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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Chivalric or Politically Correct

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Author Topic: Chivalric or Politically Correct
Gaffer
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At school last week I, thinking it was the polite thing to do, offered to help a girl carry a heavy prop during the set build for our fall play (Lysistrata). She replied jokingly, "Are you living in the Renaissance? Do you think women need help carrying heavy stuff?" It made me wonder...

Traditionally in western society, it is considered polite for a man to open the door for a woman, pay for any expenses on a date, help women whenever possible, that sort of thing. Does this make any sense? Is there logic behind this idea?

I personally think it's nice when anyone gets the door or pays for a meal, and disagree with the idea that men are always supposed to do this for women. Perhaps chivalry shouldn't be killed for political correctness, but reincarnated to make the world an, at the expense of being cliche, better place. What do you think?

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Beppie
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I agree with you- it's nice when anyone makes an effort to help you out, or treat you to something, and gender isn't really relevant to that. If a male opens a door for me when my hands are full, then that is lovely. I would do the same for him if our positions were reversed. I would do the same for another female, or whatever gender the person might be. I would find taking offense at such an act rather silly.

However, I do find it annoying when some guys go out of their way to be chivalrous- I remember one fellow I knew a couple of years ago who would simply not let me (or any female) walk through a door without rushing ahead to open it, even when it was really not necessary. I found this annoying because it always disrupted the flow of conversation, and I felt that the act was too loaded with gender expectations- both the expectation for the guy to open the door and the expectation that the female wanted him to do that.

I also think that expectations of chivalry when only applied to males can be hard on guys when they are expected to pay for everything, be the breadwinner, etc. While less and less women expect this now days- I've hardly ever met a woman who does expect it, and most that I know would be quite uncomfortable in a relationship where the guy always paid- it's a good example of how unfair chivalry can be when it's only expected of males.


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BJadeT
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I hold doors open for everyone, men and women and hardly anyone thanks me. Grr.
Anyway, I don't really have a problems with men being 'chivalrous', as long as it's not accompanied by a patronising attitude. They can hold doors open for me, but they'd better not talk down to me.
Seriously, I think men realise that women can open doors etc for themselves, so when they do it for you it's kind of nice. Polite and kind. I think polite, kind behaviour always needs to be encouraged, regardless of the gender of the people involved, so it would be sad if people were too scared to do nice things because of the possible offence it might cause.
Anyway, I like to exploit 'ladies first' etc for my own good so it had better stick around.

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bettie
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It does feel a bit odd when soemone tkes things a little too far. A firend of mine likes to put his arm around the shoulders of wmen when we cross the street. it isn't a hug and it doesn't feel like he is trying to hit on you. he does it to protect the women from traffic.

1- That won't help much if we are going to be hit by a car.

2- I can traverse the street on my own. I am fully functionl person.

I think he learned this trick from his father. I suppose it would not seem so odd if a man from his father's generation would do this.

It makes me think of how my mother would hate it when my father would order for her at a restaurant ( la "the lady will have the fish..."). He thought it was polite. She thought it was insulting. Sometimes my father was stuck in a time warp when it came to female-male situations.

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BruinDan
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It's definitely a touchy issue, and I can remember when I first ran afoul of political correctness and held open a door for a woman who was exiting a building behind me. I was 10 years old and with my mother, and as I exited the building I held the door open for the next person because she was right on my heels, and I had been taught to hold a door open as a courtesy to someone who is immediatly behind you. I did so, and the woman stopped dead in her tracks and stared at me. I didn't know what to do, but I gathered that maybe she was going to change her mind and walk back into the building...but as I was thinking that, she slapped at my hand and said something to the effect of "I can do this myself, who the hell do you think you are?!" She then added something about the Patriarchy, which enraged my mother.

I was pretty stunned, and I think that was a sad lesson to learn. I meant no ill will, I just thought it was common courtesy. But that image sort of stuck with me, and today I am far more careful about the message I am conveying when I do things like that. I certainly don't want to feed into any sort of patronizing behavior, but I would like to be courteous. And I think that it is a fine line that we all have to walk sometimes, where good intentions can upset people if we aren't careful.

