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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Chivalry: Opening doors etc (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Chivalry: Opening doors etc
Beppie
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In the "sexism from nice males" thread someone brought up the topic of chivalry, and why some women get annoyed when a man opens a door for them, or offers to carry their packages, etc.

This issues is a different from the way I was talking about sexism in that thread, where I was talking primarily about sexist comments that are explicitly non-respectful. However, to a lot of males, doing things like opening doors for a woman is seen as a sign of respect, and they can feel quite hurt when a woman rejects the gesture.

Personally, I don't think chivalry needs to be gender restricted. If I see a person struggling to open a door because their hands are full, I think the kindest thing to do is to open the door for them. Likewise, if I am the first person to open a door, I will usually hold it open until all people coming in behind me have entered (or someone offers to take over). If I am struggling to carry something and a person offers to take some of the load, I will gratefully accept. Likewise, I will try to help people who seem to be struggling themselves.

However, gender-restricted chivalry annoys me. While I was an undergraduate at university, I was friends with a couple of guys who would always speed up their walk when a door was coming up so that they could be the one to open it. This disrupted conversation, and was completely unnecessary, as it would occur when I was totally unencumbered, and therefore quite capable of opening the door should I have reached it a fraction of a second sooner.

Frankly, I feel like it's a bit condescending for a man to always insist on being the person who opens the door when both people are equally capable of doing so. However, as I said before, a lot of men do this out of a genuine desire to do the nicest, most respectful thing possible, and as such, it's difficult to convince anyone that it's not a practise that I like.

Any thoughts on the best way to go about putting an end to gender-based chivalry?

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mellygirl
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I actually don't want the gender-based chivalry to end. I realize that I'm really old fashioned on part of the gender roles issues. I live with three guys and each of them always try to open my doors and carry things for me (the carrying stuff is mostly because I'm pretty weak and they're all pretty buff). It's not that I need them to open the doors, and they know that. They just enjoy it, so I accept their gesture of respect, and it makes me feel pretty cool.

Even if I didn't like the chivalry, I don't know as though there is any way to end it... except for every mother to instill other ideals into their sons. I don't see the problem with guys opening my doors, but I will agree with you that I hate it when we are mid conversation and they run ahead to beat me to the door... if I get there first, I open it. But generally, when I know the guy I'm with prefers to open my doors for me, I slow down slightly so he can just barely beat me to it. [Smile]

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Biguy(formerly AmberTS)
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Honestly, I think it's just manners...

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feefiefofemme
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I think chivalry, coming from someone of any gender, is lovely. It's simply good manners to hold the door open for the people behind you, or to offer to help someone carry their things if their arms are full. However, as you said Beppie, it's not polite if it gets in the way of conversation and/or you sacrifice other aspects of politeness to be chivalrous. For instance, I used to know a guy who would actually push me out of the way, just so he could open doors for me. Also, the same guy, when I would try to do things like that for myself, would give me a dirty look and tell me that I shouldn't because I'm a girl. It's hardly polite to tell someone that they shouldn't open a door because of their gender, and thus the politeness of holding the door open for them is forfeit.

I've always thought the best way to deal with people who are just a little too chivalrous is to simply explain your feelings about it. I don't really know what else you can do besides that, besides running ahead to open doors for yourself, which would defeat the purpose.

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LilBlueSmurf
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Gender-based chivalry REALLY ticks me off.

I agree that it is just good manners to do things for other people ... Open the door, offer your seat, offer to carry things when you can see someone is obviously struggling ... I love it. I love 'random acts of kindness'.

From what i understand of chivalry, men do/did these things for women because they think/thought women were the weaker sex and needed to be taken care of, etc. I don't want anyone doing anything for me because they think they have to, or should, or because they think i can't do it myself.

I think encouraging and participating in gender-based chivalry enables people to continue thinking women are weaker and in need of being taken care of. I don't belive it, i've never believed it, and i'm not going to allow someone to treat me as such.

So, how to stop it ... I guess you really need to start small. Talk to people about it. If they think women can't (or shouldn't) open their own doors and pull out their own chairs, there's probably other things they think women can't (or shouldn't) do, and they need to be educated [Razz]

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Heather
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Just because:

Do know that the term "chivalry" IS gender-based, meaning very specifically male behaviour towards women, or as a knight, a male-based and male-only position. It is also very much all about protection and defense of the weak.

So, there absolutely IS a difference between chivalry, and plain old kindness and good manners, applied and performed unilaterally.

(Personally, my approach when this stuff is put on me, by men, is to do as good a job I can of being both gracious to the kindness, but also clear that if it's about my gender, only, it's not so appreciated. So, if a man holds one door at the market open for me, I'll usually just make a point of holding the next door open for him, or, if I see he's got more bags in his hands than me, to offer to help him to his car with that heavy load. [Smile] )

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Nailo
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Not just opening doors... I have a male friend who INSISTS on paying for everything for me when we go out. He had payed for me around 5 times already, so once we went to the movies and I told him I was paying for him. And he said "no you're not...it's not right...that's not the way things work..it's not ethical...I'm going to tackle you if you pay for me!!". I beat him to the ticket box (after he tackled me) and payed for him, and he was so freaked out about it (in a funny way) that we "had" to go out to dinner one day so he could pay for me.

