Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Is Chivalry dead?

"Chivalry is not dead, you just have to leave the United States to find it" - Melanie Angus Aiken

Now I am not talking about the men who push women on the trains to beat them to a seat or the ones who fall asleep instantly upon seeing a pregnant woman, even though that clearly proves my point. I was talking to my sister Melanie about her trip to Paris and Europe in general. She relayed a story of a guy flirting with her before boarding her flight from Atlanta to New York. She saw him again on the plane as she struggled to get her hand luggage into the overhead compartment. He did not offer to help her. In contrast, on her flight from New York to London, she repeated the same task and before she could get the bag off the floor, a British guy helped her with her bag. Coincidence? No, norm ;) Her next statement is what inspired this post, "Chivalry is not dead, you just have to leave the United States to find it"

I'm torn because I could easily argue both sides. Now to be fair to men (especially since I know some really good gentlemen who are not only nice to me, pregnant people and seniors but to random strangers with no ulterior motive), two things could be at play - women killed it

There are some women who are so keen on feminism that they would be offended if a man tried to help as they challenge "do you think that I cant do it myself?" Since this type of personality is not always often easily detectable, men may try to avoid the confrontation or embarrassment by being blind to the situation.

There is not a clear line between what will be considered sexism or a "man's role". Even the most traditional woman who wants doors to be opened could make the claim "I will pay the bill."

I was flipping through paper and my ID fell. I decided that I would find what I was looking for and then pick up the paper. The guy in front of me motioned to pick it up so when I saw him about to move, I quickly picked it up, thanked him and said "I  got it". Immediately I thought about this post I had in draft! Motives is everything. When I said that to him my motive was to make him know that I did not leave it there because I expected it him to pick it up. A few minutes later it fell again, this time closer to him and he hesitated, looked at me, I smiled and said "I just have too many things in my hand" and then I picked it up. The effectiveness of communication is not based on the accuracy of its interpretation. When I chose to pick up the items, I was communicating "I got this, I am powerful and independent, I can do this on my own", even though my intention was to communicate "you're not obligated to pick it up, I will do it, thanks for the effort". If the outcome is not aligned with your intentions, then your motive is irrelevant.

Positive reinforcement

If an act of kindness is warmly received, repitition draweth nigh! Criticism or ingratitude is the bane of kindness. So don't expect chivalry if you constantly knock it down.

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