Less than four decades after Roe vs. Wade, the thrust of the entire feminist movement is facing death by the most unlikely hands—liberated women. I think a short history lesson is in order here, because I’m afraid that some of us may not remember how things went down.
Once upon a time, there were men and women, and the line between the two couldn’t be more distinct. When a man liked a woman he pursued, wooed, and courted her. Once she was his, the man’s romantic overtures could just as easily disappear as not, while the woman’s work as his de facto maidservant was just beginning. Her only comfort might be the fact that her husband was obligated to protect and sustain her and her children both physically and financially for life…at least in theory. For generations these traditions were supported by Western society as a whole until, after a protracted struggle that began in the late 19th century and arguably reached its climax in 1973, women decided that enough was enough.
Sadly, less than four decades later, the very progeny of the women who stood up to men in defense of their rights are threatening to throw away the boon of that hard-fought war. I’m talking about the fact that though most educated women will tell you that they’re strong, independent, and loving it, many continue to have the strangest affection for one of the most insidious tools of oppression ever created by man (and I do mean man)—chivalry. You may call it being “old-fashioned”, or “traditional”, but it boils down to good old sexism, simple and plain.
At its core, chivalry is about the protection of property, and ladies that property is you. Doors should be opened because you’re too weak to do it yourself. Jackets should be draped over girly shoulders because you can’t brave the elements as well as we hardy menfolk can. And men should always pay for dates because we need to proove that we have what it takes to support you once sign your life away to become our mother-whore. (After all, when you pick up a stray at the pound, they make sure that you can feed and shelter the flea-bitten cur, don’t they?) When viewed in the light of truth, how can any sane woman support chivalry’s existence?
The problem is that so few people have the stomach for truth. (See my earlier note, “The Policy of Truth,” for more on that topic.) It’s much easier to think of chivalry as a set of quaint customs that demonstrate devotion and honor than as enablers of sexual discrimination and objectification. After all, it feels damn good to have someone treat you like royalty. If you can grab a free meal twice a week with absolutely minimal effort, then why not do it? If you can take a trip to some exotic destination on someone else’s dime, why not? I’ll tell you why not: there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Chivalry breeds resentment like you wouldn’t believe in the un-fair sex. The man that consistently drops his credit card for you will be looking for you to drop something of yours in return, and if it doesn’t happen, you’ll be labeled a gold digger. Actually, even if you do make like Beyoncé and let him get you bodied, he’ll probably still label you a gold digger. Now, maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t give a damn. It’s only fair that in exchange for my valuable time, I get something in return.” For any whores reading this, please persist in that thinking. It’s a completely appropriate mindframe for you. Unfortunately for the rest of you ladies, that philosophy only serves to reinforce the mistrust that many men hold for women but tend to keep to themselves…or use to inspire platinum-selling albums.
It’s time for strong and enlightened 21st century women to take their rightful place as the torchbearers for sexual equality. Chivalry was a necessity in the past because it served to bring a modicum of humanity to female-male relationships. Now that most Western women are in control of their own lives, it’s time to move forward. With that said, please don’t misunderstand me: men (particularly white ones) still have a tight grip on the reigns of power. If we don’t abandon the last vestiges of the old broken, oppressive sexual system though, this will never change.