reason was actually pretty practical initially. Bathing and deodorant weren’t that common in Victorian times, and the lack of air conditioning meant a lot of stinky sweating. Taking your coat off to let the smell out in front of anyone might be considered rude….

  35. Brittany
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Are people really rude enough to not open doors for people? I’ve been doing that all my life along with saying sir and ma’am. Is being polite such an effort these days?

  36. R. Dave
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I think there’s a difference between the historical concept of “chivalry” and the modern meaning of the word. As others have pointed out, actual chivalry was a violent and misogynistic social structure. That gradually evolved into the so-called benevolent sexism that still relegated women to a lesser and weaker status in exchange for the additional pleasantries afforded them.
    When people talk about chivalry today, though, I think they generally mean something closer to simple gendered etiquette. Under that conception, on a cold day, a man might more readily offer his coat to a woman than to another man, but no status trade-off is expected or implied in return. The additional pleasantries have been retained, but not the negative connotations that used to accompany them.

  37. shipwrecklight.myopenid.com
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I have suffered through “teachers” like this. Such behavior is little better than teaching intelligent design in biology. However, I have found this is a formal school, uniforms and all, and so I doubt that the administrators are going to do anything. Assuming they aren’t already encouraging it.
    The comments on the AZ Central article are quite appalling.
    I feel as though it’s suddenly 1950 again. Well, excluding the fact there’s quite a lot of contact emails to be had with a little googling. And you’d better believe I’ve made use of them!

  38. virago
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I find this funny. It seems there is always some sexist guy who “claims” that some mythical man-hating feminist yelled at him for opening a door for her. Even my ex-husband claimed this, and he was definitely a sexist. Somehow, I think some guy claimed this decades ago, and since than, it’s morphed in an epidemic of man-hating feminists yelling at poor men for “being chivalrous”. My ex-husband attended a church as a boy where the preacher gave a sermon on this subject. I’m sure that’s where my ex really got this story and just substituted himself into it. I’ve never seen any woman yell at someone else because they opened a door for her. That said, I open the door for EVERYONE-man, woman, young, old, disabled, whatever. I don’t like to exit a public place and have some rude person let the door swing in my face, and I don’t do that to other people. I haven’t yelled at anyone, nor have I been yelled at either. The only time I got remotely mad is when I was walking in the front door of my apartment complex, and a young couple with a baby in a stroller were right behind me. I held the door open so as not to allow it to swing shut on the baby who was being pushed through first by the mother. I thought the guy (who had his hands free) would at least grab the door from me to hold it open for his wife so I could continue on my way. Instead, they both walked through the doorway with their baby and didn’t even glance at me or acknowledge me while I stood there holding the door! Not even a thank you! Anyway, I said in an annoyed voice,” Nice to know people think I’m just the doorman!” They realized that they were being rude, turned red in the face, and said, “We’re so sorry! Thanks for holding the door” I don’t think they meant to be rude or anything. They were so preoccupied in their own conversation, they just really didn’t think about it. Anyway, they went out of their way not to be rude like that in the future, and I just continued to hold the door open for them if I entered the building first. It has nothing to do with chivalry. It’s called good manners.

  39. makomk
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Yeah, a rolling pin as the weapon of a housewife seems to be a standard if dying meme, though it could well be Looney Tunes that started it for all I know. (Some quick googling suggests it even made the Wikipedia page on rolling pins. The TV Tropes entry is less helpful – their best coverage is of newer stuff.)

  40. kandela
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I guess I have a different definition of chivalry to most people, but it is the one in the dictionary.
    Here is the relevant OED definition of chivalrous (the definition of chivalry is next to useless in this context): 3. Of, belonging to, or characteristic of the ideal knight; possessing all the virtues attributed to the Age of Chivalry; characterized by pure and noble gallantry, honour, courtesy, and disinterested devotion to the cause of the weak or oppressed. Sometimes, ‘gallant, or disinterestedly devoted in the service of the female sex’; sometimes, in ridicule = ‘quixotic’.
    There are three meanings wrapped up in this definition:
    (i) Of, belonging to, or characteristic of the ideal knight; possessing all the virtues attributed to the Age of Chivalry; characterized by pure and noble gallantry, honour, courtesy, and disinterested devotion to the cause of the weak or oppressed.
    (ii) Sometimes, ‘gallant, or disinterestedly devoted in the service of the female sex’;
    (iii) sometimes, in ridicule = ‘quixotic’.
    Treating the last first; the quixotic meaning isn’t relevant here.
    Now to number (ii). The examples of chivalry people (usually men) often pull out aren’t in fact chivalrous at all – quite the opposite in fact. The problem with opening doors and pulling out seats is that these actions are not actually chivalrous. They are not because they are condescending actions and therefore not of service to the female sex. On the other hand a male actively involved in the feminist movement could be considered chivalrous since he is acting out of devotion to the female sex, ostensibly without benefit to himself.
    Personally though, I don’t use chivalry in this context. I would rather focus on definition (i) since it can be applied to either gender equally.
    Looking now at number (i). Both men and women are capable of chivalry in this sense. Both men and women are capable of honour, nobility and gallantry. In this sense opening the door for someone who has their hands full may be considered gallant, whether that person is male or female that is being chivalrous. It can be considered equally noble for a girl or a boy to buy/pick their date a rose. I’d quite like a flower from my date (if I had one). That’s an expression of affection.
    Chivalry is a good thing. People who abuse the name of chivalry to justify “benevolent sexism” are in fact the antithesis of the chivalrous.

