This is not a repost exactly, as I am revisiting more than one previously published post in response to yet another comment left over at FF101 about How Feminism Killed Chivalry, So Enjoy Lifting Those Heavy Parcels Ladies, Because It Serves You Right. This is a favourite trope amongst the antifeminists, about how feminists will be sorry Real Soon Now because they’re saving themselves for real feminine women, who know how to be properly grateful when a man makes a big display of how nice he’s being right now when he could be being really nasty instead, but he isn’t being nasty right now, because he’s just Such A Nice Guy especially just for you.
HaT has blogged several times about the fact that courtesy and chivalry are not the same thing, and that feminism has no problem at all with courteous behaviour between women and men. See somebody struggling with something when you have time/strength/energy to spare? Offer to help – it’s basic courtesy, and I (and many/most other people, actually) do it whether the person struggling is male or female. The problem with chivalry is the implicit idea that it’s somehow specially praiseworthy for a man to not be horrible to women, rather than not being horrible to anybody (including women) being a basic social expectation that doesn’t need special thanks.
The sexism of low self-expectations, one might say. [...] The ones who want a cookie, a pat on the head, a bit of acknowledgement please for the amazing achievement of acting like a decent human being when around women.
Yes, the NiceGuys(TM) who want their gold stars.
Think about it.
- You don’t get a gold star for not daydreaming at the office.
- You don’t get a gold star for not cheating on the exam.
- You don’t get a gold star for removing the private details of a male lawyer from your website when you’ve refused to remove pictures and private details of female law students who’ve objected to your website.
- You don’t get a gold star for not embezzling from the company.
- You don’t get a gold star for not speeding or not drink-driving.
- You don’t get a gold star for not murdering.
That’s because there are certain standards that society expects decent human beings to adhere to as a matter of course, because they are ethically sound. Treating women like full human beings who deserve egalitarian interactions is a basic ethical standard, not some noble sacrifice that deserves recognition and praise. It’s basic decency, not a martyrdom.
April 2007: How To Be A Bitch – where the punishment for not being properly grateful for the gratuitous displays of Look How Nice I’m Being is laid bare:
Betty at Creek Running North: How to be a bitch
- Have opinions of your own.
- Bonus points for disagreeing with a man.
- Consider your comfort before your attractiveness to the hypothetical heterosexual male when getting dressed.
- Be sexy when you want to; not because it’s obligatory.
- Consider your words as of equivalent value to those of a man.
- Insist they be treated as such.
- Notice sexism. Say something about it.
- Require more from men than that they not rape you in order to consider them “nice guys.”
- Don’t give out cookies for minimum standards of decency: expect more.
- Expect an orgasm for yourself from sexual encounters as the default.
- Be willing to take matters into your own hands.
- Don’t feel guilty or sorry for failing to conform to someone else’s idea of how you should perform gender.
- Don’t apologize.
- When it’s appropriate for someone to shut the fuck up, do let them know.
I hope this has been a helpful guide for those pursuing bitchiness.
Jill at Feministe: And that’s the thing with chivalry: It always demands something in return. If you’re being nice to me because you like me and you’re the kind of person who is nice to people you like, then that’s great. If you’re being nice to me because you’re hoping to get something out of it, or if you think you’re entitled to sex or a relationship with me because you were nice and “chivalrous,” you can go fuck yourself. See how that works?
Me: She’s just hit the nail on the head with what bothers me about the Nice Guy (TM) rhetoric, those whines from some men about how it’s so unfair that women won’t flock to be with them when he’s a “decent” bloke who doesn’t do nasty things to women, and what more do they want? Well, colour us as unreasonably demanding, but women do tend to want a little bit more than a guy who simply refrains from being nasty like it’s some great sacrifice (which implies that he might just stop refraining from being nasty if he doesn’t feel appreciated enough, so watch it).
Not doing nasty things to women is the lowest bar to hurdle, it’s the basic standard for being someone women don’t actively seek to avoid, it’s not all that’s necessary for women to find a man trustworthy and likeable. A man who doesn’t commit crimes against women may simply be a man who is unwilling to risk being caught rather than being a man who would never dream of enjoying such a thing, and if a man does not have that basic empathy and respect for women it shows.
Fuck Chivalry and the resentful pouting about not getting their look-at-all-my-gold-stars any more. Bring on the Courtesy and the Kindness that is its own reward.
I’ll conclude by offering my favourite character assessment tip ever: if someone is rude to waitstaff/servers when you’re out and about, they should be avoided thereafter with extreme diligence. They obviously divide the world into those who deserve dignity as a person and those who don’t, and that’s fundamentally fucked. Yes, this does relate to chivalry, and I’ll let you join the dots yourself.