Chivalry and Sexism – Directly Related?

There seems to be far less chivalry today than only 50 years ago. Men don’t often pull the seat out for women. The first person to leave the elevator is usually who’s ever closest.

There’s also far less sexism in the world than 50 years ago.

Do you think the two forces are directly related? The more sexism there was, the more we did to give the impression that women were respected and powerful. With less sexism, we needn’t invent such masks.

6 Responses to Chivalry and Sexism – Directly Related?

  1. Sean says:

    Interesting. I kind of see it differently, though. There could be a positive correlation between sexism and chivalry.

    If a man holds a door for a woman, a possible thought running through his mind (even if on a conscious level he is just trying to be nice) could be that the woman needs the assistance because she is less able to walk through the door on her own. This is similar to how one might hold the door for a small child.

    In that case, although the man is performing an act (holding open the door) considered chivalrous, it is also mixed in with a bit of sexism.

  2. Zoli Erdos says:

    Call me old-fashioned, but these forms of courtesy are not “masks” for me. I also believe that you’ll see them more often where you are now, than over here in the US…

  3. Brad Shorr says:

    Your post could generate enough commentary to fill several books! Today, it’s really hard to figure out how women want to be treated. Some enjoy chivalrous treatment, but others are offended. I think part of the problem is, today, equality between the sexes is often equated with sameness. I don’t think that’s realistic.

  4. Chris Yeh says:

    Chivalry and sexism are related in the sense that sexists used chivalry as a mask and justification for sexism. It’s like saying, “some of my best friends are Jews.”

    But while chivalry was used for bad reasons, chivalry doesn’t imply sexism. It simply means treating people with respect.

    A great example of this is the movie, “Take The Lead,” in which the dance instructor Pierre Dulaine teaches his male urban dance students to treat women with respect.

    Coincidentally, this chivalry also makes Dulaine a chick magnet. Either that, or it’s because he was played by Antonio Banderas!

  5. Joel Melling says:

    I would have to agree, that it originally might have been created due to sexism.

    A lot of the reduction in it is two-fold. One it isn’t being taught anymore especially with the increase of single parent (usually mother) households in the US.

    I was taught to do things like holding open the door by my father. If I didn’t have a father to teach that to me, who knows if I would have picked it up.

    The second in my opinion, is American women and their opinions on sexism has caused a decline. I know I personally have been almost yelled at because some women think that me holding the door open for them implies I feel they can’t do it themselves.

    I have gotten into the habit that I just hold the door open for others, regardless of gender. This has reduced the amount of times I have gotten a negative response because I do it for everyone following directly behind me. I guess it is now more courtesy than chivalry for me. It also offers me the opportunity to smile and greet people everywhere I go.

  6. Dan says:

    Do you think the two forces are directly related?

    Yes, and there’s also an argument that chivalry is a form of sexism, “benevolent sexism.” Here is a cross-cultural study of hostile sexism and benevolent sexism. Their measure of benevolent sexism includes items like “In a disaster, women ought to be rescued before men” and “A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man.” Comparing scores on the benevolent sexism scale from people in 19 different countries with indices of gender equality for the countries, the correlation is around -.4 (after controlling for level of development). In other words, there’s more benevolent sexism in countries with high gender inequality. Benevolent sexism also correlated positively with hostile sexism, both on the individual level within almost every country, and on the country level.

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