I'm going to apologize in advance-- I'm not nearly as eloquent as many of you. I'm one of your younger, sillier Atheists. I hope though that you still give my ideas a chance. Who knows, maybe my directness will prove refreshing!

Chivalry has always baffled me. In my mind it generally equates to "Men repressing the asshole side of their personality so that you will bear their young". To others, it means, "Open the door for me, pussy." I've always felt like men sort of do that sort of thing because their parents have always told them they have to. Like church. But maybe I'm wrong?

There's this boy in my art class. He took one of my besties to prom. He happened to hear that I went to a feminist lecture and he laughed a light (but direct), condescending laugh... which I ignored because I'm so... feminine. A few days later, I walk into class, and it's the first period of the day so the chairs are all stacked on top of the desks. I go to take my chair down, and this kid immediately starts yelling and runs over, takes my chair, and sets it down. I yell at him, mostly joking, and I point to Joe, sitting across from me and ask why he had to steal my chair instead of Joe's.

Him: "Because Joe's a MAN!"
Me: "Haahh, so you stole my chair because I'm a woman?!?" <-- Thought I was joking
Him: "YES!! ...It's not a BAD thing..."
Me: *says nothing in utter shock*

I marvel at this boy's idea of the world. He's in for a good shot of disillusionment in college. I've heard men complain at how women will get mad if you open a door for them, and also get mad if you won't. I've never seen this happen, personally, I think it's mostly a paranoia.

This is a bit different. This is not anything groundbreaking or horrid, but it did make me think. It's the equivalent of stopping a girl from 20 feet back, pushing her away from the door, and then opening it for her. It doesn't make anyone's life any easier. Meanwhile, poor Joe may be carrying a stack of boxes, and no courtesy is shed upon him.

So what have I done to deserve the "respect" that is portrayed through the opening of doors, walking of home, and picking up of pencils? (Maybe I'm not accustomed. When I went to prom, and the door was opened, I would literally wait a second or two before realizing it was for me.)

It sounds nice enough on the surface, but really, I don't think my vagina qualifies me for anything special that we can't bestow upon men as well. I've never been a huge fan of the feminism where we treat women like men. Really, I think we should be treating men like women.

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I think if Mr. Dumain got to know you, he might change his mind.
One would hope, eh?
Jezzy, please do not see the boy in your art class as representing chivalrous men. Chivalry, as we presently use the term, grew out of medieval knighthood on the assumption, understandable at the time, that women were weaker, softer, more charming, alluring and vulnerable, and needed the protection of a strong and armed champion to defend them from the predations common at that time and since. That we now see Sir Lancelot as an outdated symbol of a mythical romantic past does not alter the reality that normal healthy men have an innate natural need, if not compulsion, to protect women and children. The principle has a long venerable history: men to go war, not women. Women and children leave first off the sinking ship. It is I believe a natural urge that contributes to the continuation of our species.
Women have the babies and are most vulnerable in pre and actual motherhood. When dealing with women, men often submerge their natural aggression and/or anger in exaggerated gestures of deference. It is a defusing practice most of the time healthy for women and we euphemize it with the term, chivalry.
davison: "Women have the babies and are most vulnerable in pre and actual motherhood"

Yeah from being killed by the men who have some "innate need to protect them."
"Studies in recent years have found that outside of medical complications, homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women" (http://abcnews.go.com/US/LegalCenter/story?id=522184&page=1). I think hundreds and hundreds of years of misogyny speaks otherwise to your claim that men have only wanted to 'protect women and children.' Regarding wars.....those mainly were started by men and screwed women and children! The post sounds infantalizing to women. I mean, they can protect themselves and they can survive without men. Makes it sound like you view women as babies. Pretty offensive.
So a LOT of different circumstances have been brought up since I last read this thread.

Of course it is illogical to take offence to the act alone, but I think it's the ideas surrounding the act that one has right to take offence to. And of course, I have no more control over what ideals another basis their acts on, than they do mine. But I, as a woman, would prefer to be treated equally. Not better, not worse- but equally. Meaning that I personally would RATHER NOT have a door held open for me, by a man who WOULDN'T do the same, for another man.

No, this does not mean I can determine the reasoning behind every gesture, and change the way this person treats either sex. Likewise, if I began stepping aside, opening doors, and laying my coat onto the ground for all of my male friends and aquaintances, in no way would thes acts be within their control. But they may feel patronised, and therefore offended. Just as I would, if I knew someone was regarding my 'protection' above their own, purely based on typically percieved gender roles/conventions. And feeling patronised or offended, isn't the wrong way of responding to something.

