The other day I read an article about “benevolent sexism”, which did a wonderful job of discussing the problems of chivalrous behavior by explaining rather than accusing – unlike this article celebrating its death, or this one blaming women for it.
Both men and women face incredible pressure to do things a certain way. Men pay for things, open doors, and have this expectation to protect their women. We accept this because that’s how we define “men”.
It’s easy for women to say we don’t care whether a guy always picks up the check, but I don’t think that women could ever understand why it bothers men so much; however, we can certainly be sympathetic.
These three common instances only help perpetuate everyday sexism, which hurts not only women but also men:
1. Men “have” to pay.
With more women in the workforce with equal qualifications and education, it’s becoming more likely that a woman could make more than her male partner. But this prevailing idea that the man must pay for everything hurts both parties – he can’t afford it, and she feels guilty because he won’t have her pay.
2. Men waiting on women.
The reasons men waiting on women can be borderline offensive – even though many women appreciate it – is better outlined in the first article mentioned than I could ever do.
For men, however, this “chivalrous” behavior is and was created by extrinsic pressures from other men to treat their “ladies” as delicate. Men who do these things are considered “better” than others. Those who don’t get nitpicked by their families, friends, her friends, and potentially the gal herself. However, the creation of chivalry is also a way to differentiate between classes – is a guy less worthy because he wasn’t taught chivalry? No.
3. The “stupid” husband/boyfriend
This is the most problematic because there is nothing empowering about tearing someone down – particularly when it’s targeting an entire gender. How many times have commercials for household items portrayed a confused, sloppy husband? While I’m sure these couples exist – hence the stereotype – always showing men who don’t know how to pack their child’s lunch or change a diaper, normalizes and internalizes the idea that only – cisgendered heterosexual – women can raise a child.