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Manners, chivalry and sexism

 
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I recently read an article in a newspaper that stated between 80-90% of British women polled would feel offended if a man:

1) opened a door for her
2) offered her his seat on a bus
3) offered her his coat during a downpour

I certainly do not get offended if a man opens a door for me (I'm a 40-something man BTW).
I'm probably not of an age where another man offers me a seat on the bus, but when the time comes, I'd be very grateful.
The last question probably doesn't apply, but I'd hardly be offended by the offer.

Is this finding down to insecurity, a feeling that a man is exerting dominance, or what? Anybody got any views on this? Is common civility something to be shunned in order to avoid offence?

 
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I don't see a lot of "common" courtesy these days. Even in the great white north where we Canadians are supposed to have a reputation for being polite, manners seem to be disappearing. Noy in my family though, I'm happy to say. I think part of the reason that people these days are so "me" focused is the trend for the last few generations to teach children that they are special (in the better than everyone else sense). Two maky kids grow up feeling that the world should cater to them.

Old joke - how do two Canadians argue over a parking space?

"You take it", "Oh no, I insist, you take it..."

 
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Old joke - how do two Canadians argue over a parking space?
"You take it", "Oh no, I insist, you take it..."

Hah! You may be right there, we are, as a global community getting more selfish. But I think people are being over-sensitive too, everything should be taken as a slight, an attack on their rights. Part of our "victim-culture" possibly. Sad, very sad.

 
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This has been going on for a few generations now with the "spare the rod and spoil the child" attitude. Ok, so the phrase is pretty old (coined in 1662) Parents can't even spank a child without getting arrested for child cruelty. I got ### likings when I was a kid and I grew up ok (at least I think I did)

I believe use of hard drugs (meth, coke, etc) are the downfall of any society. The more drug use we see the worse we are. Why do you think there is so much violence in America? Probably drug use has a lot to do with it. Dugs make people do things they wouldn't do otherwise.

 
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There is a difference between a man doing those things for another man than him doing them for a women. Chivalry is associated with a time in history when women were considered property. They could not vote, work or own their own home. Chivalry is also based on the view that women are fragile, weak, inferior beings where as men are strong, tough, superior beings. By being chivarlous a man suggests he admires/agrees with those times and opinions, which rightfully makes women feel offended.

Another factor is that girls and women are raise to assume that any man could be a sexual predator with possible intentions to rape/murder them and that they need to be careful and watch out for themselves. Thus many things which men claim is "just trying to be nice" is interpretted as "he's trying to get into my pants" rightly or wrongly. Again this makes women feel very uncomfortable.

Now I personally don't mind if they offer only once since I assume they are just trying to be nice but if they insist even after I have refused the offer I feel extremely uncomfortable. For me it also depends on how it is phrased saying "You can borrow my coat" or "Would you like my seat" is different from saying "Here take my coat/seat", the former clearly indicates you respect the woman's choice/independence where as the latter comes off as pushy/patronizing.

 
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I don't see a lot of "common" courtesy these days. Even in the great white north where we Canadians are supposed to have a reputation for being polite, manners seem to be disappearing. Noy in my family though, I'm happy to say.

This is an interesting phenomenon, people complain about "kids these days" but if you ask them about any kids they know personally all those kids are fine. Just like "schools are terrible" but their local school is always good. Same for health care, "wait times are terrible" but if you ask them how long they have waited its a reasonable amount of time.

I think it comes from us getting our idea of what the world is like from the media rather than talking to our neighbours. That and the trend to blame everything on some abstract "system".

 
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. Chivalry is associated with a time in history when women were considered property.

Not really. I never considered my wife "property" (well, on the otherhand maybe I did, and the reverse was true too). People act like that even today. People are not property like you could buy/sell a dog, horse, car, house, etc. But property they are. If you don't believe me, the next time your wife or girl kisses (and I don't mean a simple peck on the cheed) another person do you get jealous? My wife used to say "That's my man, keep you paws off him!"

 
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Anybody got any views on this? Is common civility something to be shunned in order to avoid offence?

