modern chivalry

A friend of mine told me she hates feminism because in her opinion, if a guy sees a pretty girl in tight jeans and high heels carrying more than she can handle comfortably, he should help her.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. And not just because I like thinking about pretty girls in tight jeans and high heels. But really, in this day and age, what constitutes chivalry?

I have a problem with the ancient idea of chivalry. Mostly because it was the men who decided what was chivalrous and what wasn’t, and it doesn’t seem like they consulted the ladies much in this. And yeah, I’m sure some women got a big kick out of men risking their lives to commit chivalrous acts, but I bet just as many would’ve been much happier if their knights gallantly brought them chocolate, or heroically took them out to dinner, or courageously helped them with the housework. Or, you know, just treated them as equally capable and worthy human beings.

And that was just for noblewomen. Peasant women got totally screwed.

The United States Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal”. Some people seem to think that this means we’re all equally talented and capable, but I this is blatantly not true. We are clearly not all equally intelligent, strong, or of equal character—however you choose to define it. I think John Adams put it better when he wrote in the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, “All men are by nature free and equal…not a physical but a moral equality.” In other words, as fellow human beings we are all equally deserving of consideration.

So what does that mean for modern chivalry? For me, it means I’m equally considerate of everyone. I don’t care about age or sex or race or any other classification system someone can come up with to discriminate against someone else. As far as characteristics are concerned, I treat everyone equally.

But I do take other things into consideration. If I’m on the subway and I’ve actually managed to get a seat and I see a beautiful young woman and a tired-looking middle-aged man forced to stand, I’m going to offer my seat to the man. No question.

Because I’d rather stand next to the hot girl. This actually has nothing to do with chivalry.

Getting back to the original point, if I see a hot girl in tight jeans and high-heeled shoes carrying more than she can handle because she just really loves to shop, I’m really not going to feel too inclined to offer to help her. That said, if she actually asked for my help, I’d definitely help her.

I think there is a difference between men and women regarding the expectation of an offer to help. A while back my mom was complaining about how she and her sister were moving some heavy things while a group of young men just watched. She seemed kind of annoyed that none of these capable youths offered to help a pair of “mature” ladies, but my first question was, “Did you ask them for help?” No, she hadn’t.

I honestly think that if someone wants help, they should simply ask for it. I do understand that it can be difficult to ask a complete stranger for help when you intend to offer nothing but a sincere “thank you” in return, but I don’t think it’s justified to expect random strangers to spontaneously drop everything and rush to your aid without any expectation of reward, and I really don’t think it’s justified to get upset with people who don’t help you if you don’t actually bother to ask them for help.

In summary, I think modern chivalry consists of being willing to offer help to anyone regardless of who they are or what characteristics they possess, but as an individual you are perfectly free to decide for yourself if and when you will offer to help someone. While it is great and commendable and wonderful for sure, there is no obligation whatsoever to offer aid to anyone, and nor should there be.

Unless she’s really REALLY hot. Then I’ll carry her damn shopping bags.

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About Critical Awesomeness
I'm a 32-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry and a green hat. Only one of these two things is really important.

2 Responses to modern chivalry

  1. Some of us do rush to the aid of the pretty girl in tight jeans and high heels but what if it’s an old man carrying too much? Sad that we’re driven by sex to help one and not the other.

    One other thing ‘I’m a 31-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry and a green hat. Only one of these two things is really important.’
    •Age is irrelevant but might indicate you are self conscious if getting older
    •American – does that indicate pride and misguided feeling of superiority?
    •PHD in Chemistry indicates you are in the top 2% of ability
    •Green hat might indicate lack of taste or ‘oneness with nature’
    Hang on – that’s four not two which indicates you might be no good at math >:)

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