Friday, August 5, 2011

Column: 'The Chivalry Code - he says she says' for Biscuit Magazine

For the August issue of Biscuit Magazine, which you can read the lovely pages of here. This will be a regular feature that should be a lot of fun!

Chivalry committed suicide in an existential crisis a few years before the turn of the century. He couldn’t stop thinking back to the days he was respected among men and valued by women, wondering what his place was in this brave new world. He is survived by generations of men, unsure of how to navigate the courting phase of a relationship without him as a guide. 

Let me say I am a feminist, and my partner insists he is, too. Why should I, he asks, get foot rubs and free drinks just because I have lady-bits? Don’t I want equality? So, neither of us get unreciprocated foot rubs and we buy our own drinks. It is lovely to be given a jacket when it’s raining, or have a heavy bag carried. But in my own way, I show my partner little tokens of respect we shall call ‘womalry’ in return. Actually, let’s not call it that ever again. 

I don’t agree with women who find it offensive when men open doors for them or offer to give up their seat on a bus. I see these gestures as an act of goodwill between fellow humans rather than an expression of masculine dominance. It does upset me, however, that popular culture still deems it okay for a woman to slap any man who’s acting like a tosser, and he’s to laugh it off or perhaps even apologise.  Would we ever allow the reverse situation into our living rooms? When I tried this move on once, years ago, my pathetic defence was ‘but you’re stronger than I am’. In excusing such blatant double standards, we lose sight of the ultimate feminist ideal – equality.

Doesn’t everyone, no matter what genitalia they have, really just want to be treated with respect? Both sexes need to practice basic manners and the delicate art of accommodating the needs of others. That’s what the issue comes down to, rather than adhering to a blanket set of rules for all situations. It is inexcusable that we allow pregnant women or people with disabilities or injuries to stand on public transport. Whenever they do, every person without the balls to give up their seat is to blame, whether they’ve actually got a pair or not.

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