Earlier today, while eating lunch with my family, the topic of chivalry became the focus of our discussion. We were questioning whether or not the existence of chivalry in society today has died off, or if it still alive and well. We determined that it has not yet died, but that it is certainly less common than it was fifty years ago for a number of reasons.
My dad is old-fashioned in the sense that he believes chivalry should be something that is demonstrated towards all women. My dad has set the standards high in regards to what I look for in a man as a result of his consistent chivalrous behaviour towards my mom, sister, and myself throughout my life.
I was discussing with my dad that while chivalry is certainly something I appreciate, there is a fine line between courteous behaviour being exuded from a male towards a female and treating a female as lesser than a male. When I say treating a female as lesser than a male, I am not referring to holding a door open for a woman or walking on the edge of the sidewalk that is closest to the road. When I say this, I am referring to something I personally encounter frequently while working for my dad on the farm, that something being how men can sometimes underestimate the capabilities of women when it comes to physical labor. Women are certainly less prominent in the context of agriculture than men, meaning that I am sometimes doubted my males in regards to my abilities to carry out the tasks my dad asks me to complete. If I need to go pick up chemical for my dad, for example, and such chemical is heavy, though not too much for me to handle, it is annoying that I am sometimes unable to load the chemical myself because a male working assumes I am physically unable to do so. If I ask for help, by all means help me, but if I do not, please allow me to do the task myself.
I was also conversing with my dad how in today’s society, a lot of women reject chivalry because they are trying to overcome the hegemonic ideal that women are inferior to men. I am definitely not saying it is a man’s intention to undermine a woman when he offers to provide her with some assistance, but I am saying that a lot of women interpret chivalry incorrectly and take offence to it as a result of the ways in which male patriarchy has been dominant in societal institutions for many years.
I do not believe chivalry is dead, but I do believe that it may die out in order to comply with gender equality.