I tried explaining to him that I didn't need him to pay for me when I had money, that I wanted to pay for him because he had payed for me so many times. But this friend is particularly stubbourn, so it was futile. Honestly, I let it slide because it's just him, and he's a really good friend. But generally, I hate "chivalry", I think it's sexist. Why does a man HAVE to do those things for a woman, but it's not "ethical" if a woman pays for a man? Definitely, talk about it; especially since I know lots of guys who feel "forced" to be that way. Many a guy I know has actually felt relieved that he doesn't need to carry everything for me [Smile]

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joyfulgirl
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i agree with most of the above about male chivalry towards females, but its different in the context of a lesbian butch/femme dynamic.

for those who aren't familiar with lesbian culture, butch/femme is a dynamic where one person is very masculine or butch, and the other feminine. depending on the person or couple these gender roles can be as loose or ridgid as feels right to the people involved.

i grew up with a butch mom and a femme mom, so i know quite a bit about butch/femme chivalry. its totally different than if a biological man decides to do lots of things for a woman because he thinks she's weak and needs protection. b/f chivalry is about mutual respect and caring.

male chivalry is no so great because it invokes the societal power dynamic between men and women (in other words sexism) which is very destructive. even if it seems nice in the moment. when you have two women, that gender power dynamic is automatically flattened and neutralized. then, if the two women are a butch and a femme they have chosen to recreate their own power dynamic because it makes them feel comfortable.

i also identify as a femme lesbian, and when my butch mom opens doors for me i know that its not because she thinks i'm weak, but because it goes along with her butch masculinity and she appreciates my femininity. and i don't feel offended, i feel secure and taken care of.

when chivalry is between two people of relitively the same societal power level, and mutually agreed upon, either by discussion or assumption based on chosen gender roles, it can be quite nice.

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Heather
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It can be different...and sometimes, it can also not be all that different at all.

I've dated more than one butch woman who absolutely was basing chivalry on some forms of misogyny and sexism. Being female or lesbian doesn't mean women can't be sexist or misogynist (oh, would that it did!), especially given the fact that women still define their own roles, and there are PLENTY of interpersonal and general butch/femme dynamics and identities which are by no means egalitarian, nor based on the idea that all women are of equal strength,power or agency.

CAN b/f "chivalry" be about other things? For sure. Is it always, just because there are women involved, or because of some agreement (which there isn't in broad dyke culture) on HOW butch/femme roles are defined? Nope.

But again, we need to remember that it's entirely possible that in some aspects of this discussion, the term "chivalry" simply may not be the right term to use, because, by tradition and literal definition, it is not ABOUT two people of an equal power, nor about anyone executing it who isn't male, or in some way, masculine-identified.

[ 06-11-2006, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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joyfulgirl
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good points, my experiance of butch chivalry definately isn't universal and i wasn't implying it was.

and no, in broad dyke culture there isn't really any agreement to participate in chivalry, but sometimes individual people will agree on a certain act. like my last gf was a femme as well so we would split certain "chivalrous" acts and talk about it. i would light all her cigarettes (we both quit smoking because its gross!) and she would get the doors.

maybe chivalry isn't the right term for this. but then, what is? its goes a little deeper than regular kindness and manners because it fits into a certain power dynamic. yes, that power dynamic can be a throw back to a more destructive and sexist dynamic between a man and a woman, but it can exist between two women without being sexist and destructive. not just because they're women, but because of communication and healthy relationship skills.

here's a question. do you think that chivalry between a man and a woman can be good for same reasons that it sometimes works with butches and femmes? i'm not sure what i think on that yet.

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Heather
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quote:
do you think that chivalry between a man and a woman can be good for same reasons that it sometimes works with butches and femmes?
That's an awesome question, and yeah, not so easy to answer.

But personally, I'm not so sure that chivalry really IS as workable as you feel is is in dynamics between women, in butch/femme settings. The older I get, I have to say that I'm not so sure butch/femme is even such a great thing, because in many respects, it's just one more thing that can lock us into the idea that gender is binary, that gender is male/female, when it just doesn't have to be, and when it isn't so great for a lot of us that it is. And heck: when I'm outside of heterosexism, when I'm among women, the last thing I want is to find I'm still participating in dynamics that in many ways, were modeled on heterosexual and/or male/female dynamics.

For instance, I don't really like being seen as butch or as femme, no matter what relationship I'm in, and no matter the gender of who I'm in a relationship with. I straddle aspects of both those roles and archetypes, and neither one of them, by themselves, has ever felt true to me as an indentifier for myself. In the dyke community, in many respects, I found that butch/femme dynamics and many of the assumed roles that followed weren't workable for me and a lot of other women in dyke community and relationships.

Again, too, defining things like lighting someone's smokes and holding doors open as chivalrous is even pretty iffy. I think one can do those things for chivalrous REASONS -- i.e., I am a man and you are a woman, so by this code of conduct, I should do this -- but that's not the only thing that would incline a person to basic gestures of kindness and helpfulness. I'm going to, and always have, hold a door open for anyone when I'm the first one there at the door and someone is behind me, when I'm at a door with two hands and the other person's are full, when the person behind me seems to have some handicap or disability to easily get the door. And I'd expect that any other person of any gender would do same for me. That's not chivalry: that's plain old community and caring for others around us in very basic ways.

