Ok, so this episode of Ask J Doom is sooooooo controversial (at least I think it is) that I know it’s going to spark some sort of debate; but you know what? Good, this needs to be addressed. By the way, I didn’t cut my dreads, this is actually an old photo (don’t ask how old) but the only one where my facial expression resembled the one I had not to long ago. Before I continue, I want to make one thing VERY clear. I am by no means an anti-feminist. I think it is good that women are being assertive and competing with their male counterparts and breaking away from the traditional “housewife/full time mother profile”. That being said, what I DON’T support is people loosely throwing around terms like “Feminism” and “Chivalry” without fully having an understanding of what they mean, because anyone who understands what those terms mean, knows that they conflict in many ways. Why do I say this? I’m about to tell you right now pal.
So, I went on a first date with this attractive young woman from the upper east side (UES). I met her in front of her building and we went on a short walk to a restaurant. Being a gentleman that came up in the boroughs, I was always taught that you walk with women on the inside of the block unless you’re pimpin them (maybe it’s just a Bronx thing?). I asked her if she would mind walking on my left (inside) and explained why; she said she didn’t mind, but that I didn’t need to do that because she isn’t a damsel in distress. I smiled and responded “oh yeah?”, she nodded and then told me how she was a feminist and was a strong independent woman and doesn’t need a man for anything. When she told me that, in my head I was thinking “cool, a strong woman; I like that”; I was so wrong (at least about this particular one).
So we get to the restaurant after a short walk and I go to open the door for her and she goes around me and says “no, you go”. I shrug my shoulders and walk to the hostess and she takes us to our table. When we get to the table I turn to her and say “should I even try pulling out your chair?”. I said that jokingly, but it was obvious she felt some kinda way when she responded “I told you I don’t need no mans help for nothing”. I sighed realizing this was going to be an issue as pulled out my chair and sat down as I watched her do the same.
After what felt like an awkward meal, the waiter came around with the bill (finally) and then began what felt like an intense stare-down. I looked at the bill and said “I’ll pay the bill with my card and you can give me your portion of the tab”. That sounds reasonable enough right? I mean after all, she didn’t want me to do anything else for her, so why would she want me to pay her way right? WRONG. She scowled at my statement and said “That’s not very chivalrous of you” (remember my facial expression in the photo above? yep, this is where it comes into play). I looked at her and said “what do you mean?”. She replied “even though I can do it all myself, a REAL MAN wouldn’t let me”….
Hold up, so I can’t open doors, or pull chairs, (you know, gentleman type stuff) but I can pay your part of the check? To me it sounds like for her, feminism is a switch that she could turn on and off, which caused me to throw the bullshit flag in the air. So let me clear this up. There is no way, NO WAY, you can claim to be a feminist and expect chivalry; actually to be honest you can’t expect chivalry even if you aren’t. Why you ask? Because of the definition of both feminism and chivalry.
Feminism in the United States began back in the 1800’s with the women’s suffrage movement which was campaigned by such notable figures as Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who both lead the National Woman Suffrage Association; this was known as the first-wave of feminism. They believed that women were discriminated against by the laws of men and deserved to be in equal standing. Their efforts paid off when in 1920 the 19th amendment was passed which prohibited citizens from being denied the right to vote due to their gender. The second-wave began after WWII ended. During the war, women took the jobs of the men who were shipped off to serve in the war, and when the war was over, they felt that they were competent enough to keep those jobs that traditionally belonged to men. Less and less did women desire to be the traditional housewives of times past. 46 years later, the National Organization for Women was created. The third wave is where I personally think that things got muddled and what feminism was and wasn’t became blurred. It started in the 1990’s with no clear cut agenda or specific definition, supposedly in an effort to challenge the universal definition of what feminism is. As a result the modern face of feminism encompasses a variety of issues, but essentially equality for all.
Now chivalry is another topic all together. The chivalric code (better known as chivalry), is the traditional code of conduct followed by the knights of medieval times. Beginning as a German custom, it was a warrior code that placed emphasis on gallantry, respecting the honor of women, and service to others. Over the years, it became more associated with honor, and courtesy, and less with being a noble warrior. So that being said, when people (particularly women) say “chivalry isn’t dead” that couldn’t be further from the truth. That mindset changed over the years and eventually died out; however, there was an attempt to revive the concept in the 19th century to help identify the gentlemen of that time. So yes, chivalry is indeed dead, and has been for some time, however it’s remnant’s remain in courtesy shown by modern day men.
So what do I think? Like I mentioned before, I am a supporter of feminism; however what I believe is happening is something that has happened to many of the great movements in our time. The term encompasses a broad spectrum of interpretation which many take advantage of by using it out of context or applying it in when convenient, and when they don’t feel like being what the term would imply, the chivalry card is thrown in the air; in my case I was being sexist when I tried to be a gentleman, but when I did what I thought was equal (splitting the bill) suddenly I’m no longer chivalrous?
All things being equal, there should be no expectation as to who does what. Now I’m no feminist, but from what I learned about it, the point is to dispel the traditional gender roles (among other things), so while I wouldn’t have minded picking up the tab, I shouldn’t be expected to, nor should my chivalry be questioned if I opt to split it. The way I see it is, if it isn’t too much to expect me to pay your tab, it isn’t too much to expect some hot food in the kitchen.
By the way, big thanks to:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism_in_the_United_States for adding an element of validity to what I said.