Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chivalry, Women's Lib, and Steve Harvey

Mary Jo Fay's blog post, Are Women Killing Off Chivalry? apparently hit a nerve with one of her readers, who sent her an anonymous scathing email retort. The woman compared Mary Jo's chiding women that don't appreciate chivalrous men to blaming women for everything from the poor economy to 9/11. She reminded Mary Jo that all the people who flew the planes into buildings were male.

Now here's a woman who has a stick up her butt! Somehow she translated Mary Jo's blog post message of "women should appreciate chivalrous men," to "women are the root of all evil." Geez, some people can't wait to become defensive about how poorly their gender is treated!

I've heard the arguments over gender inequality from both sides. I know both men and women who have been greatly mistreated from both discrimination and reverse discrimination. But I don't think that has a whole lot to do with chivalry.

Personally, I love chivalry. When a man open's doors, offers to pay, pulls out my chair, holds my coat, I think to myself, "This is a man who knows how to treat a woman." However, I know there are women who prefer to be treated "equally" and find these types of manners old-fashioned and demeaning. There are some women who take the woman's movement to an extreme and get offended if they are treated "like a lady."

Though I'm not one of "those" women, I am quite independent and promote equality for women. Does that make me hypocritical? I don't think so... I feel women can be strong, independent, and treated "equally" where appropriate (such as at work), and still be feminine and honored for their femininity. I think men, too, should be respected for the wonderful masculine traits they bring to a relationship. I'm sorry to say, male-bashing seems somewhat commonplace among the female population, and I've come to realize how hurtful this can be.

As much as I enjoy a chivalrous man, I disagreed with much of Steve Harvey's book, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man." In this book, Harvey implies the main thing men want from women is "the cookie" (sex) and that all this chivalrous behavior on dates is aimed only at that. I thought much of what he touted in his book was very sexist and out-dated. For example, he very clearly felt that men needed to be the big bread-winners in the family. One of his chapters is titled, "Strong, Independent -- and Lonely -- Women." He tells a story of a couple where the woman made more money than the man. She proceeds to remind him of what a loser he is by making a public scene at the grocery story. This is the kind of thing that happens, Harvey warns, when men are not the primary providers.

The obvious reason why the couple in the story was having problems, wasn't about money. It was about lack of respect. Both people in the relationship deserve respect and to treat their partner with respect. That means you listen to them. You support them. You find ways to make them happy...whether that means paying for their meal or making them an apple pie. Pay attention to what makes them tick and respect that. Stop worrying about "gender" generalities and just love the person you're with for who they are.

Side note: When I originally read Steve Harvey's book, I was making a very big salary, so that may have been part of the reason I was quite offended with his implication that couples in which the woman made more money were doomed for failure.

I would just like all those men that were intimidated by me to know that I lost my cushy job and most of my money, so I am available for all the provider-wannabe-men out there...


rebecca @ altared spaces said...

Do I love it when my husband holds my coat while I gather up a few items as we leave a party? Yes.

Do I hold the door open for him as we walk into the grocery store? Yes, and he for me. It depends on who gets to the door first.

Kindness is kindness and we all feel it and want it extended in our direction. Male or female.

Popo said...

I haven't read Steve's book but based upon his stand up act, he seems like a pretty "old-school" kind of guy. It seems like he is trying to over-simplify human nature in order to get his humor to a relatable level. And another thing, just look at the suits he wears! Double breasted pin stripes from the 20s and 30s!!