Saturday, December 29, 2012

Chivalry? D.O.A

I recently had a discussion with a very close friend of mine about equal rights for women and whether or not, as women, we can have both equal  rights and chivalry.

I think the major flaw in this argument is the definition of chivalry. We have it wrapped up in the same romanticized ideas that suggest that being a pirate was sexy and glamorous (thank you Johnny Depp), and that sword fights in medieval England were something more refined than bludgeoning another man with a  heavy, sharpened, metal club.

Yes, women want to be treated equally in the work place. They want equal pay and equal opportunities. Who wouldn't? I would venture that it's safe to say that every gender and race wants to be treated fairly in all walks of life.

That said, I can personally attest to how demeaning it is to be called kiddo and sweetheart as a young woman in the work place. It takes all my diplomacy not to reply with comments like, "You bet, tyke," or "You're welcome, snookums," when men lack the presence of mind to treat me with more respect. I can't fathom that these men would dare call a male coworker (old or young) "sweetheart" so flippantly.

With that in mind, I believe we need to redefine our concept of chivalry. Yes, I appreciate it when a guy opens the door for me...and I also appreciate it when a woman opens the door for me. Additionally, I happily open the door for other people who are trying to enter the same building at the same time that I am. Because I am female does that mean that it's not chivalrous?

What about vacating my seat for an elderly person? What about letting someone cut in in traffic? Or, for that matter, proffering the extremely rare courtesy wave? And is it that men shouldn't swear in front of women? Or that people, in general, shouldn't swear in front of strangers?

I think saying you can't have both chivalry and equal rights is an excuse. Chivalry is dead. Pirates, with the exception of Johnny Depp, were not handsomely dashing adventurers, sword fights were not beautifully choreographed feats of martial arts, and princesses did not have glass slippers and live with dwarfs.

There is hope, however! With the death of chivalry, there was a gaping hole that needed to be filled, and I believe class and common courtesy, have stepped up as the replacements. Though they are rare (class is exceptionally hard to find these days), they are opportunities for both genders to show respect, appreciation, and good-will toward other people.

With that in mind - thank you for taking the time to read this.

Have a wonderful day!