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.
March 2007: Blog Against Sexism Day: good guys and gold stars
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?
November 2007: Friday Feminism on the run: Nice Guys (TM) redux and what makes an ideal husband and father
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.
Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, history
I think that your last point about tipping or how someone treats their “servants” is the best character judge of a person, and it’s the first thing I’m observing when I’m around men who I suspect are working up the courage to ask me out. For example, the following are the ones I notice the most:
1) Does he look at security guards who might need to inspect him/us not only in the eyes and/or a “thank you” after they’ve wanted him/us? After all, they are just doing their job and if they do it without acting like a brownshirt, they deserve a little humanity for having to endure such an intrusive task. Many of these people are just as ashamed to have to check someone just as the subject might be ashamed to be checked.
2) Does he smile and greet the receptionist when he enters a building, does he ignore her, or does he only reply after she has greeted him?
3) “You can tell the true character of a man by the size of his tip.” In the service industry, talk is cheap. As a former waitress, I’m didn’t serve food to be praised endlessly for being “absolutely perfect” (their words) and then stiffed for less than 5% of the check. When they start talking like this, 9 times out of 10, you are hearing the forked tongue of a sociopath playing his mind game. Well that Jedi mind trick doesn’t work with me. This one fits into the “beware of nice guys” category. If people want to remember my name and treat me like a human being when I’m doing with expectation of fair compensation, then that’s icing on the cake and it shows me that they are indeed individuals of high character. I totally understand those people who are having a business meeting or with long lost friends who want me to stay under the radar as much as possible. And as long as I’ve done that, the host usually rewarded me very generously and was obviously genuinely motivated to please his company. So I’ll notice the process of a man leaving a tip for the server with maximum character points as follows: If the host/date is willing to give the server the benefit of the doubt that he/she knows what they are doing and they are fair about the ordering process, i.e. not being clueless about what kinds of side dishes come with what if it says clearly on the menu. Attention to detail in all things, and to not expect people to spoon-feed you (meaning spoiled in probably most things) the ordering process, i.e. he helps the server help him by communicating clearly and attentively. If he does this knowing that this individual is only doing his or her job and is used to difficult people more often than not, then he already has a gold star since he went out of his way to recognize and prevent problems or mistakes. When all is done and the check is presented, if he invited me I might offer to pay for part of it, but if I do he shouldn’t be too eager to accept my money. I would expect him to at least make a fair scan to make sure that there were no mistakes in the check. If he doesn’t do that, then that’s a red flag of being irresponsible in other things or showing off. I may say something at that point to ask him if he is sure. The time where I was impressed where the guy readily admitted that he is absent minded about the check and usually doesn’t look at it as well as he should unless the amount he estimated was way off of what the final bill came to be, but said that he was glad that I was there to watch out for him. The final sign of high character and class, especially if we got really good service is if I’m looking at the bill and he says “how much”, and I’ll say the amount. For example, let’s say that the check came out to $51. So he pulls out $60 (3 20’s) and gives it to the server and says something like “Thank you – you don’t ned to bring that (the bill holder) back again”. Smiling, the server knows that’s a classy way of saying “keep the change”. We have a winner ladies! So if his actions around his staff, servants, or others he depends on is both fair and with dignity, I am already at ease that I am in good hands knowing that he “takes care of the people who take care of him”.
In general, someone can easily radiate positive energy and show their true colors just by looking at people like human beings instead of robots.
4) The last point of how to judge character, at least for me, is how someone handles mistakes. If I mess up and am in a bad mood where I might be acting like a brat, I don’t (at least deep down) want a man to roll over and expose his belly, apologize, or walk away with his tail between his legs, so to speak. I want him to be honest at all times and say something like, “Is it really necessary for you to be such a bitch? Why is it so hard for you to admit that you messed up? The only reason I’m saying this is because you are trying to blame me for something I didn’t do. If I don’t say something, what will you do if you screw up something because you weren’t paying attention and get yourself or both of us in trouble?” A sure sign of a man who is of good character will not sell out his beliefs while still respecting mine. The last thing I want is a man to suddenly drop all of his interests to pursue mine, unless it’s clear to me that some of my interests might be interesting to him too.
As a caveat to this, when someone messes up, I would think that someone of good character gives them a chance to admit it while holding their temper. If they tell the truth, he should reward them by giving them a chance to set things right. If he starts to be vindictive or cruel, i.e. kicking someone when they are down, that’s a big red flag.
Wow – this is getting long 🙂 The moral to my comment here is that anything that a man does to the people that take care of him, for better or worse, will sooner or later be how he takes care of me (or you). So being a bitch is good since at least a bitch doesn’t have skeletons in her closet. A man with good character should be attracted to a “bitch”, as long as her bitchiness is genuine and never mean or vindictive.