By Kate Grey
Most people usually think I need my head examined when I explain that I support the feminist movement. However I also appreciate when a guy opens the door or pulls out a chair for me.
For some reason people have this absurd notion that feminism is the reason that chivalry is non-existent. It is my opinion that the feminist movement is being used as an excuse for the boorish behaviour of some men.
Chivalry simply means courtesy towards women. I was once told that women cannot have it both ways. It’s either special treatment (chivalrous behaviour) or equality in every way. My response to that was why should I have to choose between my right to equal opportunity and compensation and being treating with common courtesy?
Firstly, I think there is a lot of misconception where feminism is concerned and exactly what it is. Many women have absolutely no idea what it is and what the founders hoped to achieve with this movement. In a nutshell, the Women’s Liberation Movement hopes to achieve universal education, equal legislation, promoting political participation, equal rights, eradication of domestic and sexual violence and reproductive rights fall under the feminist movement which started in the 19th and 20th Century. A few goals can be ticked off the list but there is still a great deal more to be done.
There is an article I came across over the weekend comparing the behaviours of men on two separate sinking vessels – the RMS Titanic of April 14th, 1910 and the Costa Concondia of January 13, 2012. In the case of the Titanic, the death toll reflected that more men perished due to the sacrifice they made so that the women and children could survive, with the death tally being 1,517 with 80% being men and the other 20% being women.
However, in the case of the Costa Concondia it was every man/woman for himself/herself. One survivor had recalled that men were pushing woman out of the way and even out of the life boats to save themselves. Pregnant women were no exception.
Where was the instinct of men to protect? Well my guess is that it was replaced with the instinct to save themselves (fight or flight).
Men are genuinely either confused or afraid in some instances, not wanting to be labelled sexist.
And yes, I am aware that radical feminism exists, but this should not stop you from doing something should you see a woman either struggling to get into a car or bus. Offer to give up your seat when you notice her standing without a place to sit. Open the door and let a woman out before you enter the building or even leave the door open so the person after you can easily pass. There have been a few instances where I almost got hit in the face with a door because the person in front of me did not bother to check to if someone was close on his or her heel.
You can see the lack of consciousness among men in mini buses. On one occasion recently a man just sat down in a bus and allowed a woman to struggle with a number of shopping bags in one hand and a baby in the other. Two frisky school children hung on to her skirt as if were their last lifeline.
In the meantime, Mr ‘No Manners’ was beating rhythmically on the side of the bus and singing in a jarring falsetto. The man sat comfortably until he reached the junction of Orange Walk and Croal Street. His “have a good morning ladies” was met with a chorus of disapproval.
Imagine this man just sat there looking at the woman and children in their discomfiture and did not offer to alleviate the situation. It was a picture of crass insensitivity and ignorance of the norms of natural behaviour.
And this is not limited to strangers, I have noticed many men entering vehicles before woman they were clutching or walking arm in arm with. Sometimes they leave the woman in the rain and climb into the bus before them. Personally, after disembarking, he would be on his own.
But that’s another story.
I have dropped the seat and left doors open for persons behind me countless times. For me it is simply the polite thing to do. So, to that end feminist are not women out to set men on fire or to completely remove men from the earth. What we are pushing for is the mutual respect between the sexes.