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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why Chivalry is still important

I know that sometimes men will say they aren't sure whether to hold open a door or pull out a seat for their lady, even putting down the toilet seat can be a source for debate or confusion.

I understand where these guys are coming from, some mention women that throw a fit when a door is held open for them, as if they can't do it themselves and they get offended. Now I have personally never done this, nor have I ever witnessed it, but to each their own and if you have experienced this or worry about experiencing this as a man, I understand why you might hesitate on the whole chivalry thing, out of genuine confusion.

Alternatively I also understand the indignant attitude of men that say well you wanted equality, and this is what it looks like... no special treatment here ladies!

I have heard both and get it, and it suddenly occurred to me why actually Chivalry, as a form of thoughtful consideration on behalf of men for women, is still important and needed.

Let me paint you a picture, not to cry about my hard life but to actually show a typical burden for a woman at a similar stage to my life and career.

Currently I am a Mum, working 4 days a week, still breastfeeding a toddler, and trying to stay sane/insane by having my own minimal interests. There are many unseen hurdles in this that a man may not see and that, as well as the need for Chivalry is the point of this post.

Lack of sleep is fairly common for both parents but as a couple that believes that breastfeeding is the right way to go for their toddler, the mum typically must take on the night time duties on a sole basis. This means our sleep is very disrupted, less so than a formula feeding parent, because you don't have to get up to feed the baby, but because the burden falls solely on one parent it kind of ratchets up again to being a good whack of the parenting job. The thing is, I don't mind it, its the right thing for my baby, and therefore the right thing full stop. It does mean however that little courtesies, of all the men I encounter are very much appreciated.

Most women these days, still do the lions share of the housework if the polls are to be believed and yet still work now as hard as a man in their job because, lets face it, nobody can afford to buy a house on a single income these days, or do very much at all in fact.

Is she going to go there folks? Oh no she di-in.... oh yes she did... A lot of women experience pain and mood swings, like clockwork, once a month, We don't talk about it or if we do we feel pressure not to, because it is taboo, and definitely not an experience that can be discussed or shared with the menfolk, so they remain mostly oblivious to the sometimes debilitating pains or fatigue that come part and parcel with the also logistical and expensive nightmare that can be tracking and just dealing with the accompanying flow. I know, I know, wah wah wah right? Big baby crying about something she can't change? Not really, but genuinely wish it was something we could acknowledge, because If I felt that way for any other reason I would take to bed until I felt better.

It is still the woman's responsibility to manage birth control. Need I say more? The day this changes will be the day science reflects a more fair society.

Finally, there are the gaps that women feel all to aware of in their career, when pregnant, on maternity leave or being a working mum and feeling divided between work and kids. We feel pressure, some from ourselves, and some from the job to prove that our families are not holding us back. I know a woman who works in an academic setting and in the upper echelons it is very common to see a man with a family, but not for a woman. Her commitment is questioned immediately if she has kids, this friend does a minimum of a 70 hour week, but is still butting up against a glass ceiling, because this is not enough. It would be for a man, without the scrutiny she is under. Women are trying to 'lean in' (Thanks Sheryl Sandberg) at least I am, but the pressure I put myself under to be better, use my time wiser, do more with less sleep, just makes me feel worse that I am not everything to everyone, in my role as mum, worker, wife. I am not even thinking about being me.

In all, without getting any deeper into all the messiness of being a woman, or equality I think women will at least agree, that the occasional door held open, or considerate 'ladies first' into an elevator is very much appreciated, and in fact needed now more than ever, but not because women are the 'fairer sex' or because we aren't as strong or capable. Merely because we have more to cope with on a regular basis, burdens we must shoulder if we are to take on the role of a woman in today's society and still get enjoyment out of life. It's ALWAYS nice to be appreciated and acknowledged.

It may have sounded like a rant at times but in fact this is an ode to Chivalry, because Chivalry today can be more of an acknowledgement of all the extra things a woman must cope with, as well as a sweet considerate thoughtful expression of recognition for all the hard work. And lads? It is ALWAYS appreciated. 

1 comment:

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