A feminist declares, “Chivalry has nothing to do with respect and everything to do with manipulation.”
I found scant little to agree with in this article in The NewStatesman. I find it rather amazing that this woman is of such a fragile constitution that having the door held open for her, by a man (oh no!), leaves her open to physical stress and misogynistic, emotional manipulation. I read this article about four times just to make sure that I really was reading such…bollocks.
The author, Glosswitch, published this article in response to another article that she read about chivalry by Emily Esfahani-Smith in The Atlantic. I will agree with the author Glosswitch that the definition of chivalry given in Esfahani-Smith’s article is incomplete, it is just that there were multiple definitions of chivalry given. The original concept, from what I’ve studied, was military. Then it became a social code, specifically to allow for otherwise forbidden liaisons between aristocratic, noble women and lower-status men, usually knights or aspiring knights or other random courtiers.
But otherwise, the article in The NewStatesmen rather splits hairs. The author approves of courtoisie but not chivalry, despite the fact that whatever courtoisie and politesse she approves of found its origins in chivalry. I certainly agree with Esfahani-Smith and many of the people she quotes that the decline in chivalrous behavior on the part of women and, especially, men have given rise to boorish behavior. It is one of my main pet peeves. I hold doors open for the elderly, the disabled, the pregnant, the young, or anyone else who may be struggling with packages or close enough behind me that letting the door close in front of them would be a jerk move on my part. Glosswitch would agree with me on that part. But I also let a man hold the door for me, especially older men for whom chivalry has never become passe and would in fact be offended if I accused them of less than honest purposes for imparting such a courtesy. When younger men do so, I be sure to thank them personally so as to encourage this positive behavior. I hope my work isn’t being undone by angry, easily offended, and easily “threatened” women like Glosswitch.
Like any social code or philosophy therein, chivalry can certainly be used to oppress. There is a significant difference in attitude between, “You can’t do that because you are a woman” and “Please, allow me to do that for you” and most rational people can suss that out. I have met plenty of supposed “progressives” and “liberals” and “feminists” who nonetheless want to dictate and approve of certain harmless behaviors while viciously persecuting other harmless behavior all based on their personal biases and squicks.
By all means, hold the door open for me. Walk beside me with your sword arm free and ready to go. Defend my honor should someone seek to impugn it. And like the days of old, your efforts will be greatly rewarded.