Home > Women & Feminism > Let’s Kill Chivalry!

Let’s Kill Chivalry!

March 5th, 2010

Recently on Facebook, an acquaintance put up a status message that read, “I have never ever paid for meals when in the company of men, and I won’t, not even on Women’s Day.”

On reading her note and that of commentors, to say that I was surprised would be an understatement. Both male and female commentors seemed to agree. Among the comments were ‘long live chivalry’, ‘like to feel pampered’, and ‘A Man Who Lets Women Pay Is Not Man Enough’ (this last one, from a guy).

I placed a note there that I disagreed, but FB didn’t seem like the place to get into a long discussion. Hence this post…

I do have a major problem with the whole idea of chivalry, of which expecting men to pay is one. This doesn’t mean that I’ve never let a man pay for a coffee or lunch. Sure, I have, but on the other hand, I’ve also footed mine and his bill a number of times, and I don’t see why not.

To me, chivalry is part of the whole big idea of what a man should do and what a woman should do - in short the rigid codification of social rules for men and women. A man must pay, a woman should never. If we are sweeping away such rigidity in every other area of life, why persist here?

This rule made sense in an age when women rarely ever had their own money; naturally, men had to pay. Today, when I earn as well as most men of my acquaintance, I don’t see why anyone else should necessarily pay for me. Pampering doesn’t come into it - of course, most people like to be pampered once in a while, but that doesn’t mean you never pay for any meal with a guy. Plus, many such meals/coffees could be with guys I only know peripherally - I don’t see why they need to pamper me.

Expecting a guy to always foot the bill is also unfair - what if the guy is low on cash at the end of the month? Will he not feel uncomfortable saying that? In any case, it’s his hard-earned money too - why does he have to spend it on me?

Expecting a guy to foot the bill always is to me like expecting a guy to open the door or give up his seat for me. I don’t want special treatment because I’m a woman, but I do want courteous treatment as everyone in a civilized society should expect. Which means, everybody, male or female should offer a seat to a pregnant woman, disabled women and men, old women and old men.

I see some disconnect with demanding equality if we are not going to also take up an equal share of responsibilities. Mind, I don’t mean one has to strictly divide the bill into two each time - but, you get the general idea!

apu Women & Feminism

  1. March 5th, 2010 at 14:08 | #1

    Just so, Apu. Chivalry is all about putting women on pedastals. I want to be treated with respect and courtesy, as a person. To me, someone who is ‘chivalrous’ has an image in his mind of what I ought to be, not any insight into the real person me.

  2. March 5th, 2010 at 17:21 | #2

    Apu, agree completely! Chivalry is Chavinism in pretty robes.

  3. March 5th, 2010 at 18:11 | #3

    I agree , times have have changed and so has the thinking

  4. March 5th, 2010 at 18:36 | #4

    I can never let a guy pay for a coffee/lunch always. I have almost fought and paid the bill at times, esp when guys try to take the whole chivalry bit a lil too long for my liking.

  5. March 5th, 2010 at 19:08 | #5

    In the USA a boss invites his sub ordinate for a lunch cum discussion meeting at a restaurant and each one pays his own bill. In India a boss would get offended if he had to pay the bill even if he is earning much more than the junior colleague. Better still he would expect his company to foot the bill or if possible stare hard at the bearer who dared to even bring the bill to his table. Similarly many of our girls think it is somehow wrong for a man to allow women to pay the bill as if they are entitled to a treat even if the man in question is just an acquaintance. Isn’t the fact that he is graced by her company enough reason for him to pay the bill?

    More than anything else I think our society needs to evolve and with time this too shall pass. It is only recently that men have learnt to accept the fact that women too are capable of reaching for the skies. similarly women have begun to realize that their earning money needs to be correlated to self respect and it won’t do them any good to portray themselves as a group that needs to be pampered all the time and to an annoying extent.

  6. March 7th, 2010 at 01:38 | #6

    I am split in half on this one. I feel very uncomfortable if anyone (male or female) else tries to pay the bills. I think it has something to do with my dad insisting on footing the bills whenever we are in a group. I got to do the same…I have annoyed a lot of my friends due to this as they don’t think it’s fair that I pay all the time and they have a point so I have now learned to back down.

    And yet again, my dad always opened the door for women, gave up his seat for them and yet again, that’s again how I expect others to behave. I feel uncomfortable if they don’t. I usually call them manner-less gits.

    The question of these behaviors being part of women’s right never bothered me. When it comes to money, I understand your point but I don’t get what’s so wrong with a man opening the door for me? To me it shows a good grooming at home. It’s such a pleasant change from those mindless buffons on the road who will bump in you to feel you up. I don’t like the concept of grouping these two categories together (both being chauvinistic and disrespectful to women). I prefer gentlemen with their opened doors. I like chivalry though not for paying bills but rest of the deal, me likey..big time likey.

  7. choxbox
    March 7th, 2010 at 14:03 | #7

    Hi Apu. Agree with you.

    Slightly tangential - the provision for ‘Best Woman Student’ in my B.Tech days that we fought hard to get removed. If we are capable enough we’ll win the medal for Best Student. Why treat us as a special category?

