Is Chivalry Sexist? Maybe Not…

Not too long ago, I went to Home Depot.  As I entered the store, a nice elderly man greeted me.  I asked him where I could find the cordless drills.  He proceeded to tell me about all of the places in the store I could find them and depending on what type I wanted, the best places to go.  He was a friendly and kind man and he reminded me of my grandfather-in-law who passed away a few years back.

When I was a child, I didn’t really have any grandparents.  My ex-husband’s grandparents were the closest I ever had.  His grandfather, who they called “grandboppi”, I especially liked.  He was a kind man who always seemed to be smiling.  I think he was a person who had a lot of love in his heart and I always felt that when in his presence.  I miss him.

I am often reminded of him when I come across elderly men who are kind to me.  Earlier this week, I was walking into Panera for lunch and a mother with twins in a stroller approached the same door.  I held the door open for her.  She walked through and an elderly man was coming out of Panera, so I held the door open for him, as well. I smiled and kindly said, “go ahead”.   He looked at me with a warm smile and said, “my father would not be happy with me for this, but with that pretty smile of yours, I will let you hold the door for me”.  I laughed and jokingly replied, “don’t worry, I won’t tell him!”  

While some may think it sexist to hold a door open for a lady, I genuinely do not think that any man holds a door open out of the belief that a woman can’t do it for herself.  Men know we are fully capable of opening a door.  They do it to be kind and show respect, in the same way that I opened the door for the woman with the twins.  I wanted to be nice.  Kind acts do not need to be only from man to woman, but from person to person.  And kindness isn’t sexist.

I mean no disrespect to the modern, young man, but I often ask myself, where have all the kind men gone?  I must admit, I have at times been walking into or out of a building and the man in front me did not hold the door open for me (sometimes the door actually shut in my face!) and I thought to myself, “huh?  you’re a jerk..who raised you?!?”.  Combine this with our over-sexualized media and culture and I am fairly convinced that many modern men have lost respect for women.

I feel as if in today’s times, women have lost out on many platforms.  The men who opened doors are almost extinct, and have been replaced by men who just want to “hook-up” and be surrounded by women who look like Victoria’s Secret models, while caring less about whether or not they are nice women with a brain and substance.  I’m starting to wonder if men were more feministic in the past.

The funny thing about feminism is that some people erroneously think it simply means  you treat everyone the same.   I would argue that what feminism is all about, or any equality issue for that matter, is treating someone as if they have the right to freely be themselves and make their own decisions, and that they matter equally, while respecting them as a human being.

It is not just men to blame, though, as I am guessing part of the reason men have stopped holding doors open for women (or any other kind act like flowers, etc..) is because they were sick of women complaining about it.  So I must pass some blame to those women who throw a fit when a man is trying to be nice.

And while some may disagree, when a man opens a door for me, I don’t think he does it to belittle me or because he thinks he is better than me.  Quite the opposite.  I think he does it out of respect and kindness, two things that are very feministic.  As a woman, I get much more offended by the over-sexualization of women in the media, and the emphasis on beauty over substance,  than I do by any man that holds a door open for me.


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