There’s been a lot of chatter about chivalry on the internet lately, which is weird, since we do not live in medieval times (evidence: the internet). Is it dead? Did those bitchy feminists kill it? Can you be a feminist and still expect chivalry? What do those crazy women want, anyway??
I can’t speak for all women, but I can tell you what I want. I want to be treated like a fully realized adult human being, with four working limbs, and a working brain. Is that too much to ask?
Chivalry isn’t about being polite; it’s about being patronizing. “Make her feel safe,” they say. “Make her feel like a lady.”
Men, I do not need or want you to make me feel safe. You are not my guard dog. You are not my daddy. Assuming that my safety lies in your hands, and not mine, is condescending and gross.
I do not need you to make me feel like a lady. You know what makes me feel like a lady? The fact that I am a lady. “Like a lady” is literally the only way I ever feel. When I paint my fingernails, I feel like a lady. When I use a cordless drill, I feel like a lady. When I cook a meal for my husband, I feel like a lady. When I mow the lawn, I feel like a lady. I do not need a man to perform weird rituals to affirm my gender, thanks.
I recently read an article where the (male) writer was all worked up because men these days won’t stop and help if they drive past a woman changing a tire. Why should they? If you see me standing by my car with a sign that says, “Help, I have no life skills or cell phone,” by all means, pull over. But if I’m changing my tire, obviously I don’t need you to change my tire! (An aside, this must be a tires-only phenomenon, because I can’t tell you how many times a strange man has offered to help when he spotted me filling up my windshield washer fluid. Seriously, guy, if I can’t manage that on my own, I shouldn’t even have a driver’s license.)
To the chivalry apologists that claim they’re “only doing it to be polite,” I counter, would you do that for a man? Holding doors for everyone should be standard procedure. Rushing ahead and opening doors? Weird and awkward. Please don’t. Offering to carry a large and/or heavy load for me? Only if I’m clearly struggling—meaning you’ve witnessed me almost drop said item, or audibly grunt. And again, these are things you should be doing for men, too.
Bottom line, gentlemen: next time you feel the urge to do something “nice” or “polite” for a woman, particularly one you don’t know, ask yourself what your motivation is. “Because she’s a woman”? Get the fuck out of here. “Because it’s the right thing to do”? Carry on.
This post originally appeared on In the Powder Room