[ 06-12-2006, 11:40 AM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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ImmortalAmethyst
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I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they're just trying to be polite when some of those things happen. If a boy opens a door for me once in awhile I'll thank them, but if they open a door for me every time we approach a door, I'll kindly but firmly tell them they don't have to do that. If they offer to carry my things and I am able to carry them easily myself, I'll simply say "No thanks." Sure boys can try to be polite by being chivalrous, but it doesn't mean we have to humor them by accepting all their gestures. If they believe that the rationale behind the 'chivalry' is that that is what men 'must' do for women, then I would become upset and find that a bit offensive.
Sometimes men feel a great pressure to be chivalrous, however. My boyfriend always tries to pay for me when we go out, but I don't think that's fair. I want to go on a date with him just as much as he wants to go on one with me; why should he have to pay for both of us? When he tries to pay, I don't let him. Both my parents and his parents think that he should pay for me, though, and they lightly disapprove, which isn't very fair to him.

So, while I think occasional acts of 'chivalry' can be nice, the practice isn't needed and *shouldn't* be a code.

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cheer
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maybe this is because i'm old fashioned and not too big on feminism, but I think it's sweet, the fact that he would go out of his way to open a door to a building or car, or if he wants to pay for me when we go out. Granted i do pay for myself a bit just because sometimes I can be expensive [Razz] and i don't think it's fair to stick him with a huge bill.
Infact when i go out with my girlfriends I like it when a guy offers to buy me a drink. it makes me feel like he noticed me out of everyone else in the room (even though i'm prolly the 5th girl he's hit one [Razz] ) and i get a free drink out of the deal. I'm not going to go home with him or even dance with him necasarily, I'm just having a drink. and thats just one less i have to buy during the night.
I don't need a man to make me feel good about myself, i just think it's sweet.
but agian this is prolly just because i'm old fashioned.

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Heather
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I'm not seeing the "sweetness" in men buying women drinks in hopes they'll be more likely to go home with them for sex.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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pwk23
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I had a boyfriend who insisted on paying for EVERYTHING, and it got annoying. Even when I had money, and I knew he was tight, and he suggested we go out somewhere, I'd offer to pay and he'd get mad and say it wasn't "right" and that if I was going to pay, then we just wouldn't go on whatever date. He was a very gentle guy, so the fact that he'd start to go bonkers over something like that would unnerve me, and I'd give in (plus, I was only 17 or so). I'd try to tell him that it bothered me when he wanted to pay for me because he felt obliged to, not because he WANTED to, but then he'd insist that he WANTED to...even during times, like I said, where he was broke and I had some extra cash on hand. When things grew stressful between us, he would begin to buy me more expensive, random gifts and things, and it would feel like he was trying to buy my love back. Not romantic, fellas.

What annoys me a lot, and this happens on campus more often than I'd have expected, is when I'm in front of a group of people and I get to a door and hold it open for them--and then a guy in the group proceeds to reach behind me, grab the door, and usher me in in front of him, usually pushing me just ahead of or INTO his group, making a more awkward mess of things than if he'd just walked through the door to begin with. I know he means well, but still--it irks me, like women aren't allowed to hold doors open for men.

I've noticed this small bias even in my own family, I remember my mom telling me to hold doors open for others so I wouldn't accidentily slam it in their faces, but a year or two ago I heard her telling my younger brother, "Whenever you see a woman, be sure to hold the door open for her, because that's what guys are supposed to do." My mom is pretty headstrong and independent, and has NEVER instilled any sort of obliged "gender roles" in us--she never said a word when she caught me building Lego ramps and buildings and crashing my Hot Wheels into them, running over my Barbies in the process, nor when she found my brother brushing the hair of one of my My Little Ponies--so this comment, from her, puzzled me. I wonder if 'chivarly' is just that ingrained into society.

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Beppie
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I was thinking about this topic last night, and gender equality in general, and I wondering if anyone else thinks that things like chivalry are a way of trading off rights for privileges?

For instance, for the privilege of not paying for dinner, the woman ends up with less autonomy over her relationship? When I look back over instances of guys doing chivalrous actions, it also strikes me that it has often been used to stop me speaking up about feminism: for instance, I've had door opening guys open a couple of doors for me, and then proceed to say how their politeness proves that feminism is wrong and nasty, though I could still be a feminist if I was a "good" feminist who acted all weak and helpless-- essentially, defusing my right to define feminism on my terms.

The paying for things really bothers me on a personal level too. I was once out with a guy and he said he wanted to go to a particular restaurant. I looked at the menu and said I'd rather not because I wouldn't be able to afford anything in there, so I'd just have to watch him eat. He proceeeded to get very mad at me, because I hadn't assumed that he would pay for me. Apparently the assumption that I would pay for myself was terribly unreasonable. This person also got tetchy when I bought him a hot chocolate worth about three dollars.

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Ecofem
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I'm not a fan of "chivalry": actually, certain actions make me want to barf, for a lack of better words. I like to treat friends, regardless of gender, to drinks or a meal occasionally. However, I'm just not down with the idea of a stranger in a bar (man or woman) buying me a drink; call me jaded, but it's too obvious a sign of trying to get into my pants, as Heather pointed out.

