Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chivalry: A Thing of the Past?

By punemsexesena

A research article (in ‘Psychology of Women’) termed chivalry to be “benevolent sexism”. It says, “Benevolent sexism is using ‘he’ to refer to an unknown person, helping a woman carry her shopping bags, or choosing to drive on long-distance journeys. It implies a woman cannot do these things without a man’s help”. I do know women who find it condescending; they’re independent, can ‘afford’ their bill & are capable of doing stuff on their own. The article calls it paternalistic treatment, ‘a woman being cherished or protected by men’.

I am one woman who likes being protected & cherished by a man. There. I said it.

I've had men who opened doors for me, or waited for me to enter the lift, or let me go ahead first into a room, or pulled the chair, or paid the bill on our first meeting. I’m not offended when a man offers to carry a heavy shopping bag or stands like a china wall between me & an unruly crowd in a bus or a cinema hall. I’ve come out feeling good about the experience & nice about him. I’m a lady & would like to be treated like one. And if a man is man enough to do that, I’m impressed. For all my “modern” ideas, I love feeling special & when a man does that, muah to him.

I remember once, Sathya, his friends, & I, had gone to this waterfalls place. And me being me, when I see a rock, I want to climb. It’s like a dog wanting to piss whenever it sees a pole! I set off; excited, & started climbing a rock. I must’ve slipped a bit because I saw his hands stretching out to me. I reacted saying, “HOGO (Go ya) I know what I’m doing.” He & his friends were amused; their instinctive reaction is to help a girl in a situation like this. He backed off & waited for me to join him at the top. And I did; on my own. At times like these, I don’t need a man to do the “helping a damsel in distress” drill. It’s simply not required. It wasn’t a social situation but an adventurous one. Formal situations are different. In a social set-up, if a man offers to get me a drink or a plate or a napkin or a chair, I find it endearing.

I don’t necessarily expect a man to do all this. But if he does, & not just for me; but for any woman, young or old, irrespective of his romantic inclinations, I’d be pleased by the gesture. I appreciate men who do it naturally, without trying to make an impression. I don’t know why feminists cry foul over this; after all, there are greater issues to fight for. This is not one of them. I don’t think a man who pays the bill thinks you’re a beggar & can’t afford your food. Similarly, holding the door open for someone coming in after you is courtesy. And if a man sees me home at night it’s because he wants to ensure I reach safely. That’s no reason for a war of the genders.

I dislike women who try to impress an unsuspecting guy with their daintiness & trick him into being extra nice; the ones who pretend to be delicate darlings; those who walk all fragile & fairy-like when draped in a sari & expect a man to hold their pallu or purse or mobile or head; or those who drink water like its ‘amrith’, one drop at a time; or those who eat meat like this is their 1st time (back home they’d devour an entire animal with just 1 hand) or……you get the picture right? Pls don’t try to be like a lady; if you are not, to hell with it. Jut be yourself, be whatever or whoever you’re – Tomb Raider, Cat woman, Kill Bill – but don’t fake being feminine just to extract chivalry from a gentleman & be treated like a VVIP at his expense.

Chivalry is simple courtesy. And it’d work both ways: if a man holds the door open for you, say a ‘thank you’ in return. Chivalry & good manners should be in BOTH the genders. Wish the concept was not limited to the things men do for women but extended to include things that people do for ‘othe
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