No wonder this is a confusing time for men. Chivalry is dead, and men are to blame.
I love The Good Men Project. That’s why I’ve been writing for them and working with them for the last year. Generally speaking I think this website fills a very important void, and usually I’m proud to associate myself with them.
But yesterday I wanted to strangle someone when I read Hugo Schwyzer’s piece on Chivalry.
I’ve read articles here about the end of men, how all men are rapists and the countless ways men intentionally and unintentionally demean women. And I grit my teeth through most of them because I don’t agree. Hugo’s piece yesterday was actually very thoughtful and something with which I (mostly) agreed, because his overall message was that chivalry is generally a good thing and doesn’t have to run afoul of feminist beliefs.
But I took issue with this statement: “We don’t get to play parts that make us feel good at the expense of others. A ‘gentleman’ shouldn’t foist his manners on to others.”
As someone who was raised to hold doors for women, open car doors, pull out chairs, and walk closest to the road when strolling down the street, I don’t think good manners should be considered something negative, done “at the expense of others” just because a woman has a problem with it. The act itself is still kind and still chivalrous, even if someone inexplicably has a problem with it.
Or more bluntly, maybe a “lady” shouldn’t complain about manners to others.
But many people who left comments disagreed. Here’s a sampling:
- Men performing chivalrous acts that don’t make the woman feel good should be abandoned.
- If you’re holding the door because you are a man and the other person is a woman, then you are ignoring the individuality of the person you are dealing with (not to mention your own individuality)… and that is the problem with chivalry.
- I didn’t appreciate it when a total stranger scurried ahead of me at a gas station to hold the door when I wasn’t even planning on stepping inside the building yet. I suddenly felt obligated to go in because he was standing there holding the door for me.
- I don’t think that is chivalrous at all; that is giving yourself pleasure without giving a damn what the other person thinks.
There are more, but you get the idea.
This, to me, just drives home the fact that men can’t win. Ever. Some women blast us if we don’t pay for dinner on a date or open the car door. But then we do those things, and all of a sudden we’re thoughtless chauvinists who are only acting kindly because traditional gender roles and societal expectations mandate it.
Can we please stop this bullshit already??
If the biggest problem you have with men is that they randomly hold open doors or help you carry heavy groceries to your car, I really don’t want to hear it. In the words of Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men,” I’d rather you just say thank you and go on your way.
You’re attacking chivalry? Seriously?? You’re going to get on a guy’s case because he’s practicing good manners? As someone who routinely holds open doors and gives up his seat on subways to women (and some men) without any expectations whatsoever, I have to request we put a stop to this idiocy. Common courtesy is a good thing. Manners are a good thing. Let’s keep it that way.
I understand people question motives. But honestly, as long as people are acting in a polite manner, who cares?!!?! If a rich person donates a large sum of money to charity should the organization not take it simply because he’s doing it for the tax write off? If someone starts doing volunteer work just because someone else made them feel guilty, are we going to stop them from doing it because their motivation isn’t pure enough? Hell no. Discouraging good behavior is just…well, it’s dumb!
I’m all for criticizing people who behave badly. If a man lets you go through the door first just so he can grab your ass, that’s unacceptable. But if he does it because he was raised to do so and is genuinely thoughtful, what’s the problem? A guy opening a door for you or waving you off the elevator first doesn’t take a choice away. You still have a choice. Refuse if you want to, that’s fine. But don’t get all bent out of shape that someone is practicing manners. And do not tell me that person is actually being rude in the process.
No wonder this is a confusing time for men. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
Read Hugo Schwyzer’s article that sparked this debate.