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[This message has been edited by BruinDan (edited 11-08-2001).]


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John Doe
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Any person who would slap at a ten year old for being helpful and lecture him about patriarchy is obviously mentaly disturbed.
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DarlingBri
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I am very comfortable with what's termed "chivalry." It makes life more socially graceful, although the rules of social etiquette that dictate chivalrous behaviour are largely lost these days.

If I am heading towards a door with a man, I will always pause a beat to allow him to open it if he wishes, mostly because this decreases the likelihood of the "two bodies, one doorframe bash" that looks very foolish.

If I am with a woman, or a man who looks hesitant, I simply say "I'll get it" as we approach the door.

I prefer to have a car door opened for me by the driver regardless of gender. I open the car door for my passengers, regardless of gender. It's polite. They are, essentially, my guests.

If you're walking down the street and someone is approaching you, tradition dictates that the man step toward the curb and the woman steps towards the buildings. This is a very old tradition having to do with muddy streets and long skirts, but it avoids the "shall we dance?" routine in the middle of the sidewalk. In the case of people of the same gender, the younger person steps to the curb side. When in doubt, I just move.

I'm sure that many people find it laughable. That's fine. For me, it's part of my upbringing, and I feel more confident moving through the world with a knowledge of how to negotiate those types of situations.

While I realise there is gender bias in the traditions, I'm not bothered by that now. There's nothing wrong with my arms, but I don't feel the need to prove that at every doorway.

And gaffer, if you were carrying something heavy, I would offer to help you. Because there's nothing wrong with my arms, and it's only polite

--Bri

[This message has been edited by DarlingBri (edited 11-08-2001).]


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Gumdrop Girl
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i like chivalry. i don't find it any different from being polite. i hold doors for ppl and lend my coat to ppl who are colder than me. imho, if a person cannot appreciate an act of courtesy, then he or she is ungrateful. the last thing this world needs is fewer acts of kindness.

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Confused boy
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I implore all women not to feel patronised or any strong emotion if a man decides to act in a chivalrous manner. In modern times it is very hard to know what the right thing to do is. If a man is behaving in such a way, he is almost certainly merely trying to impress the woman and show that he is a gentleman.
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BruinDan
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quote:
Originally posted by John Doe:
Any person who would slap at a ten year old for being helpful and lecture him about patriarchy is obviously mentaly disturbed.

I am with you on that one John, she was pretty vile. I was pretty stunned after it happened, but I remember that my mother (who was no slouch when it came to women's issues) berated her for about ten solid minutes right in the front of that office building.

quote:
Originally posted by Confused Boy:
In modern times it is very hard to know what the right thing to do is.

Again, I think that is a very telling statement. My friends and I have had this conversation a number of times, especially in recent years when all of us had girlfriends at one or another. We couldn't really figure out whether we should be opening car doors, etc for our girlfriends because there seemed to be such a divergence of opinion. My girlfriend in high school would yell at me if I got the door for her, whlie my girlfriend in college would yell at me if I didn't. So I think we all played it safe as a result and tested the waters a bit before we opened a door or pulled a chair out from a table, or did all those things that our grandfathers insisted were an absolute must.

It's just sad when we as a society berate people who are trying to be polite.

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sapphirecat
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I hold doors and such... if anyone wants to complain I'm being patronizing, I can just smile at them and see if they do a double take when they notice I'm wearing lipstick and glitter.

I also don't refuse help. "Many hands make light work", right?

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-Jill
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I Gumdrop Girl nailed when she said

quote:
Originally posted by Gumdrop Girl:
the last thing this world needs is fewer acts of kindness.

I think that any acts of kindness should simply be appreciated and if possible, reciprocated. It's little things like opening doors for each other, moving aside, giving clothes, allowing someone else to go first, etc. that contribute to our societies well-being. However for these actions to truly be beneficial they need to be well intentioned; gestures made simply by virtue of gender are a bit patronizing.


