Tag Archives: Chivalry

One For Me, None For You: Relationships and Compromise

Compromise

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If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that relationships are all about compromise, I’d be writing this on the third floor of my winter villa in Rio.  By the way, I couldn’t use the first floor since it would be in use as a working recreation of a Starfleet holodeck, and the second floor would be flooded for reenactments of ancient Roman navy battles.  My point is, muphuckas are always preaching about the virtues of meeting in the middle.

It’s not that I’m arguing with the precept.  My problem is that, more often than not, men are the only ones actually expected to head down shitty old Compromise Road.  On the other hand, our girlfriends and wives just stand there, barely stepping foot on the path themselves.  It’s like we’re characters in a Looney Tunes feature and our ladies are the wascally wabbits.  “She switched the signs, dummy!  That’s not Compromise Road, that’s Her Way Highway!  It leads to a…cliff.”  Womp, womp, wooooooomp.

Here’s a real example to clarify my meaning, based on a conversation with a past girlfriend:

Me: “By the way, I’ve got plans on Saturday night.”
Her: “What plans?”
Me: “Well, I’m supposed to meet up with some friends for drinks.”
Her: “Uh…but I wanted to go dancing on Saturday.”
Me: “OK, but you didn’t tell me that, and I already made plans.”
Her: “Yeah, but I should come first.”
Me: “You do come first, but we’ve spent every day together except one since Sunday, and it’s Thursday.  I have other friends, too.”
Her: “But I’ve been studying all week!  That’s not quality time!”
Me: “Any time that I spend with you is quality for me, moon of my life.”
Her: “OK, OK.  Let’s just compromise.  Why don’t you go out with me this Saturday, then hang out with your friends some time next year.  That’s cool, right?”
Me: “Dear, sweet, lovely woman…that’s not a compromise.  That’s you getting your way completely.  Isn’t there some other way that we can both be relatively happy?”
Her: “FUCK YOU!  Your mother sucks cocks in hell!

Or something like that.  The bottom line is that we both wanted something, but she totally got what she wanted and I got jack.  And it sucked.

Even so, it’s not like I think that women are inherently manipulative, self-centered creatures who will stop at nothing to see men trapped beneath the weight of their thigh-high boots.  On the contrary, I believe that this inclination to promote their own needs at the expense of their partner’s evolved as a defense mechanism, a means of combating their relegation to second-class citizenship in a male-dominated society, and it’s realized through artful appeals to chivalric principles.

As I’ve said elsewhere, chivalry is an insidious institution, and I propose that this is yet one more way that it damages our relations with one another.  Having been instructed that a gentleman caters to the every want of his lady, women have come to use this teaching as a blunt, but immensely effective weapon to help even the odds in the battle of the sexes.  Turn weakness to strength: relentlessly question a loving man’s commitment to your emotional well-being and you’ll win the day more often than not.  The Tzu brothers, Lao and Sun, would be proud.  (Note: if you believe that these ancient Chinese men were actually related to each other then you are ignorant, racist, or both.)

So, most men succumb to the browbeating, acquiring the conflicted, cartoonish demeanor that TV husbands have displayed on every sitcom from “The Honeymooners” to “Modern Family.”  Sure, we talk a good game, stomp around the house, and on occasion even dare to challenge our better halves face to face.  As a result, 15% of the time we may get our way.  Still, 75% of the time poker night gets canceled, there’s no boys’ trip to Prague, and you can forget about buying the full-scale replica Iron Man suit with a functional wee-wee hole.  All the while, us menfolk sit stewing, wondering when in the name of Al Bundy we surrendered our gonads.

Yep.  Guilt and an overactive desire to please eventually give way to resentment, and that brings us to the 10% of the time for which we have yet to account.  Care to hazard a guess as to what happens then?  That’s right: rebellion.  Appearing to acquiesce, sheepishly nodding our heads and avoiding eye contact, we slink into the shadows…biding our time.  Our moment may come later that day, it may come next year, but rest assured it will come, and when it does, not an iota of guilt will accompany our transgressions.  No, we’ll rest easy on a resplendent throne, our smug visage pressed firmly against the flowery bosoms of an exotic dancer named Passion as the DJ replays “Bandz A Make Her Dance” for the third time.  After all, revenge is a dish best served from a strip club buffet, and years of compromise have made us very, very hungry.

