Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chivalry? I'll pass, but thanks.

Several of my friends posted this photo on pinterest saying that if we want to have men who are more chivalrous, we must be more feminine, in the recent past, and I have to admit in my feminist perspective, I have a really hard time stomaching it. Firstly, "chivalry" is defined by dictionary.com as: the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.
Those knights those values were modeled after, while may have been sworn by a code of honor to be chivalrous to the women of their own country, often found ways of pillaging, raping, killing, and enslaving women of other countries.

In a small discussion on facebook about the pin, one of the posters said she didn't mean chivalry from it's origins, but the more contemporary view. The idea of the Southern Gentleman. You know, the guy who opens the doors, who refuses to let a woman even think of paying for dinner, the guy who works hard to provide for his wife so she doesn't have to work and can instead stay home taking care of their children. That guy. That guy who was probably one in a million in those days. That same guy who always made a show of opening the door for his wife in public and talked down to her and treated her as property, while the nation allowed her to be treated as such. That guy who would never be with a woman who might have more money than him, that guy who would never let his wife work. That guy who doesn't have time for his wife and children, but instead comes home and goes to his study or out with friends while he drinks whiskey. That guy who only has time for his wife when he expects her to submit to him in bed. That's what the vast majority of women married to "Southern Gentlemen" with chivalrous values experienced. Those dependent women were miserable in their lives but had no other option, as the men in their family, chivalrous gentlemen controlled every aspect of it.

This isn't to say that some men aren't real gentlemen. Not all men who open doors and pay for dinner are jerks. But the men those ideals were based on, most likely were. I know of men who work hard to provide for their wives and children. Who work extra hours to ensure that their wives and children have nice, new clothes while theirs might be last years and a little worn. Those guys do exist, I've seen it.

It doesn't happen that way in my house. My husband worked hard when I was in college to provide for our future, even if that meant I would be the bread winner. I'm fine with that. He's fine with that. I wouldn't trade being financially mutual, feeling accomplished in my job and education, being able to share the feeling of equally providing for our family; I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Remember though, I was a stay at home mom for over a year, I've seen both sides of the coin and I prefer the one I'm on now.

Here's a quote on chivalry I can get down with, "We are told that men protect us; that they are generous, even chivalric in their protection. Gentlemen, if your protectors were women, and they took all your property and your children, and paid you half as much for your work, though as well or better done than your own, would you think much of chivalry?" -Mary B Clay

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Rikki said...

Since I pretty much suck at wording stuff correctly I'm just going to keep it simple and say I read her "what I believe" section and I completely agree with her and her values. Those are mine to-a-t. Also a lot of the "rules" on that guide I like and try to follow, not all but some. But it's not because I'm "supposed" to,or that my husband "expects" me too(because he doesn't). On a bad day some of those things don't happen and he's never said a word about it. I do it because I WANT to. I enjoy taking care of my husband and our home. I don't really think I should be judged for that, I don't judge women who choose to work like you mentioned. Everybody does what works for them and what makes them happy, I think that's great. So I give no judgement at all.

As for the chivalry/southern gentlemen thing. Yeah my husband is the epitome of a southern gentlemen, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Of course he isn't like either old fashion view of abusive jerks hiding behind the facade of a southern gentlemen. He is genuinely good to me and treats me like a queen, and trust me if he ever treated me like the women were treated back then or anything like what you mentioned. I wouldn't hesitate to set him straight(and then I'd wonder if hell froze over because my husband is nothing but a kind hearted, generous, and loving man)

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