I was raised to be polite and courteous to all, women and men regardless of age. If someone is offended by that, it's not my problem. If a woman gets offended by me holding a door for her (which I would do for anyone a few steps behind me), my thought is "#### you, bitch, I'm just being nice. Don't read too much into it". I wouldn't actually say that because it would be rude, but seriously, can't we all just be less sensitive and accept kindness for what it is?

There's a line, of course. I wouldn't offer my coat to someone except in truly extreme circumstances, and I'd only offer my seat to someone who clearly needs it more than me. But smiling, holding doors, offering a place in a grocery line to someone who has greatly fewer items, these are what I see as common courtesy. It's not about feeling superior, it's about not feeling and looking like a selfish douchebag.

Chivalry is associated with a time in history when women were considered property.

There's some truth to that, though as I understand it chivalry itself was more about honorable knightly behavior. This included respecting the honor of women but wasn't specifically targeted toward women. Perhaps you're confusing chivalry with male chauvinism?

 
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There is a difference between curtesy holding the door and chivalrous holding the door. Curtesy is a very minor inconvience and extended to all people (eg. holding the door for the person behind you). Chivalrous holding the door is a much larger inconvience and extended only to women by men (eg. guy running around to the other side of a car to open the door for his girlfriend). Of course no one would be offended by the former but many women would be offended by the latter (and reading the list of items suggests the latter was ment in the survey not the former). Just as offering your seat to an elderly woman with a walking stick is not the same as offering your seat to a healthy able-bodied young/middle-aged woman.

I also smiled at the fact that everyone is jumping on my statement of historical fact while ignoring my statement that chivalry is based on the view that women are frail, fragile, weak, and should be treated by men like a crystal vase.

Chivalry and Chauvanism are not far off. They both emphasizing treating women differently from men because women are inferior to men. True that chivalry is not as bad as domestic abuse or sexual assault but that does not mean women should be grateful for it.

@deceptikon clearly we are discussing the parts of chivalry which are directed at women rather than dueling procedures etc...
@AD monogamy is not the same as ownership.

I still contend women are justified in feeling offended when men express values, opinions, or behaviours toward/about them from a time when women were legally and socially subservient to men, regardless of whether they are directly harmed by the actions or not.

 
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But I think people are being over-sensitive too

A lot of people go out of their way to find things that offend them and it's not enough to be personally offended. There are people who get offended on behalf of other people.

I got ### lickings when I was a kid and I grew up ok

Same here. My Dad spent many years on the local School Board. Occasionally the talk would turn to corporal punishment and someone would make a comment akin to "we must outlaw it lest we destroy children's lives, twist their minds, warp their spines, etc". My Dad's response was to ask who got spankings when they were young. All hands went up. The follow-up question was always, "who here is a warped, twisted individual as a result". No hands. Argument over.

I have to say I never got a spanking I didn't deserve. The worst punishment was when my mother would say "just wait until your father gets home". The waiting was worse than the punishment.

use of hard drugs (meth, coke, etc) are the downfall of any society

It's not the drugs. The drugs are a symptom and other countries with more relaxed drug laws have less of a drug problem. I can look up the stats later, but Americans have an inordinately large number of people in jail for minor drug offenses. Prison has a worse effect on most of these people than the actual drugs.

 
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eg. guy running around to the other side of a car to open the door for his girlfriend

I was thinking of this as an example as well, but more along the lines of if she's offended by me showing that I care for her, it's not a healthy relationship.

Doing that for some random woman is different, and I'd prefer not to because it opens a can of worms such as what do you do when there's more than one woman riding? I wouldn't consider opening a car door to be an offensive action in general, but I would find it a little odd if done for someone who's not close to you or clearly in need of assistance.

while ignoring my statement that chivalry is based on the view that women are frail, fragile, weak, and should be treated by men like a crystal vase.

I thought I covered that by suggesting that you're confusing chivaly with male chauvanism. Do you have any references that show the code of chivalry to be "based on" a view of female weakness? Last I checked it dealt with weakness in general, which from the perspective of a trained warrior would include anyone who's not also a trained warrior.

I'm not saying you're wrong about society's views toward women throughout history, but I'm not convinced that the code of chivalry is targeted at or inspired by it.