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Lynne
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For me at least, actions become patronizing (though probably unintentionally on the part of the doer) when the person goes out of their way to help me when I don't need it.

Let me try to explain: if I'm right on somebody's heels and we're both heading for a door, and that person holds it open for me, they're not going out of their way to help me. They were going to open the door anyway. If, though, they open and close my car door, I'd find that patronizing. They wouldn't have gone near that door had I not been in the car. I can handle a car door perfectly well on my own. The extra effort can be construed as being spent because I'm so incapable of dealing with things on my own that the person has to go out of their way to help.

If, however, I actually need help, it's a different story. Sure, I can open and close a car door on my own under normal circumstances, but if it's sticking or something, then the polite thing to do is help me with it.

Most little acts of kindness -- like lending clothing, offering to help carry something that's obviously heavy, etc. -- are acceptable under this definition.

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'rin
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i'm weird about doors being held and such, but never rude about it. i'll put it this way - my guy holds doors open for me, almost always, and i love it. it's a nifty gesture comming from him. and if someone is going thrugh a door right before me, it's perfectly natural for them to pause that one beat to hold it for me. but if some man who i find very unattractive/older than my father/otherwise not at all my type goes out of his way to hold the door for me it bothers me on some level. i still smile, i would never act annoyed at someone for being polite,i just am not comfortable having someone who i don't have some kind of personal relationship with do anything to "take care of me". it's nifty when my guy decides to lend me his sweater or open the door or carry something, ditto for my guy friends, but i don't want some stranger's hands on my belongings or coat around my sholders, on some fundamental level it just gets to me. that said tho - in general terms i think chivalry is a great thing. eventhough i'm not always personally comfortalbe with it, i would never dream of yelling at someone for being nice to me, that's just silly.
'rin

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Rizzo
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I take no offence when people hold doors open for me (although I do suspect males get doors held open for them less often). I figure that I hold doors open for other people just as often, and it all evens out.

What bothers me are girls who expect everything laid out for them on a silver platter. Pleeeease, I'm sure you can open a door, pull out your chair, flip down the toilet seat, or pay for your drink. If you think it's your right to be treated "like a lady", perhaps you'd better start treating others as ladies too!

The other thing that bothers me is teachers saying "can I get two strong boys to help me with this?". Usually what they need help with is not so heavy that a female couldn't handle it.

P.S. Gaffer, the heavy prop she was carrying for Lysistrata didn't happen to be a giant phallus, did it? Sorry, that was the first thing that came to mind.

[This message has been edited by Rizzo (edited 11-12-2001).]


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Gaffer
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No, I wish...

My school is very, er, big on censorship. I designed the poster with the Venus de Milo wearing an artillery belt (in the style of Rambo) and the administration said I have to redesign it tonight (as in I'm doing so right now) because the violence and nudity are inappropriate. If we had a giant phallus on the school property someone would lose their job. At least the thought behind it is still there.


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smittenkitten
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We were discussing the code of chivalry in school today, and I brought up the fact that I thought the part about "Protecting womesn honour" was sexist. My teacher disagreed, but I said it was still sexist even if it was sexist in our favour.

It is nice to have doors held open etc, but it also makes me think that people think I'm incapable of doing it myself (of maybe I'm just paranoid)

Hugs & Scully,
Winnie :0)

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CallieRebecca
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When a guy opens the door, carries somehting heavy, etc., for me, I love it because I think that polite guys are soooo rare now. I mean, it's not that I CAN'T open the door or carry heavy things, it's just that it's sweet. I dunno. I'm a hopeless romantic anyways.

~ Callie


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Pumpkin_Pie
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I hold doors open for my teachers, and I've yet to have been killed for it. Then again I'm a girl, and its expected because they're older than me. But to be quite honest, I would love it if a guy help open a door for me if I was struggling with books or whatever. I'd hold it open for a guy! I mean, I think that the world has enough arguments without arguing over the opening of a door. A liitle act of kindness can go a long way. And if someone doesn't appreciate it(like that psycho who shouted at the ten year old) then they have the problem and I wouldn't worry too much about yourself
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