  8. apu
    March 8th, 2010 at 06:47 | #8

    thanks all for your comments. short answer since travelling. richa, my point is that all well behaved people will help each other. no problem with men opening doors for me but i would not hesitate to do the same for them. chox, totally agree. uma, u take the prize for one of the best comments on this blog…

  9. March 8th, 2010 at 07:25 | #9

    I agree.

  10. March 8th, 2010 at 07:27 | #10

    @choxbox

    You do deserve the best comment award here :)

  11. March 8th, 2010 at 12:26 | #11

    Thank God that women like Richa still exist. Reading this blogpost and all the other comments, I was feeling like a dinosaur. As a man, I was brought up to be careful never to be condescending or patronising, but otherwise always to act with women as Richa’s father did. If he and I are male chauvinists, some day some women will thank God the tribe hasn’t entirely vanished. What would you all rather have: lechers and brutes all around you? Aren’t they too common already? By the way, my wife doesn’t find it demeaning to her self-respect that I never allow her to change tyres on the road! and after reading all the above, she simply smiled and said ‘Many of these girls need a lot of growing up to do…’

  12. choxbox
    March 8th, 2010 at 15:08 | #12

    *takes a bow*

    Incidentally the Best Allrounder Student was won by a woman in my batch. Made our fight extra special :)

  13. March 15th, 2010 at 09:49 | #13

    Suvro, my response is the same as I said to Richa - good manners is welcome and required, from everyone - not just from men. Why does one need to choose between leching and chivalry? That is a false choice. One can be perfectly good mannered, without being chivalrous, and this applies to women too. As for your wife’s comment, I think most of the commentors here are grown women, physically and mentally, not “girls.”

  14. March 19th, 2010 at 21:28 | #14

    In some matters, good manners in the guise of chivalry are necessary.

  15. March 19th, 2010 at 21:31 | #15

    But I didnt mean in paying bills. I had some other situation in mind.

  16. April 11th, 2010 at 00:35 | #16

    Agree, completely.

    I used to pride myself on being a feminist. With age and experience I find I have mellowed, and become more practical. Will read other posts labeled feminism here, I’m curious about my own reaction :)

  17. April 12th, 2010 at 10:58 | #17

    Welcome, Arundhati. If by being “practical”, you mean choosing your battles, I can understand…but why the “used to” pride myself on being a feminist?

  18. April 18th, 2010 at 23:27 | #18

    Nice post. My take-away from this is that good manners and chivalry get mixed up. Opening a door (or even just making sure the door doesn’t swing into the next person’s face!) or pulling out a chair can be done in a condescending or a considerate manner.

    But giving up a seat just shows you care…maybe chivalry was invented to make sure consideration was shown…but somewhere it’s been transformed into a concession, an allowance for someone ‘weaker’…and that’s not okay.

  19. Nikhil
    November 25th, 2011 at 15:41 | #19

    I agree! Being courteous is not a gendered responsibility. Going Dutch is a way to go, if it isn’t one person treating the other or if you’re with an acquaintance or colleague.

    Everybody likes to be pampered once in a while, be it a guy or a girl. Pampering somebody out of love regardless of gender is what makes somebody feel special.

    Giving away seats to or opening doors for old people, pregnant women, women or men with an infant along with loads of luggage, disabled men or women is being polite and helpful. However giving away seat to an able bodied woman just because she is a woman shows a little condescension. Many guys may not see it that way but Chivalry in medieval times referred to the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight especially courage, honor, justice, and a “readiness to help the weak”-womenfolk considered frail at that time fell into this category.

    There are many men who misconstrue it for respect-they may act all gentlemanly but feel that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and she’d be thankful to her husband for everything her husband provides her with. Not all the guys who show this special courteousness to women mean to demean women though. I have seen a few who believe in egalitarian relationship do this to their ladies and others simply “as mark of respect”-that’s what they think. However, there are plenty of men abound who feel cheated somehow-they think if a woman wants equality she should be ready to carry out many tasks by herself, playing frail and asking your male colleague to carry a bag to 4th floor is taking unfair advantage of your gender.

  20. Nikhil
    November 25th, 2011 at 15:46 | #20

    Also I came across another arguement lately. A guy believes that helping a woman who’s being molested is somehow an act of chivalry and if girls want chivalry to end, then they shouldn’t ask for men’s help in such a scenario. I am amused. Because I thought helping a person of any gender or age or caste or creed in such a scenario where somebody’s being harmed entails humanity not chivalry. It’s about standing up against such atrocious behavior whether you are a male or female. What’s your take?

  21. June 18th, 2012 at 12:45 | #21

    I am revisiting this post after a long time. Interesting to see that nobody has responded to Nikhil’s poser in seven months! Personally, Nikhil, given the kind of mindset revealed here, if I saw a girl being molested and I was in a position to help, I’d quiz her whether she’d classify the help under ‘good manners’ or ‘chivalry’, and if she says it’s the latter (which, of course, being a stern feminist, she’d have none of), I’d simply walk away. Much better than being scorned afterwards for being sooo insufferably old-fashioned!

  22. June 18th, 2012 at 12:47 | #22

    … and yes, I am wholly of the opinion that we should ‘kill’ chivalry, but not quite for reasons that the blogwriter would like to hear about.

  1. March 17th, 2010 at 19:25 | #1