The Thing With Chivalry

Here’s the sort of thing I run into very often:

Guy: Women are trying to be too much like men these days, man.

Me: Getting your chauv on, are you? 

Guy: What?! Me? A chauvinist? I open doors for my girlfriend. I carry shopping bags for her. I drive her around. I pull out chairs for her at restaurants. I PROTECT her. I do all these things even if she doesn’t ask me to. I RESPECT women. How can you call me a chauvinist?

Me: *shrug*

Guys like the one above are all too common. And they’re not faking it. They really believe that they are not chauvinistic. They really DO respect women in their way. They really, really think they’re doing their bit for the feminist movement. But none of that changes the fact that their views are still pretty chauvinistic.

A lot of people mistake “respect” for empowerment. They mistake the age-old concept of chivalry for feminism. They think that by opening doors for women, they are somehow empowering them.

It does not work like that.

Feminism is not about exaggerated, patronizing “respect” for women as a group. It’s not about opening doors and carrying stuff for them. It’s not about giving them special treatment and “protecting” them.

It’s about EQUALITY, first and foremost.

It’s about understanding that women are individuals.

It’s about realizing that women can open their own doors, can carry their own stuff, and are people who have their own likes and dislikes, their own limits.

It’s about respecting them as much or as less you would respect any other person of your own gender.

It’s about letting go of the group mentality.

It is about unlearning the idea of “we men” and “you women”.

It is about unloading the burden of a society’s perceived honor from women’s backs.

It is about refusing to subscribe to a fake, discriminatory morality.

It is about standing up to the cultural norms that define set places for men and women.

It is about a worldview that is free of the stereotypes and clichés and labels from a bygone era.

 

That’s what MY feminism is about. That’s the kind of society I dream of.

 

Open doors for women if you so wish, but do it WITHOUT the condescension. That’s all I ask.