  41. Tracey T
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    The problem with that is that using what we now have as the definition for a term that is rooted in a concept of “nobility” divorces it of all of its historical and even contemporary meanings and the legacy from which it comes. People have been considered chivalorous by definition even though they did not in fact uphold the poor and weak, etc. I think applying that definition is problematic because it romanticizes the code of chivalry and divorces it from what it was suppose to do, what it did and continues to do, and from the fact that “upholding virtue” often included anihilating what could rightfully be considered the poor and oppressed. The idealization of the idea of nobility, etc. and knights considering what they actually did, is hugely problematic. It looks more at story books and fairy tales than reality.

  42. southern students for choice
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Would it be too far out to suggest that if one is trying to look at it in a positive light, it might be good to look at chivarly is something like BDSM, something that’s “good” only if there is explicit and elaborate steps made to ensure consent?
    It seems that a lot of the reason that feminists are concerned about chivalry is that it is in different ways oppressive and exploitative of women and to men’s benefit. But proponents would obviously say it’s not and it’s really the opposite, and it’s mean to be consensual and to the benefit of both parties.
    It’s similar with BDSM, to the extent that one understands what people really do (or ought to do) who are into the practice and social subculture do to prepare for their encounters, one’s concerns are minimized about there being truely “sadism” or “masochism” (terms adapted maybe inappropriately from psychology) much less “bondage” (which is a crime like slavery) involved.

  43. kandela
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Fair point.
    “[...]divorces it from what it was suppose to do, what it did and continues to do[...]”
    Though I don’t think what it was supposed to do assist in the subjugation of women.

  44. instrumentjamlord
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Exactly.
    I hold doors for people if: a) they appear to have their hands full, or b) the door would be swinging shut just in time to hit them as they go through. If a person is more than about 5 seconds behind me, I let it go, because standing there holding the door for foolishly long periods is practically exhorting them to hurry the hell up, which kind of undoes the original courtesy. On the other hand, if they are struggling with a load, I will wait longer.
    I do this for anyone. It has nothing to do with the gender of the person. I’m not being chivalrous, I’m being polite. Frankly, I expect the same behavior from others; small things like that are the lubrication in the social machine. If someone let the door swing shut in my face, I’d be annoyed at their lack of consideration.
    This idea that this is something that men do for women is a leftover from times when women were literally burdened with ridiculous fashions. At that time it made the exact practical sense that causes me to do it today. A woman in a hoop skirt and corset effectively has her hands full, and thus needs some small assistance with doors, seating, et cetera. Obviously, a man who lets his partner struggle in such straits is a cad. Times change, and needs change with the times, but the behavior hangs on, robbed of its real use, and somehow gaining mythic proportions as it ages. Instead of being ungentlemanly for letting your partner struggle, you become ungentlemanly for not following tradition and offering aid that is no longer needed.
    Thus do good manners become etiquette.

  45. https://certifi.ca/eean
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Since its a Latin class it would’ve kind of made sense if they were doing not just old-school but ancient rules of chivalry. Require the female students to be escorted by their brothers? I’m not even sure what it would entail. It would be educational!
    But chivalry circa-idealized-50s/Victorian is just silly.

  46. LindsMarie
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I completely agree. I feel like men’s chivalrous acts towards women a sign of disrespect, whereas good manners, in general, are respectful. I will happily hold a door for a woman or man and help anyone who needs it; however, if a man rushes to open a door in front of me, I feel it’s a slight to me, like I’m incapable of doing it myself, especially when they let it slam in the face of the man behind me.
    Why can’t we all just be polite and respectful to one another, despite sex, gender, age, etc?

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