Reading an article on the invention of the revolving door and its ties to confusion in etiquette I started to ponder the relevance as well as the prevalence of acts of chivalry and etiquette in modern society against their connection to kindness.
Personally I enjoy opening the door for my girlfriend. I pride myself in it, although I don’t do it as often as I should, I am sure she appreciates it.
“No, please, you can go, I don’t mind.”
Are chivalry and kindness synonymous?
An article written by Kelsey Lueptow on a feminist website, Everyday Feminism, says it is important to understand that kindness and chivalry are not the same thing.
“It is frequently assumed that feminist women want to do everything for themselves. As a single mother/student/waitress/feminist, I can tell you that is not at all the case. It is really nice when people pitch in here or there. And when I have the chance to help other people, I embrace that as well. I’m all about kindness.
That is: We, too – feminists! – also want guys to be nice to women.
But we also want men to be nice to other men, and women to be nice to men, and women to be nice to women!
And inherently, that isn’t defined as “chivalrous.”
The author makes a valid point. Surely our belief in politeness or adherence to childhood manners should transcend gender boundaries.
When I pull the chair out for my girlfriend at a restaurant I don’t consider the historical relevance. The thought doesn’t even cross my mind. Is that a problem in itself? Do I just assume my girlfriend appreciates my deed? Should I be pulling out chairs all around the table, for everybody?
My girlfriend has been able to pull out her own chair since she was a toddler, as I suppose so can many of us. I’m not doing it to belittle her, I’m doing it to make her feel special.
I think it is important not to confuse chivalry and common decency. The idea of chivalry and its historical significance upsets people, and to me, that defeats the point of the act.
The fundamental message remains – be kind to everyone, no matter what their gender.
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