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Feminism, chivalry, why can’t we have them both?

So Mad Men, y’all. A show so awesome that I’m inclined to watch it with a pen and paper in my hand, jotting down witty remarks and Roger Sterling’s sarcastic comments. I’ve gotten a few post ideas from the show, and no, none of them is about how sexy Hamm and Hendricks are. [And that’s because a whole blog needs to be dedicated to that, not just a post or two.]

One of the first things you notice in this show is how differently women were treated back in the 60s. Of course we already knew that, in fact most of the times when you say ‘housewife’ my mind automatically jumps to those 50s commercials where the woman is almost having a Tupperware-induced orgasm. In Mad Men there’s a thick separation line between the jobs suitable for women and those for men. At the office most women worked as secretaries probably because getting coffee and answering phones was thought to be about as complicated as they could handle. The majority dreamt of the married life, a house in the suburbs and being taken care of by their husbands although I think secretly they longed for adventure, independence and being exactly those women that the 60s men found irresistible and took as their mistresses.

In the 60s however men always stood up when a woman left the table or entered the room, they always opened the door for a woman and always took her coat. Men always watched their language in front of women and I bet they always gave up their seat on the bus. I’m only mentioning the last part because a while ago D mentioned a conversation he had with one of his co-workers. The guy in question was uncertain whether or not he should give up his seat to a woman who seemed pregnant. Unsure of whether she was indeed expecting or just on the heavy side, he was in a conundrum: would she feel offended if he offered her his seat?

When D told me this story, he added at the end: “So I told him: I don’t see where the problem was. Don’t you always give up your seat to a woman irrespective of whether or not she’s pregnant?”. [At that point in my mind I was like “10 points for you, right there, buddy”]. Like most women, I appreciate chivalry. In fact it’s one of the top qualities a man should have, and again, I can’t help but consider myself really lucky that my dude is such a gentleman.

I can’t speak for other women, but I don’t feel looked down on when I’m offered a seat on a crowded bus. This small act doesn’t equate to women not being intellectually able to do the same jobs men do. Maybe most of us don’t have the physique to be GIs although, as Demi showed us we can shave our head and do those damned push-ups if we put our mind to it! GI Demi aside, it’s no secret women are more delicate and in need of being protected by men. No matter how enraged feminists try to deny it, I think all women long for being sheltered. Even if it is by a stranger who has his doubts about whether you have a baby in your tummy or just a tummy.

Being chivalrous is being respectful towards everything a woman represents. If anything, men, think of it as giving something back to all the women who went through labor. Because, if you haven’t already, you might as well accept it, pushing a 7 lbs baby out of our bodies is something that will always give us the upper hand.

Comments (7)

  • I am so with you on this. All of it from Mad Men love to chivalry. I love men with manners 🙂

    xo Mary Jo

  • > why can’t we have them both?

    Well, you have to be specific about what you’re referring to when you say feminism and chivalry.

    > Being chivalrous is being respectful towards everything a woman represents.

    This is exactly what I mean. Chivalry and respect aren’t the same things, and yet you (and many women) equate them to be. If I don’t give up my seat to a woman, am I being disrespectful? If a woman doesn’t give her seat up to a man, is she being disrespectful?

    Look, the bottom line is that most women want the best of both worlds. They want men to be chivalrous—and to treat them differently than how men are treated; but in many other ways, women also want men to treat them on equal terms. The two ARE contradictory at times. If I respect a man, I don’t need to offer him my seat—why should I do so for a woman?

    You want to be pampered and treated with the same ideals of romanticism that were true fifty years ago, and yet you want all the advantages of the modern day woman. Often, these clash with each other.

    Let me give you an example: the expectation of who pays on a date has changed. I’ve met women who would be insulted if the man pompously assumes he’s taking charge and taking the bill, and I’ve also met women who expect the age-old (though perhaps no longer applicable) rule that the man should pick up the bill.

    I’m not saying this as a rant, but simply as a statement of fact. Personally, I like this strange clash of expectations. It makes the social game a lot more fun.

  • I completely agree with you. I think we can accept men being kind and respectful and still be in control of our own lives.

  • I take care of myself. I work very hard and continue to better my mind and my skills.
    At the same time, I will not go on a second date with a man that doesn’t hold the door open.
    Yes. I am capable. But when push comes to shove, I believe that men function better in our society when they are expected to be the heroes. 🙂

  • Feminism, chivalry, why can’t we have them both?

    Because feminism means to treat men and women with equal courtesy and respect. To treat women better (or worse) strictly based on gender is explicitly what feminism opposes.

    So, no, you can’t have them both because they are incompatible. However, since the majority of men and women don’t consider themselves feminists, it’s really not necessary to have them both. Those of us regular (non-feminist) folks enjoy chivalry and fairness between genders.

  • You want both?

    Do you mean to tell me that feminists are FOR gender inequality if women are the ones who benefit but against gender inequality if men are the ones who benefit? Chivalry ,by definition, treats women better than men. So, you can’t have both. If you chivalry you don’t have TRUE feminism. If you have feminism, you will reject chivalry, even if done politely.

  • Methinks you dropped a bombshell there Phil, well done.

    On an additional note I generally resent so-called rules that apply to all women, such as the contemporary definition of chivalry; I personally find them utterly irrelevant as I see each PERSON as an individual. You aren’t all the same, are you?


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