I was reading this article on chivalry in the TOI blog section where the author (Pooja Bedi) makes the claim that men must treat a woman “like a lady” and that if the guy can afford it, asking their partner to pay for half the meal is boorish. Specifically, she would be “taken aback”. I found myself thinking “Really?” Taken aback? Why does the idea of a woman paying for half the meal “take you aback”?
None of us are new to people self righteously proclaiming things like “Women are like god”, “The purity of a family depends on the woman”, “Women are the backbone of society” blah blah blah. Then turning around and in the same breath demanding that they conform to their social roles of subservience. It seems that treating women overly delicately and abusing them are two sides of the same coin. It is precisely those people who think women are special who also impose unfair expectations on them.
Are we serious about gender equality? If we are, then women need to voluntarily give up all the “perks” that are traditionally forced on them. Only then do we have a platform for equality. It doesn’t wash if a woman views herself as equal to a man in all important areas of life, and expects the guy to foot the bill when they go out together solely due to her gender!
Yet there are some who cling to notions of chivalry. “A woman likes to be taken care of”. Oh really? Guess what, I’m a guy and I’d like to be taken care of too! As long as there are no consequences, why not? But that’s such a loaded statement. Like I said before, “taking care of woman” can justify special treatment – like controlling her for her own good. You can’t divorce one attitude from the other. It’s all or nothing.
It seems that treating women overly delicately and abusing them are two sides of the same coin.
I have the feeling that most right thinking women will agree with me – that chivalry needs to die. No one is talking about disrespecting women – or any human being for that matter. I will treat a woman as I treat everyone else. With decency unless I have reason not to. And if I go on a date, I will expect a girl to share the bill on her own. I would expect her to feel offended if I offered to pay the whole bill.
For those who bemoan the bad manners of this age where no one holds a door open for a woman because she is a woman, I say good riddance. About bloody time. The times – they be a changing. As a side note, I regularly hold the door open for others – not just women, but men as well. You don’t need useless concepts of chivalry to be polite to others. Be decent to everyone – not just women.
Those who think that I’m taking this equality thing too far should realize that it’s the little things that sculpt our attitudes. The minor reinforcements to our world views that justify our behavior. As long as we treat women differently, that sets the stage for having double standards towards them in other ways as well. It’s time we figured out that women are people like everyone else. Not delicate wall flowers that need our protection.