Is Chivalry Sexist?

Yep.  At least it seems like it.  I had been wondering about this for a while and looked into the origins of Chivalry in the Middle Ages.  I’m sure you’re familiar enough with the concept so I won’t bore you.  The idea of chivalry and gallantry eventually led to the principle of “women and children first” particularly during an evacuation.  This didn’t just apply to women (and children) but to the elderly, infirm, and injured as well.  Basically anyone that may not stand the best chance at survival.

The main problem I have with these social constructions is that Chivalry treats women as if they’re made of glass.  Something to be protected, treasured, adored, and kept on a pedestal.  And of course, that’s not right.

Even if Chivalry and “women and children first” were originally based on reasonable enough motives to protect others and save more lives, they’ve devolved into a sort of benevolent sexism.  Inequality is inequality.  No matter the rationale.

Chivalrous and gallant actions are not inherently wrong though.  It’s a question of motivation and intent.  For example, I would absolutely hold the door for someone.  Not because she’s a woman, but because she’s right behind me and carrying a heavy box.  I’m not being sexist, I’m just doing the humane considerate thing.  This would hold true for anyone, female/male, young/old, white/black, whatever.  And why wouldn’t I?

I can’t see how being considerate would be wrong.  But of course, we have to remember the motivation.  I disagree with the idea of Chivalry and coddling women simply because they’re women.  That consideration needs to expand to include everyone.  Not out of misplaced gallantry or pride.  But out of mutual respect.

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Is Chivalry Sexist?