But I believe in common courtesy and politeness 100%, such as holding the door for the person behind you, helping someone with a heavy load, etc. I currently live in Germany, where the mindset on all this is a bit different. The North American (and elsewhere) concept of common courtesy is superceded by an emphasis on leaving people alone. Which I sometimes like and which sometimes drives me crazy, although I try to chalk it up as a cultural difference and not get mad.

But I'll admit to being pretty T-ed off when an older woman with a cane struggles to get on the bus with no free seats. Of a group of four seats where three are filled by young men and one is filled by a young woman, it is often the young woman who gets up. While the guys are too engrossed in their own stuff or staring at my a**, for example. (Ahh, venting!)

However, I guess this can be helpful for figuring out niceness. Sorry about your experiences, Beppie, but I guess it helps you cross off potential guys off your list. [Smile]

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September
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Ecofem, where in Germany are you? I'm in the south-east and I've never really felt as though people were 'leaveing me alone'. I have a male friend who's offended when I don't let him pay for my dinner/ticket at the theatre/etc and every time someone elderly gets on the bus, approximately 5 students jump up at once to offer their seats.

I feel really uncomfortable in the face of 'chivalry'. If a guy holds the door open for me I am never sure if he is doing it to be polite -and would do the same for, say, an older lady- or if he is doing it because I am young and pretty. As long as I am not carrying three full grocery bags, I'd really prefer opening my own doors. I do believe in common courtesy and I often hold the door open for others if I see them struggling, or just because I am the first to reach the door. I've done this to guys on occasion, as well, and more than once I've been given an odd look in return.

I started a discussion with the afore-mentioned friend about chivalry, and that I believe it's founded on discrimination because it assumes that a woman is too weak to take care of herself by virtue of her gender alone. He started protesting but when I asked him what he thinks is behind it, he couldn't come up with a better explanation.

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summergoddess
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Chivalry has been rooted in society for a long time. Parents tend to teach this as it has been passed on from their own generation and so they believe that it should continue on with their own kids especially their sons.

Door opening can be part of simply politeness, and could be by choice as well. There are guys who do want to do this because they like to do it, not because it's part of their "manly" form. I've seen woman who practice this on the guys too, so it's not just male chilvary.

My husband used to be the one paying for everything in the beginning of our relationship because it was part of his way of his love towards me, but then eventually it came to partnership where we both pay or take turns paying for one another. He still opens the door for me, treats me to dinner every once in a while, showers me with roses and etc.

I have also another guy friend who insists paying for everything when we hang out because he wants to no matter what I say, but I pay for us at times because I want to, not just because i feel guilty.

I open the doors, and do stuff for my girlfriends the same way that I treat my husband and the guys too because that's the way I am. I'm thoughtful, caring, affectionate and sweet.

My husband knows that I can take care of myself and I am very independant and i am the same way about my husband and with all of our friends. We practice this out of love, not because it's set in stone with society. So it's by choice, really.

Chivalry really doesn't bother me, my husband or my friends as far we're all concerned. We don't see it as a gender issue or part of the norm in society.

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Ecofem
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quote:
Originally posted by September:
Ecofem, where in Germany are you? I'm in the south-east and I've never really felt as though people were 'leaveing me alone'. I have a male friend who's offended when I don't let him pay for my dinner/ticket at the theatre/etc and every time someone elderly gets on the bus, approximately 5 students jump up at once to offer their seats.

I'm in northern Germany, which is definitely known for being a bit "colder" than the southern parts. I think region, city size, situation (uni vs. work), etc. definitely play a big role.

I've lived in the southeast before, as well, and would say people are more outgoing. Although I felt the interpersonal distance was still greater there than in the US. Then again, I'm also from the mid-Atlantic southern US, where people are apparently much more gregarious than New England, for example.

As for you friends, I have to agree. It's amazing what lengths Germans will go to for their friends; that's certainly something great. However, based on experiences and cultural comparsion discussions, I have to wonder if that particular friend who always insists on treating you doesn't have a crush on you. [Wink]

And now to go even more off topic, I found these articles to be a good read: on one hand quite clicheéd, but on the other hand with a grain of truth. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,411291,00.html

OK, sorry for derailing and back to the "CHIVALRY" discussion. [Smile]

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-Lauren-
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I guess I'll be one of the few on this thread who has no problem with chivalrous actions, to an extent. [Smile]

I have no problem with the fact that terms and behavior that were originally based on sexist ideas are used politely today. I've heard, for example, that "lady" is a term with sexist roots, but to me it is a word of great respect if used in the polite context. The same goes for chivalry; I don't really see it as a sign of me being too weak to do something, but as a polite gesture. I do the same for people on the street of either gender.

I do get slightly annoyed if a guy insists on paying for everything, especially if he's broke. But if he was raised thinking it's the polite thing to do, I'm understanding.

So really, I think it's the context in which words and actions are used that dictates whether I take offense or not. And it seems to me that most men mean genuine courtesy by these actions. (Buying drinks in bars are another story entirely.)

But of course, if asked to stop by women who are bothered by these actions, doing so is equally courteous.

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Heather
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quote:
The same goes for chivalry; I don't really see it as a sign of me being too weak to do something, but as a polite gesture. I do the same for people on the street of either gender.
The thing is though, women CAN'T practice "chivalry," because it IS based on gender, and it is about male behaviour towards women. Opening doors for people in general out of courtesy is courtesy, not chivalry.

