Chivalry: a code to live by or ‘benevolent sexism’?

Think of Chivalry, and this image may spring to mind

The code of chivalry was the code to which knights held themselves accountable during the medieval ages. in this day and age the word is often used to describe gentlemanly behavior towards women in general and is seen as a desirable trait for a man to have but is that still the case?

Think of Chivalry, and this image may spring to mind
Think of Chivalry, and this image may spring to mind

Researchers from the feminist Society for the Psychology of Women created a list of damaging acts which fall under the purview of ‘benevolent sexism’, such as: helping a woman to choose the right computer, calling a group of both men and women “guys” and offering to do the driving on a long distance journey.
Even men who think they are expressing affection might be guilty – the scientists said calling a woman a “chick”, showering her with unwanted affection or saying that you cannot live without her could also be sexist.
The researchers who are based in Washington DC, said there were many acts of unnoticed sexism taking place every day through acts or comments that suggested women could not cope without men’s help.
They said the victims might be unaware of the damage but the acts were helping to create a culture of women being seen as the vulnerable sex and encouraging inequality and injustice.
The study concluded that both men and women were “not aware of the overall prevalence and extent of sexism in their personal lives”.

I like to think that this is not the case. the rise of the neo-feminism movement in recent years has been such that any attempt to dispute claims made by them are met with cries of ‘sexist’ or ‘misogynist’. this attitude unfortunately, serves not only to undermine any possibility of productive discourse but also serves to weaken their position. in any debate regardless of who is involved, if one side refuses to acknowledge any criticism of their points then it ceases to be a debate and becomes little more than a shouting match.

I put this point to you, my readers, the age of chivalry need not be dead. speaking only for myself, I was taught to treat women with respect at all times and to offer them assistance if I thought they might need it. Does that sound like sexism to you? benevolent or otherwise? surely we can move past what is and what isn’t sexist behavior and just start treating each other with respect and manners. imagine what the world would be like then.

About Lorcan Mullally 12 Articles
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