Is chivalry all about intent?

He is a gentlemen. He is listening, watching, and aware. However, do not be fooled, he can have a bite too. As you watch him in a room, he can often be the quiet one, but when he talks others listen. Most likely it is because he does not fill the airwaves with mindless banter (as I might be more accused of doing). Regardless of his quiet demeanor, he has always put me first (well 99% of the time–no one is that perfect)! Yes, I am speaking of Chris. My man, my partner in crime. He is good to me, takes care of me, and does little things that make me feel safe. An example, walking back to our car in a sketchy part of town, he will open the door for me and make sure I am in the car safely. Does he do it all the time? No, do I want him to? Hell no. Do I love that he does it randomly? Yes (said with a smile).

I just finished reading a great book with each chapter having an excerpt from a different woman called: “Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong” edited by Jessica Bacal. It was an interesting read on a variety of topics. 25 women talk about lessons they learned on the job, at some of their toughest moments. One of the ideas that stood out for me was from author, Courtney E. Martin about chivalry:

“I wrote a post about chivalry, trying to unpack what it means to be feminist in romantic relationships. I liked when guys opened doors for me but wondered if that fed a stereotype that women were weak and needed to be taken care of by men. I thought about it and felt good about the distinction that I came up with—door opening as a loving gesture versus door opening with an ‘I don’t think you can open this heavy door by your little self!’ attitude. What I ended up writing was that it’s romantic if it happens out of care and interdependence but not romantic if the guy thinks you are an ‘invalid’—a word I was trying to use ironically.” Page 229

Martin mentions romantic relationships, but I think as a woman it can also translate to work. You can tell which male co-workers open the door because they are just opening the door for you, (and you would do the same for them) and how many are doing it because of a power play. They feel like they should, as Martin mentions they think you are too weak to do so, or they are better at the task. It is always a little strange as a woman, that men let me go first through a door. I mean–why does it matter who goes first?

Whether the men I work with everyday, or the one I have chosen to spend my life with decide to do it as a “loving gesture” or not, I hope they at least think about their intent. That is all that really matters, right? At the end of the day, power over another does not make us equals. Why not look at the relationship and decide what works? Maybe we all have different ways to show we care, and we also have different ways to show our power.

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Is chivalry all about intent?

  1. I totally agree with this! I love when my hubby opens the door for me because it isn’t every time. It’s special times, like when we are on a date. When he picks out gifts for me, he puts a lot of thought into what to get, instead of getting what the commercials tell him girls like. It means more that way! Nice post! 🙂


  2. Pingback: Is chivalry all about intent? | edwarddpierce

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