 
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There are people who get offended on behalf of other people.

And some people get offended by other people being offended.... Although IMO we should not judge people as "over-sensitive" until we have walked a mile in their shoes.

PS I am a woman who has experienced and observed British men being 'chivalrous'.

 
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Although IMO we should not judge people as "over-sensitive" until we have walked a mile in their shoes.

It works both ways. Don't judge people for being "chivalrous" until you understand their reasons for it. ;)

 
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The more drug use we see the worse we are. Why do you think there is so much violence in America? Probably drug use has a lot to do with it. Dugs make people do things they wouldn't do otherwise.

So that's your logic?

more drugs = more violence
more guns  = less violence

Astounding!

By being chivarlous a man suggests he admires/agrees with those times and opinions

So If I get to the door first and hold it open for another man I am saying "You are inferior to me?" I don't think so.

I think it comes from us getting our idea of what the world is like from the media rather than talking to our neighbours

I agree there. The media likes to incite fear (remember H1N1?). Fear makes you "stay tuned for late breaking updates".

I also smiled at the fact that everyone is jumping on my statement of historical fact while ignoring my statement that chivalry is based on the view that women are frail, fragile, weak, and should be treated by men like a crystal vase.

According to several sources (the following from Wikipedia)...

Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is the traditional code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood. Chivalry arose from an idealized German custom. It was originally conceived of as an aristocratic warrior code — the term derives from the French term for horseman — involving honor, gallantry, and individual training and service to others. Over time its meaning has been refined to emphasize more ideals such as knightly virtues, honor, courtly love, courtesy, and less martial aspects of the tradition.

Chivalry and Chauvanism are not far off. They both emphasizing treating women differently from men because women are inferior to men.

chauvinism - noun

  1. aggressive or fanatical patriotism; jingoism
  2. enthusiastic devotion to a cause
  3. smug irrational belief in the superiority of one's own race, party, sex, etc. male chauvinism
    [from French chauvinisme, after Nicolas Chauvin, legendary French soldier under Napoleon, noted for his vociferous and unthinking patriotism]
 
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Wow! I included 'chivalry' in the title, as a tongue-in-cheek hook. I was looking more at common civility. I'd offer to open a door for anybody. Note the word 'offer' - not demand.

I agree that persistence can be annoying. My late step-mother would ask me five times whether I wanted another cup of tea. I felt like shouting "For #### sakes, I already said no a million times, are you ####ing insane?" But then, as always, I'd realise that she was doing her best to be nice. Is this the same as a man saying at the door, "No please, I insist"? I suppose it depends, you could argue that the language was domineering, superior, etc, but really, might it not be down to something else? Like an innate wish to do good. Don't we all get a wonderful feeling from doing something nice for somebody else - especially a stranger, regardless of gender?

Having lived in a perceived male-dominated culture (Welsh mining village) for my formative years, I can see how I would be seen as a misogynistic oik with my weird ways and manners. But really? I was taught not only to hold a door open to women, but also to my elders and betters, children and especially to people that I didn't know. That pretty much rules out everybody other than my close friends - and I enjoy slamming the door in their faces anyway :). BTW - I say perceived, as my mother (as most other Welsh mams), ruled our lives with a fortitude without compare. My father and I were allowed out to 'play', but my God, take advantage and you'd regret it. We all had out roles to play, we all understood those roles. Today, the roles have changed, and I hope for the better. However, we are totally lost as to what these new roles entail. How do be behave neutrally in every single situation, lest we be castigated for being a ####ing chauvansitic pig on one hand, or an ignorant, selfish prig on the other.

Do I hold a door open for a woman because I want to have sex with her? Because she is after all just a frail, second-class citizen? Because I think she's my better? Or could it simply be that this is my conditioning and I was brought up to show everybody a common courtesy?

 
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So that's your logic?

more drugs = more violence
more guns = less violenc

I didn't say that at all. What I meant was this:

more drugs = more guns = more violence

Here are a few interesting stats: This is the result of President Lyndon Johnson's so-called "war on drugs" in the 1960s. Big big failure.

