A friend of mine, well meaning but very much still stuck in the idea that men should be gentlemen and women should be ladies recently posted this article. Never mind the fact that the article itself is rife with errors, I took issue with the concept that somehow, as a gender fighting tooth and nail to be treated equally, women were somehow doing it wrong and that “gentlemen” were missing out on the “ladies” they deserved and wanted so desperately to pamper spun in the direction of “ladies, you deserve better/a guy like me!”
Here’s the thing: “gentlemanly” behavior, as an appreciated standard, hasn’t died: we just call it common courtesy now. Holding a door for someone? It’s something women and men do, for women and men, because letting a door slam in someone’s face is rude. “What happened to paying to take a woman out for a nice meal?” We now go Dutch or take turns paying – as it should be! MRAs love to criticize feminism as a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too movement. “You want to be equal, buy your own drinks! *smirk*” …Okay. That’s not a problem, the origins of a man paying for dates goes back to when middle and upper class young women did not commonly work outside of the home (women in the workforce is not new for the impoverished in the United States, but it’s not something you hear about too often in your average history class). Women do work now; presumably in a couple if one party is not working, the other one pays most of the time. This isn’t a bad thing and you’d be hard pressed to find an academically respectable feminist that thinks it is a bad thing that women are now increasingly becoming financially independent of men.
Mr. Picciuto argues that, in reference to this so-called “hookup culture,” “The real problem here is that women, for one reason or another, have become complacent and allowed men to get away with adhering to the bare minimum.” As linked above, this isn’t the case, but even if it were, why is it so incomprehensible to believe that women, uh, like sex? “When did it become acceptable to just text a girl, inviting her to come bang? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about those instances, I’m just saying, why have we strayed away from what has been established as the norm?… Eventually, I feel that women will wise up and start asking for the things that they deserve, the things used to be automatic and expected of men, like holding a door, pulling out a chair, and paying for dinners.” I can’t speak for all women, but if a guy walks through a door before me and doesn’t hold it, especially if we’re on a date, I think he’s an ass. I also think the same of a woman on a date. And I always hold the door, because I’m not a self-important jerk.
Wait, hang on, “the norm?” Is he referring to the historical norm wherein politically powerful fathers used their daughter’s virginity for social leverage? Or the norm outside of the US where young women (and men) are arranged to each other, sometimes at a very young age? The virginity insurance norm has lived into today thanks to great marketing by jewelry companies. Maybe he meant the norm where premarital and casual sex happened with the same frequency as it did decades ago with the same number of partners, just by different means (i.e. the internet and texting), but women were shamed for it being publicly known? There’s no such thing as a “norm” in dating and things like courtesies and the enjoyment of sex becoming a common ground is good for both sides.
You’ll notice non-heterosexual couples don’t have an issue with “chivalry,” because both parties have an expected common ground of courtesy, neutral of gendered expectations. Why is this such an issue for heterosexuals to get a grasp on?
Oh, right, because being “gentlemanly” gives men a platform for which to criticize women for not being “ladies,” AKA “women who are having more sex than I personally find acceptable at a completely arbitrary level/not with me.” This isn’t an attitude expressed only by men, women slut shame the shit out of each other under the guise of being more “ladylike” than the women in question. The great thing about being a woman standing in judgment of the sexual freedom of other women is that the amount and type of sex you’re having is never slutty *eyeroll*! Which, ultimately, is the point of slut shaming – if someone else is sluttier, and you can make sure everyone knows it, then you’re not a slut, and you’re better marriage material than her. Gag.
The image at the top of this page is a modified macro from The Rules of a Gentleman circulating on imgur. Looking through the list and eliminating the weirdly infantilizing ones (“If she can’t sleep, read her a bedtime story.” Haha, what?), the ones that are date-specific (“Run with her on the beach.”) and the ones that are just plain wrong (“If she slaps you, you probably deserved it.” – No, nope, physical assault is never acceptable. “Never give her a reason to think that she’s the man in the relationship.” What does this even mean, like never let her be in charge? The hell?), this is a good list…for how to interact with all people in a polite way in society. We need to let go of this whole chivalry thing because it’s keeping us all down, and we need to actively suppress the idea that the value of women is directly tied to who they do or don’t sleep with.