So, when some of y'all talk about the intent being different, you have to understand that if the intent is different, if it isn't about gender, then it isn't chivalry.

Historically, the point of chivalry was, in many ways, to be sure to constantly establish who was in the knightly position and who was not; who had the power between the genders and who did not. While certainly, it's nice to have the door held open for you, and I imagine it was way back when, what comes along with it -- mainly, in some way, you acknowleding that you are less capable, or there are situations in which you'll play at being less capable to make someone else feel more capable? Worth really thinking about.

And often, "chivalry" isn't even just about gender and sex, but the OTHER kind of sex. If you had two women coming to two doors, and one man, is he going to open the door for the women closest to his sexual ideal, or furthest away from it?

In many ways, as a feminist activist, however small an act of resistance it is, I want to do my level best to do even the little daily things I can to say, "I am working towards an equality between us, and that equality is more important than my comofrt, your ego or mine."

(On your last post, Lauren, I don't know what historically would make "lady" sexist -- really, that's about classism more than sexism.)

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confused_boy
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It seems that this discussion is dominated by female voices at the moment, so I apologize if I am unwelcome visitor at the moment. But if anyone's interested I'd be happy to grant some insight on the male perspective!

First off, I think distinguishing between chivalry and courtesy in these modern times is an exercise in semantics, but I won’t deny that semantics can at times be a fun game to play. In the etymological sense, chivalry does indeed refer to knightly behavior and a gentleman’s code of conduct; however I am hard pressed to think of many men who subscribe to a life of true chivalry, aside from say, Paul McCartney ;-). In the medieval form chivalry is sexist and gender specific, but that particular manifestation of chivalry has long been obsolete, even in its mildest form- at least since the 60’s. Society has made great leaps and bounds in equalizing the gender platform, of course there are still gaps to fill, but it’s undeniable that progress has been made. Today, one can be chivalrous- generous and kind, regardless of gender. In fact, I’d encourage anyone to look up chivalrous in a dictionary, and you will see that its meaning has evolved to fit the generation.

Manners and being polite as stated by most of you are common courtesy. I will help anyone who’s struggling to open a door, or lift something whether or not they’re male or female. I have never thought to myself that a woman was any less able to open a door, or frail and incapable. I just don’t want people to get a door slammed in their face or have to drop what they’re doing, as I wouldn’t want to either. Granted, I am a heterosexual man, and if a woman who I think is pretty is approaching a door, which may not have been at risk of getting slammed by the door anyway- I may wait an extra few seconds for her…why? Because sometimes it feels nice to be noticed, big deal, its an instinctive human desire.

I think the complication arises in the feminist community due to the fact that some men can’t control their hormones, and become aggressive to the point of agitation. It’s totally uncouth to be pushing someone out of your way to open a door, aside from being rude; I would definitely consider that harassment if someone is doing that every time when you have already expressed discontent. In essence, what I am trying to say is that chivalry in the modern sense has a tendency to rear its ugly head in the form of unsuppressed testosterone as opposed to being the consequence of a maladaptive social construct.

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Heather
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quote:
I think the complication arises in the feminist community due to the fact that some men can’t control their hormones, and become aggressive to the point of agitation.
I can't speak for other feminist women, but speaking for myself, this isn't just an issue when men get aggressive.

Personally, when looking at it from a feminist vantage point, it's a matter of not wanting to support/nurture traditions which are based in -- and in large part, continue in -- sexism. And that's the case whether someone is aggressive or not in any action which is based solely or primarily on the idea that something needs to be done for me based on a power structure in which my gender is weaker and subordinate.

In many ways, what chivalry is and was is "Look, let me make this limited gesture for you that is subordinate to show that I appreciate your unlimited subordinance in all else, and every gesture you are obliged to make because your status, via your gender or class, is inferior to mine." Gee, thanks!

So, even without aggression? Still a problem from this feminist's perspective.

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Jim007
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
Personally, when looking at it from a feminist vantage point, it's a matter of not wanting to support/nurture traditions which are based in -- and in large part, continue in -- sexism.

Yes, chivalry is obviously based in sexism. I think its inaccurate, however, to claim that chivalry in the modern sense, which I'm defining as acts of courtesy directed at anyone by anyone, is based on sexism. Knighthood obviously plays no part in our culture, and therefore using the term to refer to an act of courtesy by a modern, living person, makes little sense. Therefore, throwing chivalry (acts of courtesy) out the window because it used to be based on sexism, seems tantamount to not supporting democracy in America because originally it too was based on sexism (I'm referring to only allowing white, property-owning males the right to vote). Although chivalry was originally based on sexism, it shouldn't be eliminated because sexism no longer plays a role in it.

Here's why:

quote:
And that's the case whether someone is aggressive or not in any action which is based solely or primarily on the idea that something needs to be done for me based on a power structure in which my gender is weaker and subordinate.
Most guys, however, don't open doors because they feel that women are weak or subordinate. Honestly, I think it'd be pretty difficult to find a guy who actually believed that a woman would have considerable trouble opening a door (doors just don't come that heavy). Rather, the majority of males open doors because it is a small inconvenience, albeit a small one (for everyone, not just women).

Are most acts of modern chivalry just limited gestures? Yes, but any decent guy (and thats most of us) don't intend for them to be "subordinate to show that I appreciate your unlimited subordinace in all else." Rather, they're gestures designed to alleviate small inconveniences to show that we're a nice person.