(US Drug Prisoners) "The United States leads the world in the number of people incarcerated in federal and state correctional facilities. There are currently more than 2 million people in American prisons or jails. Approximately one-quarter of those people held in U.S. prisons or jails have been convicted of a drug offense. The United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses."

(Offense Distribution by Race/Ethnicity and Gender) "At yearend 2010, male and female state prison inmates differed in the types of offenses for which they were sentenced. At yearend 2010, 25% of female inmates in state prisons were incarcerated for drug crimes, compared to 17% of male inmates. Property crimes comprised 29% of the overall sentenced female population in state prison and 18% of the overall male population. An estimated 37% (34,100) of females in state prison were held for violent crimes, compared to 54% (689,000) of males. The percentage of females serving time for murder (10% of all sentenced females) was similar to that of males (12%). Robbery was the most common violent crime for males (14%), followed by murder (12%), and assault (11%).
"A larger percentage of whites (24%) were sentenced for property crimes than Hispanics (14%) or blacks (15%). The percentage of Hispanics (57%) and blacks (55%) in state prison held on violent offenses exceeded that for whites (49%). A higher percentage of whites (16%) were imprisoned for both rape and other sexual assaults than blacks (8%) and Hispanics (12%)."

 
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^^ As interesting as it is, I think that's going off-piste.

 
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it's been off-topic for a couple of days now, but that's the way it goes in Geek's Lounge :)

 
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I have a tentalizing scenario for the whole "holding the door" conundrum: double doors. Walk into a restaurant, mall, or building with double doors, whoever gets to walk through the first door held open for them is going to reach the second door before the other. And there comes the "test", (1) will the person return the favor (and establish equality of manners), (2) will the person slow down expecting the gallantry to be repeated, (3) will the second person rush in to hold the second door too, or (4) will the person just open the door and walk through (and probably holding it open for the second person).

To me, the first case is nice and pleasant for all parties involved, even among strangers, it just feels good to care for others and/or be cared for. The second case, which would usually involve a woman as the person waiting for the gesture of gallantry, is a bit backwards and weird, and I don't think anyone (of my generation) likes that, whether on the receiving or giving end. I think few men are still attracted (if ever) to the whole "I'm a princess and you're my knight" thing. And if women are offended to be put in that role, then great! The third case is also bad for the same reason, except that, in that case, the man is trying to put the woman into that princess/knight paradigm. In the last case, clearly the person doesn't care much about the gesture of courtesy, which is also OK, as long as minimal courtesy is still there.

That's the way I see things, but I certainly would like to see more of the first case, i.e., people being happy to take a little pause or sidestep in their day to care for others with simple gestures like that. If you give, you don't feel bad or uncomfortable about receiving.

By being chivarlous a man suggests he admires/agrees with those times and opinions

I associate the word chivalry to that princess / knight paradigm, or the Guinevere / Lancelot type stories and fairy tales. It used to be the ideal of romance. But that's changing because I think people see it as an unequal relationship, and in both directions. Modern women aren't comfortable in that passive "marry rich" role, and men aren't comfortable with that either, both want a real partnership these days, and that's a good thing. And gallantry gestures are just one of the subtle (or not so subtle) ways of sending a message like "hey, I want to be your knight", and you can't expect most women to like that very much, unless they make it clear that they do.

Do I hold a door open for a woman because I want to have sex with her?

Ishh... sometimes I get the feeling that women think men are like lap dogs, they just want to hump everything they see. Not that it's completely unjustified to think so, but give us a break!

chivalry is based on the view that women are frail, fragile, weak, and should be treated by men like a crystal vase.

Well, one problem with that is that women are weaker, i.e., smaller in stature and with weaker muscles in general. At my university many of the doors are quite heavy, and I often find myself opening the door for women not because of "gallantry", but just because they are often struggling to get them open and since I'm 6'2'', I can just extend my arm and open the door with no effort at all. But there is a big difference between that and ascribing a prejudice of weakness or fragility.

 
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@AD - thanks for providing the stats. Now back to the topic...

I find that 9 times out of 10 when I open the first door of a two-door entrance, the person I let through first reciprocates. As for motive, I find life complicated enough without worrying about motive. I'm not as concerned about why people behave the way they do as I am with the actual behaviour.

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