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Stand Up!

“I’ve got your good old days RIGHT HERE.”

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There are some topics for which controversy is entirely expected and perhaps even suitable due to their very nature. Abortion is one, and this makes sense when one reflects on the fact that a human life is arguably at stake. Universal health care is another in that it forces us to question the limits of government authority and responsibility. One topic that is absolutely undeserving of any controversy whatsoever in the 21st century is the value of chivalry, however. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either benighted, sexist, or both.

This brings me to a discussion I had on Facebook earlier this week.

Lawrence Adjah, a Facebook friend, was riding a Bay Area commuter train and noticed that there were women standing while male passengers sat. This grated against his sensibilities and as a man of action, he set about campaigning to get every last standing woman on that train a seat…which he did. Excited about the fruit of his efforts, he posted a picture of the results on everyone’s favorite social network.

All aboard! Next stop, gender subjugation!

The electronic ticker-tape parade began in earnest. Accolades from his female friends poured in, and one woman even invited him to come to Boston to “do work.” Well, I couldn’t take it. So I didn’t.

I posted a forceful reply, and although I used highly informal language since I was talking to a group of peers, my point was substantive. The next thing I knew, I was engulfed in a 24-hour, emotionally charged conversation with Lawrence, one other man (who sided with me), and several women (who definitely did not). Although things got pretty heated, I’m used to such scraps, so I walked away no worse for wear…until I saw that my comments had been utterly misconstrued and decontextualized on the Huffington Post.

It turns out that one of the many chivalry-loving women who had seen Lawrence’s post was Ms. Nancy Redd. As a writer and host for HuffPost, I suppose that this little skirmish in the Battle of the Sexes was too good for her to pass up. I mean, you’ve got Sir Lawrence, the White Knight in Shining Armor, multiple damsels in commuter distress, and even a readymade villain, yours truly. This is the stuff of which romantic reactionary dreams are made!

Nancy (and I call her by her first name because, believe it or not, I know this woman personally) proceeded to take isolated statements that I made and present them as fully independent thoughts, without including my milder supporting comments or the often insulting words of those who I’ll dub The Defenders of Feminine Virtue. For example, one woman implied that my comrade-in-arms and I were “diva dudes” who thought that we were too good for women, and another suggested that our beliefs were the result of (drumroll, please) our mothers’ failures. None of these women’s comments made it into Nancy’s piece…yet all of my Black English did. But who can blame her? Nothing says inarticulate and therefore worthless like Black English, right?

What bothered me most about Nancy’s post however, was not her tactless attempt to paint me as a buffoon. Instead, my real anger stemmed from the fact that she reduced my sentiments to “negativity and hate,” when at their core they were actually about equity. Notice that I wrote equity, as in fairness. Women and men are not the same (a truth that is often wonderful), but our differences do not necessitate a return to the bad old days of sexist claptrap like men walking on the outside of the sidewalk, arbitrarily giving up their seats, or I don’t know…keeping women shut in at home.

No. Caption. Needed.

Be not deceived. The idea that chivalry’s origins lie in the chauvinistic past are incontrovertible. I’ve discussed this idea before, so I won’t beat a dead horse, but suffice it to say that men treating women as if they are childish dependents, mental dwarves, or hapless semi-invalids is a very bad thing…for us all. The gender-based niceties that many enjoy so much are the beguiling flowers of a sinister tree with pernicious roots. Until these vestiges of societally supported sexism are purged, women will remain just shy of being men’s recognized equals. As Gloria Steinem said, “A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space.”

Ladies, I invite you to hop off of that pedestal prison and stand up for what’s right. You’ll find plenty of good men ready to stand proudly right alongside you.

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Death to Chivalry: Notes from a Bearded Feminist

Death Knight

Maybe chivalry is actually UNdead?

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.

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