I will agree that Chivalry WAS relevant to medieval times, because as you said, women were more vulnerable, and it was the accepted norm that all women planned to reproduce. Today, different women have higher levels of physical strenght than others, and we now participate in things that were once percieved as purely 'masculine.' We dress differently, we support ourselves financially, are able to achieve positions of political power, and many women make the choice not to start families, or have children. Therefore, I believe the assumptions that could safely be made about a men or women, cannot be made today. And to me personally, treating someone differently, based on sex ('chivalry' being one example of this), just seems... welll... oldschool.
I posted a link to a video about the origins of chivalry. I'll post it again. You might find it enlightening. Actually, the entire series, "Medieval Lives", is most educational.

In short, chivalry was a cult of violence. Knights were mercenaries. All the romantic twaddle about chivalry started in the Victorian era.

Some quotes from the video: "What exactly was chivalry? Well, it depended who you were. The knights themselves had no doubt what chivalry meant to them. It meant learning how to kill people, making money, and getting famous."

"Violence was intrinsic to the cult of chivalry, even, you may be surprised to learn, violence to women." - Terry Jones

According to Chrétien de Troyes, the great chivalric writer: "If a knight found a damsel alone, he would sooner think of cutting his own throat than of offering her dishonor." However, "If the damsel were accompanied by another knight, and if it pleased him to give combat to that knight, and win the lady by arms, then he might do his will with her just as he pleased, and no shame or blame whatsoever would attach to him."

women were more vulnerable

Yes and no. It depends on what period of the Middle Ages you're talking about, what part of the world you lived in, whether or not you were a Christian, and your social class. The upper classes certainly had more "protection" at hand, but they also could be held for ransom, married off to cement alliances, etc...

it was the accepted norm that all women planned to reproduce.

No, it wasn't. Nuns generally didn't plan to reproduce.

Today, different women have higher levels of physical strenght than others

It was the same back then. A peasant woman might be a bit stronger than a princess being married off to form an alliance.
Heres how I see it. Equal rights and chivalry cannot coexist with out problems. A basic presupposition of chivalry is that this hottie, is someone who is supposed to be treated differently. Specifically better in a good way. So its difficult to maintain, an equal balance between two people when the scales are tipped.
This post was a slap in the face to me! Not in a bad way though. I am in the beginning stages of atheism and questioning past views that I have held for only the sole reason that is what I was taught. This is one of those views I have never questioned. Hmm, I am going to go with manners with me though, I hold the door for almost anyone be it man or woman, but on the other hand on dates I find myself going out of the way to hold the door for my date. I will have to rethink my view on this.
Chivalry is a pretty much redundant concept in the modern western world. Much like everything else, its character is informed by its intent. That is to say, if a man carries something very heavy for you, it may be simple decency. If he carries it because he thinks you are too "delicate" or something, then it is condescending and actually insulting.
Mostly holding doors for people is a unisex activity these days. A common courtesy. Somethings had more practical reeasons in the past and are continued today as a tradition. Personally I wouldn't pull out a woman's chair for her. I think that is a bit ridiculous in the modern age but (and this may be instinctual) I would always offer to do a dangerous thing in place of a woman. There is in some ways a practicality to this also; men are simply hardier than women. That is not at all a criticism of women just a gender difference. There are a lot of possible societal reasons for this also. Women in a tribe were always less replaceable than men by virtue of the reproductive roles of the sexes. A tribe could lose all but a handful of its men and still have as many children in the next generation, not so it's women. Men were basically more expendable. I think there are natural instincts in men and women, men to want to protect women and women to want to be protected. They likely stem from the survival pressures of early social groups.

