FILE

Smith: Is chivalry gender-neutral?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditmail

In today’s more progressive society, the concept of chivalry needs to adapt so that it does not force men into gender norms.

By Wylliam Smith
wylliam-smith@uiowa.edu

As times evolve, the definition of chivalry must change. No longer are men viewed as the stronger sex that provides for the weaker female sex. Chivalry should be a trait all genders have.

Growing up, I was always taught to be chivalrous. To treat woman with respect, hold doors open for them, don’t hit a girl, if you go on date you pay for it, etc. I never thought anything of it, that’s just how I was raised, and to be honest, I will continue to do things like this for the rest of my life.

Chivalry was created in a time where women were seen as the weaker sex and men as the dominate protector and provider, so some of the attributes of the practice are a tad bit outdated.

But it’s almost 2018. Women are now seen as powerful individuals who don’t need a man to take care of them, and chivalry is a thing of the past. So I find myself asking the question, “Should chivalry die?”

RELATED: Smith: Gender norms affect men too

I believe chivalry does not necessarily need to die; rather, it should not to be expected of men. People of both sexes should not have an expectation of men to be chivalrous, and it should not be a requirement on the dating scene.

My friend brought this situation to my attention. Currently, he is in a relationship in which his girlfriend basically uses him as an ATM. Whenever they go out, he pays. He bought her books for college, and he lets her live with him rent-free.

This is not an inherently bad partnership, and some relationships are completely happy like this. I’m not saying that if your particular relationship status fits this description, you are doing anything wrong.

The problem I have with this type of relationship is the double standard. If these roles were reversed, then the man would be seen as a freeloader, and everyone would view him as being a bad spouse. I believe this exception sets up men who don’t fit the chivalrous standard to be jerks when that is not fully true.

This double standard reaches far beyond simple dating etiquette and into far more serious matters, such as woman on man violence and sexual assault. Each are seen as less serious than their female counterparts. Just look at any situation involving a man hitting a woman; it is immediately seen as domestic violence or assault, but you hardly seen the reverse posted all over the news.

RELATED: Smith: Rape does not discriminate

That double standard is a whole other argument in itself, but to expect chivalry from men is an element of this gender norm. I am not saying men should be rude to women by slamming doors in their faces and such. Chivalry doesn’t necessarily equal politeness.

I am saying chivalry should not be a male-exclusive quality. While being chivalrous is a sweet gesture, men being the provider, protector, and instigator should not be expected when going into a relationship, and chivalry should be able to go both ways.

Both sexes should each take part in chivalrous behavior. There’s nothing wrong with a woman deciding to hold the door open for her man, or for a man to let his girlfriend take him out for a romantic dinner.

So no, I don’t think chivalry should completely die, I believe that it should evolve with the times. In 2018, let’s give chivalry a more gender-neutral status.

Special Sections

Print Edition

Front Page PDF

Text Links