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Is Chivalry sexist?

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Initial post: Jan 16, 2013 7:00:58 AM PST
Doog37 says:
I work in an office with many elevators and often I observe men, in what I perceive as an act of chivalry, letting women go first entering and exiting elevators.
Now this is a small thing but I find the act to sexist as at its core it is showing a different behavior towards men and women.
So I ask is chivalry sexist?

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 7:11:04 AM PST
YoYoTweat says:

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 7:15:54 AM PST
El Emmarino says:

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 7:19:17 AM PST
No, it's just having good manners.

I hold the door open for men also. I also let people regardless of sex walk before me too. It's just being polite... something that seems to be on the verge of extinction nowadays.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 7:26:02 AM PST
Let me think says:
Technically, Yes.... but who cares.... many women (and men) feel good about letting a woman go before a man into the elevator. Personally if I open a door I will hold it for open for anyone to go before me.... for an elevator it would depend on who was standing there waiting for it first.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 7:29:45 AM PST
Xaa says:
When it is done solely based on gender it is sexist in its most technical definition. If you always defer to any person in the elevator with you, it is neither chivalry nor sexist, it's just polite.

The continual conditioning to both the male and female, over time, that she is in need of special care sends silent messages to both parties that almost certainly come to play in subjective matters.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 7:38:28 AM PST
Ted says:
I think the word you're looking for is "etiquette".

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 7:44:34 AM PST
Emily B. says:
I explained to coworkers a couple of weeks ago that chivalry is a Western invention because in Asia, women are second-class citizens who walk behind men. That's sexist, in a negative way. I much prefer chivalry, which is technically sexist, but in a positive way.

The only part of the elevator thing that annoys me is when a man is the closest person to the exit. It makes more sense for him to simply step out and then everyone else--men and women--can get out more easily. He shouldn't stand there and wave the women out first. So, chivalry is welcome, yes, but please exercise good sense when performing it :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 7:47:47 AM PST
MsLiberty says:
I agree with Xaa. If I perceive the action as sexist, I thank the person (would anyway), and return the favor at the next opportunity. For example, if a man holds the elevator door in a manner that it clearly sexist, I hold the door for him while saying, "Please, allow me." If he has any manners at all, he will not see this as an affront. It's a non-confronational way to guide him toward mutual respect without the "man help woman" stuff. :)

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 7:50:40 AM PST
AlChemE says:
I would say no, it is not sexism. Sexism generally implies prejudice or discrimination based upon gender. While you could make a weak argument that this is a form of discrimination, it is really more of a social custom that does not denigrate or harm anyone (in my opinion). Different behavior based upon gender does not necessarily meet the definition of sexism.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 7:57:53 AM PST
Choosy says:
Ted, I agree with you. Chivalry is much more than good manners, which is what the OP is describing.
It is sexist to assume only men can be chivalrous.
Any person that gives aid to someone who is suffering is acting in a chivalrous manner. A good example of one leading a chivalrous life is Mother Teresa.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 7:59:34 AM PST
Choosy says:
I like your response AlChemE.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:00:42 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 16, 2013 8:01:57 AM PST
Xaa says:
We have to be careful with that concept AlChemE. And before I get going, I agree that in our culture the elevator/door is absolutely intended as observance to a social custom. I should also divulge that I am male as that is pertinent to my viewpoint.

The problem is that over time, the person who must go first or who is not able to hold the door etc begins to receive this as an implication that they are not capable or as capable to perform these tasks and because of that they are demeaned even though the intention is an act of kindness.

Thirty years ago as a teenager I had just gotten my driver's license and was going to take the family car to my job in the morning. I remember finding a note from my dad to my brother asking him to back the car out of the garage. To my dad, it was saving me the hassle of getting the car (1971 Impala Gigantic) out of the garage, to me it was a tacit expression about my skills as a driver. It's a fine line.

I think MsLiberty has it nailed. Be willing to accept the gesture in return without hesitation or argument.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:15:58 AM PST
is a man paying for a date sexist? of course but most people woudn't think of having it any other way.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 8:20:59 AM PST
LegoGirl says:
MsLiberty said: <<<<For example, if a man holds the elevator door in a manner that it clearly sexist...>>>>

I'm curious to know what that looks like. I guess I'm unaware of all the various sexist door-holding methods.