In modern times, a little show of chivalry can be a way for a man to express concern or respect too. No real harm in that.
I think a lot of my disagreements with some types of modern feminism is that they conflate in my mind, being treated equally and being treated the same. Men and women are different. It doesn't make any sense to treat them exactly the same. There should be equally in rights and privalige, that does not always entail exactly the same treatment. If I were attacked by women I would react very differently than if I were attacked by a man. Yes I am treating her differently and yes it would be expressly because she is a woman but that is because the consequences of my actions will also be different because she is a woman. I know I'll probably be put up against the wall for this, but women do tend to be more sensative than men also, to the likes of explicit language, agressive behaviour etc. This is not a criticism, just an observation. We often change our behaviour and our language or our mode of speech with different people. You probably don't talk to your grandparents in the same mode as you do your best friends. If we treat people diffently (I do not mean any kind of discrimation) according to many differnt criteria, why should gender be different?
Its not your vagina that qualifies you for special treatment, its your womb, and so it should. Chivalry is badly named because it comes from books like Ivanhoe which were written after the fact to try to condone or justify the slaughter that the British called the Crusades. Why did it need 'spin' so long afterwards??? Because the British were doing it again, slavery, colonisation, etc. They wanted this image of 'the big strong honourable white man, selflessly improving the non white world'. This was to appease a growing number of Europeans that were becoming uneasy as well as fill the believers with riteous fire. 'Onward Christian Soldiers' and all that. If we ignore the word's connotations and simply say 'any man behaving with extra courtesy towards any person because they are a woman,' I think we have a clearer view.
So why should a man open a door for me, well, I am 38 and have had 4 children, thats over 5 years of prenancy & breastfeeding. Quite often, if my belly isnt so big that it gets in the way I have a child (or 2) in my arms. And if I havnt, well damn it, Im tired. So yes, someone get the door please!
To be less glib about it - the fact is that men have a far greater muscle mass, more stamina, are larger etc (yes, yes, I know there are exceptions but I am talking about our evolutionary norm ) Men and women have evolved with these trait differences because these differences serve their different roles/functions. If it didnt work those traits would have died out , so because they do exist they MUST serve an evolutionary function. The only thing needed for any trait to be passed from generation to generation is that the individuals reproduce even a tiny bit more successfully, and pass on slightly more of their genes. That is very poorly described but I dont want to go into too much more detail as you may think I am going off track. My point is that men in a protective role is something that has taken an incredibly long time to happen and it happens because it works. Not because it is right or wrong, there is no value judgement here, no designer, it just works. The male/female size and strength ratio has been around since before we split off on our own evolutionary branch!!!
Unfortunatley as with many things the spectre of religioun raises its ugly head. Just as christianity (I know the jewish cult is older but I am less familiar with it) hijacked many pagan/druid/earth practises, like holy days from solstices, burning certain herbs and branches, christmas etc. So they took the difference between men and women and sullied and degraded it. Women for the first time were depicted as 'unclean', below and belonging to man. The reason for this seems clear to me, although I welcome discussion on the point, women were the intellectual power at the time. No I dont mean they were more intelligent at all. They had a more localised sedantry lifestyle, they were midwife to each other and healer. They had a much higher chance of reaching oldage. In short, put in religious terms, they were witches. They had to be subjugated and brought down. Men also were brought down by religioun but as an oppressor your job is halved if you can get half of you 'subjects' to oppress the other half.
I consider myself to be a true feminist, Ihave sons and daughters and value them equally. I value myself as highly as any man. I am however different, very different and I celebrate the difference. I do not appreciate being told be militant feminists that I am being oppressed because I have the honour to stay at home with my babies and nurture them. I find it far more damaging to told I should also have some high flying career (open your eyes sister I do!) I think getting hung up on opening doors, or calling yourself Ms, or not shaving your legs is missing the point, its a fish bone in the throat of revolution. There is much work that needs to be done across the board on equality. I feel like many of the suffragettes, you must fight for the whole, not single issues. Many of the suffragettes did not want to fight for the vote, they saw, wisely that it was such a headliner that it would get in the way and end the struggle as a whole, which it did. Their argument was that if they won equality the vote would happen anyway, but getting the vote would not automatically give them equality. The very fact that we are having this conversation proves they were right. We need equality all over. My brothers and sisters around the world must enjoy the same health care, trading laws, right to justice, freedom from persecution and torture. No one group deserves equality more or less than anyother and whilst we choose tiny fights we will be granted tiny victories that are fairly meaningless. I am not saying 'shut up' I am saying 'step it up', see the interconectedness of oppression. I actually believe if evolutionary theory was properly taught across the globe it would only take a couple of generations for there to be a massive shift in global thought. Imagine no group of people, anywhere, thinking they were supperior to any other group. Its not going to be in my lifetime but its something to shoot for.

