Tuesday 8 April 2014

Giving Chivalry the Shank

Last week I read this great blog post about how chivalry needs to die already.  (Check out other posts from Jenn at Something Clever 2.0, because she's awesome).

Can I hear an "Amen"?  Can you give me "Hallelujah"?

Hell yeah!

So much YES to this post.  Chivalry ranks in my top ten Things That Piss Me Off.  Not so much because it happens (bad enough but good intentions yadda, yadda, yadda), but because those who perpetrate it force it on you against your will!  Seriously!  Have you ever tried to reject an act of chivalry?  It is near impossible.

When my kids were in the stroller stage men were constantly going out of their way to open doors for me which, sure it's polite to offer to open the door for someone.  But when I told them, "Thank you, but you don't need to do that.  I've got this."  They would open the door for me anyway!  And yes, sometimes it was more than awkward and I would have gone through the door much faster without help than with it, but more than that it made my blood boil.

I felt like I was being told that not only was I not capable of handling the door but that I wasn't even capable of knowing whether or not I could handle the door. You don't know me!  Maybe I've been training for this.  Maybe I worked hard during my pregnancy to be the Formula One Race Car Driver of strollers! 

Quit stealing my Days of Fucking Thunder, asshole!

And it was like this every single time some dude was holding open a door for me.  I would literally  say "No, thank you" and they would do it anyway, sometimes with a big, shit-eating, self-congratulatory grin.  How in the fuck is it polite to do something that someone explicitly asked you not to do?  How in the fuck is that not outright disrespectful?  Grrrrrr!

So Jenn, I want you to know that your post inspired what I did today.

Today, I had to bring Frick to the hospital to see his opthalmologist.  We were waiting for the elevator and when the doors opened I indicated to the man who was waiting with us to go first because he was waiting there longer than we were.  And then this happened:

Man: "Oh no, you can go first."

My leg muscle twitched to do the automatic thing and comply even though I know it will piss me off and then I stop myself.  Why do I have to do what this man tells me?

Me:  "No, you can go ahead.  You were waiting longer."

Man:  "I must insist."

Me:  "Oh no, I insist.  After you."

Man (becoming visibly irritated):  "No really.  You can go first."

At this point Frick is already on the elevator and the doors are starting to close.

Me:  "Frick could you press the 'open door' button so this gentleman can get on the elevator, please?"

Man (shaking his head in disgust and muttering): "...have better things to do than stand here arguing with you all day."

And then he finally gets on the elevator.

I thought that after this I was going to feel guilty, like I had unreasonably thwarted someone's genuine good intentions.

I was wrong.

I felt awesome!!!

I hadn't felt this level of exaltation since the first time I successfully tied my shoelaces ALL BY MYSELF!  Instead of spending the next ten minutes resentfully wishing I had done something subversive, I actually did the subversive thing and now I felt like fist-pumping the air or doing a cartwheel.  

I knew I did the right thing because this guy was the one being unreasonable.  If he was truly being polite it shouldn't have mattered who entered first.  But it did matter to that guy.  His angst at me showed that it mattered a lot.  I wonder if he felt infantilized.  I wonder if he felt belittled.  I wonder if he felt every bit as humiliated as I was going to feel if I had accepted his act of "chivalry".

Doesn't feel so polite when it's being forced on you, does it?

So yes, I am right on board with chivalry needing to die already (Amen!  Hallelujah!  Praise Gloria Steinem!).  But I propose that we hurry things along by giving chivalry the shank.  From now on, when some "gentleman" tries to force his unwanted chivalry on me I'm going to stand my ground.

Anyone with me?