Chivalry is dead. That’s how the saying goes, isn’t it? But if you ask me, some things are better off in the ground. No mourning necessary.
Hearing that, some might bristle. “But isn’t being chivalrous just something you’d do for someone you love – regardless of gender?” they'd interrupt, face screwed up in a frown.
That might be true if it went both ways, but let’s not kid ourselves. It’s not exactly a two-way street. On the contrary, most of the traffic is revving in one direction – and just like road rage during rush hour, someone’s inevitably going to end up with their fender wrapped around a telephone pole.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that while insisting on opening doors and standing for ladies on public transport might seem perfectly polite on the surface, gestures like these can sometimes be seen to infantilise women. And seeing as infantilisation is one step above dehumanisation, what initially comes across as a simple act of kindness can be ultimately detrimental to everyone involved.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we need to start slamming doors in people’s faces and yanking chairs out from under each other. We can still be courteous to one another without getting muddied up in Arthurian gender norms.
If you’ve ever been on a date with a prize Tinder d-bag – you know the one; his name is most likely Chad, and he smells like protein powder and Lynx body spray – you’ll have noticed that he insists on footing the cheque, and gets a bit peeved when you try to object.
That’s largely because he needs the fragile flower of his masculinity watered, but also (and here’s the clincher) because bribing your affections – whether that means springing for dinner at a fancy restaurant or draping his jacket over your shoulders – can be a form of emotional extortion. He may want a little piece of you to roll around in his pocket along with his wallet and Durex.
What’s that age-old adage? A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space. That one’s from Gloria Steinem. Yeah, that Gloria Steinem, one of the most quoted – and badass – feminists who ever lived. Imagine some guy insisting she walk on the building side of the footpath. It’s unthinkable.
And because it’ll always bear repeating, another one of Steinem’s quips goes: “If a man opens a door for you and it costs you $15,000 in salary, it's not worth it.” Amen.
In short, grooming boys to be gallant knights who ride to the rescue is old-fashioned at best and dangerously misogynistic at worst. Because the reality is that girls and women aren't helpless damsels, most guys wouldn't know which end to hold a sword, and the only dragon in this scenario is toxic masculinity.
Chivalry is medieval for a reason. Let's leave it that way.Support Villainesse