However, if a girl I was interacting with told me that one of my chivalrous actions was offensive I wouldn't be insulted because I felt that she was asking me to violate a longstanding tradition. Rather, I'd be insulted/upset because she was rejecting a nice gesture intended to alleviate an inconvenience. I'd say that most guys fall into that category as well.

If chivalrous acts were still displays of superiority that would notify the reciever of his/her subordinate status, then everyone, including men, would be insulted whenever someone else held a door for them. Since in modern times chivalrous actions aren't designed to do so, women really shouldn't take offense when they're on the recieving end of one (and I think most don't). Because really, if a guy actually believes that you aren't strong enough to open the door yourself, then that guy really isn't very intelligent (as mentioned above, though, it'd be difficult to find a guy that did actually believe that).

[ 06-19-2006, 01:28 AM: Message edited by: Jim007 ]

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Heather
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You know, telling a woman what she should or should not take offense to or object to doesn't make for a strong case in your argument here.

And to be frank, the vague enjoyment I find in the ironic aside, I don't want anyone telling me what I should or should not object to, thank you very much.

Defining chivalry as plain old courtesy? Eh. Confused boy suggested looking this up in a dictionary with the notion it's been redfined in recent times, and I sure the heck am not seeing it and this girl's got a LOT of dictionaries. Why not call courtesy courtesy? Why try and make "courtesy" that was and almost always still is about gender, when it's real courtesy at all, chivalry? You say YOU define it that way, and that's swell, but that isn't how it IS defined, and I don't see howy it'd be any more reasonable to say it's defined differently for you than it would be for me to say that, for the sake of argument, I defined mariage as legalized prostitution.

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Jim007
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quote:
Defining chivalry as plain old courtesy? Eh. Confused boy suggested looking this up in a dictionary with the notion it's been redfined in recent times, and I sure the heck am not seeing it and this girl's got a LOT of dictionaries. Why not call courtesy courtesy? Why try and make "courtesy" that was and almost always still is about gender, when it's real courtesy at all, chivalry? You say YOU define it that way, and that's swell, but that isn't how it IS defined, and I don't see howy it'd be any more reasonable to say it's defined differently for you than it would be for me to say that, for the sake of argument, I defined mariage as legalized prostitution.
In that case, I'd say that chivalry no longer exists at all. After all, the "medieval system, principles, and customs of knighthood" (American Heritage) aren't a part of modern society (there aren't exactly many knights walking around). Rather, I'd say that opening doors, paying for a date, etc. are merely just acts of courtesy. As I outlined above, a large majority of guys perform these acts to be nice. A desire to display dominance really isn't a part of it.

quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
You know, telling a woman what she should or should not take offense to or object to doesn't make for a strong case in your argument here.

And to be frank, the vague enjoyment I find in the ironic aside, I don't want anyone telling me what I should or should not object to, thank you very much.

I never declared what a woman should or should not take offense or object to. Obviously whether or not someone should take offense depends on the individual circumstances of an incident. Rather, my point is that its inaccurate to assume that just because a man (or anyone) opens a door or pays for you, it doesn't mean that he/she thinks that you're unable of doing said action. As I mentioned above, guys that actually believed that would be pretty rare, not to mention really unintelligent.

Sorry, I just don't think that I can be convinced that its rude of me to open a door for someone else.

[ 06-19-2006, 01:35 PM: Message edited by: Jim007 ]

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logic_grrl
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As I outlined above, a large majority of guys perform these acts to be nice.

Which I think makes it clear that you are talking specifically about male behaviour, not gender-neutral courtesy.

Here's a question: if you were going out for a coffee with a female friend, and she insisted on dashing in front of you to open doors for you, refused each time you suggested she go first, refused to let you pay for anything, paid for every meal, etc. - would that make you feel good? Or would you start feeling uncomfortable? Would you start wondering why you weren't ever being allowed to show your courtesy, or feeling that you were being expected to be grateful for all these favours you weren't allowed to return?

Further to that, imagine that you tried saying, "Hey, I'd feel better if we split the bill - let me pay for my share" and she promptly became offended and angry that you weren't being "grateful" for her "nice gestures".

How would you actually feel about that?

Sorry, I just don't think that I can be convinced that its rude of me to open a door for someone else.

Nobody's objected to general acts of courtesy applied in a gender-neutral way.

But if you look at this thread, you'll see that quite a few people have said that they feel extremely annoyed and uncomfortable when someone insists on opening doors for them, paying for things, etc. because they are female and the other person is male.

When you know that behaviour is making other people offended and uncomfortable, then I would suggest that it is rude to persist with it, no matter how "nice" your intentions are.

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Jim007
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quote:
Originally posted by logic_grrl:
As I outlined above, a large majority of guys perform these acts to be nice.

Which I think makes it clear that you are talking specifically about male behaviour, not gender-neutral courtesy.

[quote][qb]Here's a question: if you were going out for a coffee with a female friend, and she insisted on dashing in front of you to open doors for you, refused each time you suggested she go first, refused to let you pay for anything, paid for every meal, etc. - would that make you feel good? Or would you start feeling uncomfortable? Would you start wondering why you weren't ever being allowed to show your courtesy, or feeling that you were being expected to be grateful for all these favours you weren't allowed to return?

