If men’s kindnesses toward women were really only kindnesses, a man would be pleased if another man or woman offered these kindnesses to him. He would be pleased if another man or woman lit his cigarette or pulled out his chair for him. He would be pleased to derive his income, prestige, power and even his identity from his partner. He would take pride in another man’s or woman’s offer to walk him to his car at night. But in fact, “one of the very nasty things that can happen to a man is his being treated or seen as a woman, or womanlike.
Yeah! This reality hit me a few months ago when a teenage boy at work said to another teenage boy, “ladies first!” in order to insult him. Chivalry is not about respect or kindness.
Chivalry is not /always/ about kindness or respect. Like many other acts, it can be loving or presumptuous or self-serving.
I’m sure many men would feel insulted to be compared to a woman, even in the best way possible, that man would be reacting with sexism. However, how often is a woman insulted by being called manly? Masculine? Is that woman’s offense also sexist? What if the commenter meant it as complimentary? Is attaching gender to an attribute itself inherently sexist?
Perhaps some of us are offended not because we so thoroughly disrespect the opposite gender, but because we are being judged in a way that does not correlate to our own sense of self?
I’m sure we all have moments of both. I myself am a woman who many would attach stereotypically masculine traits to. And in doing so, also often make assumptions about my sexuality. When I was younger, this was extremely distressing. Now I’m largely unfazed. I don’t know what that says about me now.
Additionally, my husband looks very much like the quintessential man. Tall, well built, and with an attractive 5 o’clock shadow. He’s also gentle, nurturing, sensitive, and not very handy. He shies from conflict. Some would find these latter attributes positive in a woman. Some would see them as faults in a man.
Perhaps being mindful of judgmental stances in general will move us past sexist tendencies in our thoughts, comments, and actions.
I, myself, like holding the door for my husband and he has always thanked me for my kindness.