Chivalry, in my understanding, is a code of conduct that men must abide by. This code includes everything from holding the door open for women to paying the bill on a date. These small acts of kindness were designed to benefit women. Feminism is the belief that women are equal and deserve nothing less than to be treated as such. Since the movement first started, it has made great strides in the fight for equality. This too was also designed to benefit women.
There have been a number of incidents in the past few years that have seemed to induce a resurgence in the feminist movement. Twitter has taught me many things but one of the most important of said things is that the fight for equality is far from over. As a millennial, I felt that it was my duty to adopt these values that weren’t too far from my own. I took them in my stride and I championed them, blindly, every time I was given the chance to. What I failed to do was to readjust my already existing beliefs to match this one. This left me in a perpetual state of confusion that I would never be aware of until the belief was challenged by a sharper mind.
Chivalry does nothing for equality; in fact, it negates it. It’s a code of conduct that only reinforces the idea that having a penis makes me superior. As heart-warming as it may be, me paying the bill on a date for the mere fact that I am a penis wielder, only makes me feel justified in holding on to my patriarchal beliefs. Paying the bill is neat and all but there is no chivalry in equal pay. If I am paying for the diners, the movies, and the gifts, then you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to believe taking more home for the same job is only fair.
It doesn’t stop there. Because I have invested more resources to woo you, I’m going to feel that cheating for me is a part of life but for you, its relationship suicide. Chivalry dictates that I must take care of my woman like she’s my toothbrush; in this analogy, I can go buy another toothbrush and use them both, but if someone else uses the first one then I can rightly say: “That’s your toothbrush now”.
I have seen people on twitter tweet about how women should be treated better than men, but then go on to preach equality. These two schools of thought don’t mix. In an ideal world, they could both thrive together but like most ideal worlds, their translation into the real world would be disastrous in the long-term.
I used to do this thing where I wouldn’t greet women I didn’t know if they were hanging around with some guys I did. I would just greet my boys, share a joke or two, and then be on my way. I found out recently that women find that offensive. At first, I got defensive and thought that it was because I didn’t want to impose myself on them and that I didn’t know how the guys around them would react to it. Now I see that in order for me to truly embody the spirit of feminism (if that makes you cringe then read: equality) then I need to either not greet everyone I don’t know (both male and female alike) or greet everyone like I know them (unless they tell me otherwise). I prefer the latter.
So what does this mean for our everyday lives? Well, it’s simple. As a gent, if I treat men and women differently then I should probably choose one and treat them all like that. I do most of that anyway so it shouldn’t be a problem. The only fault that I see in this paradigm is a very emotionally charged question that shakes this belief system to its core: Is it ok to hit a woman?
Firstly, for the sake of accuracy, we should distinguish the difference between abuse and getting physical. Of course, abuse can involve getting physical but getting physical doesn’t always equate to abuse. In the unlikely event that I find myself in a physical altercation with Ronda Rousey, I would swing to show that I was not going to allow myself to be bullied. The same goes for the equally unlikely event where I fight Floyd Mayweather. Now I would never intentionally pick a fight with either of these two fighting specimens but I use this example to build to a point.
My point is this: the answer to the question ‘is it ok to hit a woman?’ is that it depends on the situation. Our world is way too complicated for us to make moral statements that remain true in all circumstances. My best advice is to treat hitting a woman like the average person would treat murder. You generally wouldn’t kill someone for not answering your question about what time it is. In that same spirit, try treating us fellow penis wielders like that as well. I’m not tryna die over some spilt Cognac.