My parents taught me never to take offense where none was intended. Simple.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:32:07 AM PST
Nanciejeanne says:
That is a good question...I don't really know. I think that holding a door for someone who may appear less strong than you, is always a good idea (say, a woman holding a door for an elderly gentleman.) Or someone helping a woman put a large box in her car. Helping isn't gender-specific.

I don't mind if a man doesn't hold a door for me. And I think the days are gone where women are judged as the "fairer sex" or something where we can't hold a simple door or have a job (at least I HOPE those days are gone!) I DO mind when a man OR a woman doesn't hold a door for me if I have packages or a stroller or something. Politeness out of kindness--yes. "Chivalry" if it is simply a gender thing--no.

When it comes to paying, I think whomever INVITES another on a date should be the the pay-er. And I think it is "chivalrous" for a woman who may be dating a man for a while to share with expenses. I always offered to pay on dates when I was young and single. I just didn't think it was fair for the man to always pay. Now, if one party chooses an expensive place, they should offer to pay for their guest. The other can reciprocate next time.

Politeness and caring for other people doesn't equal "men doing stuff FOR women"...or even vice versa. It is just being sensitive to needs and feelings of another and doing what you can to not take advantage of anyone.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:39:28 AM PST
Elo says:
I guess male and female restrooms are sexist too.

We've gotten so tied up in knots over stupid B.S. like this that no one knows which way is up anymore. If I don't hold open a door for a woman, or open and close a car door for a date, or don't offer to pay the check on a date I'm crude and bad-mannered. If I happen to do any of those things for a feminist then I'm a sexist pig. No wonder everyone's so damn confused about how to act and how to treat one another.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:40:03 AM PST
rlynow? says:
Chivalry is based on knighthood. When we had knights, things were different. Modern chivalry is behaving as a gentleman, which often means treating women in a manner different than men. Blame the ERA and it's non-passage for a huge amount of sexism, be it negative or positive.

On that note, if I'm getting ragged on for being polite (opening doors, pulling out chairs, allowing people to go before me, etc.), that person can shove it. I was raised to be polite, and I always will whenever possible.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 8:46:24 AM PST
PJ says:
Get over yourself.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 8:46:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 16, 2013 8:54:10 PM PST
Intrepid says:
Is "common" courtesy a wanton display of sexuality? No. Having a reputation for being rude would not improve your life.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:48:24 AM PST
Xaa says:
Well Elo, just because folks say it's technically sexist doesn't mean they are calling you a sexist pig. That's a pretty big stretch.

It's about being sensitive to what you put out there and NOT requiring people to understand your intent, but rather you understanding their sensitivities and point of view. The burden of communication rests with the speaker. In the case of this nonverbal communication, it rests with the initiator.

Although I believe our modern chivalry is based in sexism, I personally open doors, wait at elevators, direct the wait staff to take the orders from all ladies first etc. Most of the time it is accepted as the custom that I am intending. If I get a hint that it is being received as the sexism from which it is based, I curtail it.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:49:13 AM PST
She says:
Look up the "laws" or terms of Chivalry and you would not even ask the question. Etiquette or simple good manners such as hold a door for either male or female, yes mam yes sir, giving your seat to someone in need and the Big ones PLEASE, THANK YOU and YOUR WELCOME all need (in my opinion) need to be to be taught and used whether you are male or female. The golden rule Treat people the way you want to be treated..

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2013 8:52:10 AM PST
Xaa says:
Exactly She. Treat ALL people the way you want to be treated. Not just the ladies.

Courtesy and Care for the rest of society need not be driven down gender lines.

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:52:33 AM PST
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Posted on Jan 16, 2013 8:59:20 AM PST
Dead_Cow says:
Chivalry and etiquette are not the same thing. Etiquette is just having good manners to people you meet. Chivalry has come to imply how a man treats a woman, so I'd say the term, by today's definition is sexist. That said, there is nothing wrong with being sexist if you're using it to put someone on a pedestal (or being sexist in a positive manner). If you're keeping your girl in the kitchen, and ignoring her for everything except for your whims, then that's a pretty rotten way to treat someone, no matter what you call it, but it's being negatively sexist.

Just treat people how you want to be treated or better and all these terms that define us evaporate.
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Discussion in:  Gold Box forum
Participants:  53
Total posts:  69
Initial post:  Jan 16, 2013
Latest post:  Jan 22, 2013

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