Is my shining armour sexist?
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 11, 2014
I believe in equal rights—at least, I want to. I believe I’m like a lot of other men, straddling the line between sexist and feminist, teetering back and forth by the push and pull of social expectation and traditional beliefs. Yes, I’m the kind of guy who wants to hold the door open, who wants to pull the chair out, and who also wants to split the bill at the end of the night. I want to be chivalrous, but what does that word even mean anymore?
Men pride themselves on being financial supporters. If my situation were different, I would pay for everything, despite the fact that my female counterpart will be earning the same amount or more. After all, a woman’s success is her success, not my failure by any means.
Yet, there is still this stigma towards a woman treating a man in certain situations, mainly in public—maybe it’s all in my head, but I don’t believe it is. I know that deep down men still strive to be the dominant gender. We feel good when we can open jars for her, do heavy lifting for her, and even put a roof over her head. It’s not that we consider our mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives, etc. to be inferior, but like I said, we’re proud.
Women would argue that men do not need to be chivalrous; they only need to be polite and respectful. Many feminists will say that women don’t need men to protect them because they are not damsels in distress. But men want to protect women and save them from distress, even if there isn’t any. Guys, how many times did you feel the need to walk a girl home at night, or at least to the bus stop or the SkyTrain station? You know, because her safety matters. Girls, how many times did you judge a guy for not offering or for outright refusing to take you home? What a lazy thoughtless bum, right?
I don’t want to feel responsible, but I do. I know that if something does happen to her, I would feel guilty, and that is just the way I was moulded to feel. Sure, it wasn’t my fault. I’m not a superhero, I’m not even a mall security guard, but when a man can’t protect those he cares about, then in a way, he can’t call himself a man. It might be my generation’s narcissism or it might just be my own insecurity; either way, I feel a greater need to protect the women in my life than the guys. I’ll hold the door open for you, dude—while I’m here anyways.
It might be the fact that men have been mistreating women since the dawn of time, and there will always be dick heads out there. That was why chivalry existed during medieval times, to protect women from those dick heads. Now in the modern age, the measuring stick is not that apparent for either gender. But guys, whether you are a feminist or not, normal human decency will always ring through; it’s more important than any useless labels.
With all that being said, the chivalry period is over. But that doesn’t mean us guys can’t still do the things Prince Charming did. Yes, we should still open doors, we should still pull out chairs, and hell, we should split the bill once in a while—not only with women, but with all people.