So Jezzy, my advice would be, the next time someone opens a door for you smile and ask them are they doing this as a Darwinian or theist gesture, and take it from there. Peace X
I would love to see that; someone opens a door for a woman and she asks the guy if his motivations are Darwinian or theistic :)

You were right about the womb thing. Historically men were simply less important for the survival of the tribe than women were. You could lose a whole lot of men and still have good numbers in the next generation, not so if you lost a lot of women. Women were the future of the tribe.
I believe it is from this simple fact of early tribal life (innumerable generations of it) that the male protection of women became innate. The opening of doors and such was a way to socialise the instinct. Men for the most part still have an innate instinct to protect women. It is not always so of course and it wars with other instincts. Men have an innate instinct to be dominant also. It is quite easy for men to dominate women given the differences in strength, aggression and so on. It seems completely in keeping with the history of our species that most societies became patriarchal, being both oppressive to and protective of women. Consider warfare in the modern age. Whilst strength and stamina etc are still valuable in a soldier, they are not really necessary any more. I think the composition of most armies in the world will remain primarily male. Most people, men or women still see the killing of a man as a little less bad than the killing of a woman. Would it seem strange and deeply sexist to hear on a news report “The gunmen killed 12, including women and children”

While I think we should favour our intellect over our instincts, I don’t think we gain anything by flogging ourselves for having those instincts. I genuinely don’t think that most men who do hold doors for women are doing because they think women are “weak”. I think they genuine believe it to be a sign of respect. I personally hold the door for anyone, when appropriate but don’t even think about it; common courtesy basically.

Most men like to be protective of women and most women like to feel protected. Natural instincts that provide a survival advantage.

Religions are particularly odious in that they try to make male dominance into a proper and respectable thing. That it is how it should be.
For men who want to dominate the women around them, religion is just the ticket. You can be self-aggrandising, woman-hating, misogynist and be a good and righteous Christian/Muslim at the same time. Muslims have taken it to the extreme. Stoning a woman for being raped as it must somehow be her fault. Men are virtuous and wise and women are base and ever wanting to seduce men away from righteousness.
Women are forced to dress like ninjas “for their own good” of course.

Men will likely remain dominant in human societies for a long while yet. Men are more aggressive and in some ways are forced to be more successful in order to be socially successful. If a woman is the non-working wife of a very successful man, she is not looked at as a free-loading waste of space but a man in the same situation would be. If a woman is attractive she will have no trouble attracting potential mates. A attractive guy who is unemployed and uneducated will not find it so easy. These attitudes can similarly be traced to genetic and early societal pressures. Regardless, men seek monetary and political power more than women do in general, so more men than women will achieve it. This doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. If equality can be achieved, it really wouldn’t matter much. I shudder to think of all the wasted talent that misogynist, patriarchal societies have left untapped by ignoring women. Imagine if Marie Curie had lived in a slightly more misogynist time. I wonder how many Curies have gone unheard in history.

Sorry, I rambled way off topic! I’ll shut up now.
I don't really take offense to it, I just wish they wouldn't. It's just kind of a bubble-invasion. Someone who clearly needs the door opened (like someone with kids) is different, and it doesn't matter in that case if they are male or female.

I'm iffy on the evolutionary argument at times. I think the differences between the sexes are exaggerated and compounded by conditioning and social role-playing. Female is the default gender, I don't feel proud or ashamed of being female, I just am. I bring this up because, well, I imagine that this isn't by any means how you meant it, but part of your speech sounded like what I hear in Mormonism a lot, where a woman's place is to procreate and be a wife and mother, and that it doesn't make women "less", it's just a different role. If that's the case, and even if it's not God-given roles and instead it's evolutionary... screw that. I don't feel that way.

I don't understand the children thing or why is has to be so relevant. It shouldn't be an issue until you're ready and willing to have kids. I'm 18, I certainly hope men aren't thinking, "omg child-bearer!!" before they open the door? Don't get me wrong, from what I feel it's horrifically painful to bear children and that deserves respect. But that's childbirth-- not "being" female.

I also find it sad, the men-as-protectors side of things, because nowadays, what women could potentially need men to protect them from... is mainly other men. I don't know that I could deal with someone who had a strong protector instinct (one that made me feel weak or not respected), which is okay because I enjoy being single.

I guess I'm frustrated by that because I want an equal partner (if any). The stereotype (which the evolutionary argument sometimes backs up) is that as a woman I want another dad, or a guy who will take care of me, protect me, whatever such pith. Not really, I want a companion who doesn't treat me weird or think he has to do this or that because I'm a woman. And this change basically happened naturally as I rejected gender roles and stopped hating myself. Is it harder for men to break past that, or not possible...?


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