I'd be offended because the gentlemanly thing to do is to pay for and open the door for the lady. I'd be really uncomfortable with a date trying to reverse those on me. The society that we live in just doesn't allow it. I will acknowledge that it is certainly not gentlemanly to make a date feel uncomfortable, so as soon as a date indicated that my actions were doing so, I'd stop (i.e. if she wanted to split a bill, that'd be fine with me if it made her happy). Until then, however, its only courteous to offer to pay and to hold doors. The argument that the woman gives up decision-making power by doing so isn't applicable, because its not like I'd be picking out what she'd order to eat or what movie we'd see, for example. The woman shouldn't feel bad about a guy offering to pay. Likewise, the guy shouldn't feel burdened about having to offer.

The guys mentioned in previous posts really aren't being very gentlemanly if they're continuing to put their dates in uncomfortable situations, especially since the point of these rules of conduct is to make the woman feel honored, respected, and as comfortable as possible.

Is this gender-neutral? No. But when used properly, it doesn't do harm to anyone. Women's choices and autonomy aren't reduced. Instead, the woman feels honored, respected, and comfortable.

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Heather
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But guess what?

Have you READ the posts here?

About half of us have made clear that no, even without overt "pushiness" or aggression we do NOT feel honored, respected and comfortable with this type of gender-based discrimination, as logic_girl tried to point out to you, just like the inverse would not make YOU comfortable. (And of those who have not expressed feeling that way, some of those who don't also have stated that they aren't opposed to other aspects of gender-based traditionalism/discrimination, and others are calling general courtesy, that is NOT gender-based, chivalry, perhaps not understanding the defintion and tradition of chivalry in the first place.)

quote:
The argument that the woman gives up decision-making power by doing so isn't applicable, because its not like I'd be picking out what she'd order to eat or what movie we'd see, for example. The woman shouldn't feel bad about a guy offering to pay.
And you're doing it again, Jim. It's not your place to tell us what women -- which most of us are -- should or should not feel. Some of this absolutely DOES remove autonomy from women. For instance, when we're paying for a meal for ourselves, we can consider the cost of what we want based on what we have and want to spend -- when a man insists on paying for our food, we don't actually get to choose whatever we like most of the time, because we have to consider his nebulous budget, and even in instances when we CAN do so, we have to appear grateful for something we may not even want and which does NOT make us feel good. Heck, in many ways, when a man we might be, say, out to lunch with when it's not even a date we agreed to be on starts doing this stuff, we sit there wondering how the heck we can even have friendships or a friendly lunch without having the other person remind us of our gender and our class (and sometimes, our sexual objectification to boot) every waking minute.

Even the offer, in many ways sends the message, "I'm sure I have more money than you do," or "I'm paying for this because I want your gratitude or for you to treat me in a certain way."

And again, who the heck are you to say what does or doesn't do a gender or class harm which you aren't a member of?

I'm not going to get much more into this, because it's pretty obvious that what the women talking about this are largely saying here you either just aren't hearing, or just don't care to. That given, it'd be COURTEOUS at this point - and in the spirit of your ideas about not being pushy and not making people uncomfortable -- to let this discussion go back to how it was began. Beppie didn't ask for a defense of these behaviours, or for men's ideas on why women should feel okay with them: she asked for ideas on how to END them.

[ 06-19-2006, 04:10 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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Beppie
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quote:
I'd be offended because the gentlemanly thing to do is to pay for and open the door for the lady. I'd be really uncomfortable with a date trying to reverse those on me. The society that we live in just doesn't allow it.[/QB]
You know, the women who don't like chivalry on gender-based grounds are just as much a part of our society as anyone else. And the point is that I (and a lot of other women) are really uncomfortable with a date, or a friend always trying to pay for us, or constantly open doors for us when it isn't needeed. Yet when we express our discomfort, you seem to feel that we are doing something offensive, while you suggest that your own discomfort is completely okay.

It's pretty easy to distinguish between when someone is being "nice" because of gender and when they're doing it for reasons of common courtesy. If my hands are full, and someone opens the door for me, they have my thanks. If I'm unencumbered, and a man insists on not letting me open a single door (if we don't basically end up alternating, more or less), I'm uncomfortable, because it's a clear signal that this fellow thinks I should be treated differently because I'm female. If a male friend/partner wants to buy me dinner because I'm short on cash, I'll accept, so long as he agrees that when I get paid, I can take him out. If he never lets me go Dutch, I feel uncomfortable, because I will feel like I'm in his debt-- and since he won't let me repay the monetary debt, I feel that there's an expectation that it will be repaid in some other way, whether that be sexually, or (more commonly, in my experience) simply in expectations that I will behave in a certain way. It creates an expectation that he will be the one to call the shots, and that I will be the one to modify my behaviour in response to that.

I don't want to be treated like a "woman" or a "lady"-- "person" does me just fine.

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LilBlueSmurf
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What is the difference between 'gentlemanly thing to do' and 'chivalry'? You're (the general male 'you') doing it for me because you're male, i'm female, and it's expected. And i hate that.

That's pretty much what it comes down to ... If you're going to do something for someone because of their gender or yours, stop and think about it. Think about WHY you're doing it and what it means. Think about how you'd feel if the tables were turned (as Logic_grrl pointed out) and why it's okay for you and not them (and vice versa).

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twentysix
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Everything I want to say on this subject has already been said... but I believe one of the main reasons young boys are taught to be "chivalrous" is because their parents believe that opening doors and paying for meals are bare minimums for respecting a "lady", and thus do their best to instill these behavoirs. What they don't do; however, is stress the importance of respecting people in general. Women are made out to be lesser, more fragile beings.
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emochickie7
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Wow... I'm so glad to have found this thread. I'm a girl and I have always held doors open for someone if I get to the door first, and I, too, have received weird looks/comments when I do so with a guy. Those looks/comments have made me feel as though other people think I'm being too "manly" or something, and that really upset me.

What also bugs me is when I'm with a guy who opens the door for one of my friends who he probably thinks is more attractive than me, and DOESN'T hold the door open for me - then it's pretty obvious that his reasons for opening the door have nothing to do with common courtesy, and, instead, he ends up looking like a complete jerk to me. Of course, the girl that receives this attention is pretty oblivious to it all.

And one last thing that has bugged me... most of my girl friends and I take turns holding the door and stuff or waiting for the other person to go first (and that is what helps keep me from going completely crazy!), but there are a couple who find it necessary to run up to the door before me to let THEMSELVES in first, which I find EXTREMELY rude. I have brought it up before, but they think I'm overreacting.

I used to think I was just being too critical of people when I realized how much I noticed these things and how much they upset me... but I'm glad to know that my feelings are rational and that others have them, too! Thank you, Beppie!! [Smile]

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zeta
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Hm, I always defined courtesy vs chivalry differently -I admit in dictionary sense I'm probably wrong, this is just what's going on inside my head...

Courtesy is just basic manners -of course one gives one's seat to older people etc, naturally it's rude to let the door slam in the face of the person coming after you, and in a circle of friends whoever is the least broke can buy a round this week and another next time -it'll even out in time. Gender doesn't come into the consideration.

I always considered chivalry to be the romantic version of courtesy -I'd expect anyone to hold the door for me if I had bags, or be prepared to hold the door for them -but I'd not expect a bunch of flowers to brighten my day for no reason from anyone but a love interest.

I do know a bunch of guys who are very anti-chivalry because they figure that if we want to be equal, good, we can be equal all the way. No flowers, no helping me with my bags, no surprise sushi dinners -we'll have to arrange what and where beforehand to make sure everyone has the funding to pay their part.

I find that a really annoying attitude, it's like punishing me for wanting equality by denying me those nice romantic gestures. I may be a feminist but I'm not your pal, I'm your romantic partner, try acting like it?

On the other hand, expecting the guy to do all the effort with this "chivalry" business, or whatever it is, is unreasonable too. So while I do appreciate flowers and being taken out for dinner, I also get my boyfriends flowers and take them out for dinner. I find it pretty empowering -I want old-school romance of candlelit dinners and roses, but I need not sit around and wait for a guy to provide it, I can do it myself -and guys have usually liked it, after getting past the initial surprise.

I do also get into modes of being old-fashioned and following some rules of etiquette that have no discernible purpose. Like males should walk in stairs first; the original reason was presumably to prevent them from looking under womens skirts; of course if I'm wearing pants there is no sane reason. It's a bit like remembering which fork to use first when doing a dinner of many courses or at which occasions a traditional folk-type dress is appropriate alternative for an evening gown -it's of no discernible use, and certainly a person isn't less worthy for getting their forks and gowns mixed up, fascination with old-world etiquette is just a quirk.

In defence of old etiquette, the idea is to treat *all* women with same courtesy, not just the ones considered hot. My father, having an old-school upbringing, would bring flowers to *all* females in the household -roses for mum, bluebells or similar for little me. For a guy, helping, say, my grandmother with her coat and then (optionally) me is pleasant, just helping me isn't. Sharing my anachronistic quirk can make a good impression, pretending to in order to hit on girls certainly does not. And insisting on manners that make others uncomfortable because you're "supposed" to is just plain rude.

As paying for things goes, there's the psychology of the gift. There is no such thing as a free gift really, mostly they're used to either assert superiority, or to make the receiving party feel they owe the giver. I don't mind at all letting my boyfriend pay for me if I'm broke; we run our lives together, and I pay for him if he's broke. Same tends to go for friends. And I won't count who got which cup of coffee, whoever I'm dealing with. But trying to pay for expensive things feels almost like an act of aggression, attempt to make me feel dependant or at the very least in debt. I mean, offer to take me shopping and actually pick up the bill when I barely know you? Why would you do that? What do you want in return? It's just alarming. Or one guy who managed to forget about my existence for a bit and then offered to pay for a completely unrelated plane ticket as apology -do you think my regard is for sale? Insulting, really.

Or drinks in bars -getting one for whoever you're talking with comes across as polite, to me, as long as it's consistent. I do it too. Getting drinks for no reason to hot women only is just annoying -they can get their own damn drinks, and will talk to you if they're so inclined, drinks or no.

So yesh, I think courtesy is expected from all to all, chivalrous/romantic/whatever-it-is gestures are really nice, from *both* sides, old-fashioned etiquette has its charms, but attempts to be polite to hot women only are anything but polite, and overkill on the "guys are supposed to pay" is horribly, horribly rude. I'm sorry this got so lengthy -it's difficult to explain the subtle difference in intention in words...

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I don't get even, I get odder

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