The Chivalry Murders

Feminism has murdered chivalry.

Yup, I came up and said it outright: women, in our quest for equality and independence, we have taken a blade and stabbed that knight in shining armour right between the ribs on his left side and straight into the organ that is kinda necessary to circulate a reddish fluid.

My opinion came after reading this opinion piece talking about how you may be sexist without even knowing it. It talks about microaggressions – small, often unintentional actions that perpetuate sexism. While I don’t disagree entirely with the premise and a few very good points were brought up, an example was given and discussed at length that made smoke come out of my ears: chivalry is a sexist microaggression.

Well my dear Ally Boguhn, you now not only got people screaming at their computers that they were trying to be kind, you also got me screaming at your computer that you, my dear, are the reason why gentlemen are retreating into their parents basement to be consoled by World of Warcraft and half a dozen two litres of Mountain Dew. Because you have now gone online and on record and said that being a nice person is a bad thing.

Someone call a doctor, we’ve got a bleeder.

I will admit that I tend to think more along the old-fashioned lines. I like it when men hold open doors for me, I like it when they offer to give me a hand carrying things, and since I’m a hardcore miserly penny-pincher I like it when men offer to buy me dinner cause shit, free food. These actions in my mind are not sexist, it’s the intention behind it – if you’re buying me dinner because you think I’m gonna sleep with you, that’s where it gets into the realm of sexism. But buying me dinner because you’re a gentleman and I’m a lady, that’s not sexist in the slightest. In my world, whoever asks the person out picks up the check – if you asked me to dinner, you had damn well better be throwing down your Amex card for it, same as I would be putting mine down if I did the asking.

Granted, I’m in a position now where it doesn’t matter who pays for dinner since it’s all coming out of the same bank account and I consider myself lucky in that from at least a philosophical standpoint Lord Imp and I are equals. And I think that’s where a lot of issues I take with feminists are in that so much time is spent nitpicking over things being exactly equal that the give-and-take is absent. Yup, I’m at home taking care of the baby and the house right now while my husband is off drooling on a keyboard in a computer lab. I’m making supper tonite, tidying up the house and I may even bake up some cookies. And I will probably be doing it again tomorrow. But I also get days to sleep in and he takes care of the baby while I take a nap. Tonite I get to sit on my ass and knit myself the ugliest pair of socks ever while Lord Imp keeps the baby out of my yarn. Sometimes he fixes supper, and I know that I will get a chance to do my own drooling on a keyboard in a computer lab this week. Is it exactly equal? Nope, sure isn’t, and often I find myself taking on a large chunk of the work that admittedly my busted body can’t handle and I do sometimes find myself angry. But I just spent ten days where I only got up with the baby for three of them and I only cooked two suppers so it does eventually even out in the long run.

There are still grand scheme things that need to be addressed, the equal pay thing being the biggest one among them. But from a purely small-circle standpoint (because let’s face it, the only thing that matters to me is the world I’m in), some of the things the piece addressed as being “bad” are part of the reason a good man is hard to find. We as women, in our fight for status, have ended up shaming and belittling men for being simply nice to a girl. Telling men that you should no longer hold a door open for her or pay for her meal is completely asinine. Don’t drive the nice guys down into the video game abyss, bring them out into the sun.

The article does bring up that people shouldn’t be nice to women because they’re a woman, they should be nice because they’re nice to all people and I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. However, buried after spending a great deal of time belittling men for holding a door open for a woman it kind of got lost in the argument. I honestly had to go back to the article to make sure that a counterpoint was in fact included, hoping that the author wasn’t really as whacked out as I thought. But it begs a question: is it REALLY so bad to be nice to a woman BECAUSE she’s a woman? Am I the only person who likes feeling special for no reason other than my gender? Am I the only person who enjoys being put on a pedestal simply due to the fact that I’m a woman? For thousands of years men were held in higher esteem simply for being men, what’s so wrong about me wanting it as a woman? I honestly see it as a bit of a double standard: you want to be treated equal as a man, but only if it means exhibiting power over men much in the same way they exhibited power over women.

I know, that was a huge stretch, but hear me out. For centuries, men have told women how to act, what to say, what jobs they can have and basic dictation on how to live. And here we are as women, telling men that their thoughts need to be reorganised, anything negative needs to be kept to themselves and they need to reevaluate their mindset. They need to stop offering to give a girl a hand. They need to do more housework and play with the kids. They need to be sensitive and caring and support a woman and her career. How is this any different from the way men have treated women in our society? I feel like in our quest for equality as women, we have found ourselves just as guilty of the same transgressions we tell men they need to knock off. We’ve been telling men how to act and what is appropriate, much like women have been throughout history. Which, in my mind, is totally not okay. Maybe we need to start working with men instead of against them.

So, all you knights in shining armour out there, hold open doors. Offer to pay for meals. Ask her if she needs a hand carrying something. Just don’t do it with a motive, do it because you are in fact a nice guy. And if she refuses your offers, then leave it at that. If she wants to split the check, go for it. There’s no need for you to hide the fact that you’re a nice person simply because it’s an example of “microaggression.” Keep being that person. The world needs more of them.

And women, for the love of God, let them offer. If you don’t need their help then awesome. But there’s really no need to tell these guys that what they’ve been doing is wrong. I get that everyone is different and has a different opinion, but holy counterproductivity Batman. As women, we NEED these nice guys, because they’re the ones who are going to back us up as we rise through the ranks, they’re the ones who are going to be our allies when fighting for equal pay and they’re the ones who are going to get up at midnight because a kid wet the bed again. Telling them that their actions are wrong is only going to put them underground – and we need these knights now more than ever.

So stop murdering chivalry. If anything, because I can’t ride a horse and I sure as shit need help with it.

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Invisible Disease Friday

I really needed a day off.

As each day went on, I had been getting more and more worn out, more and more unable to get up when laying down, more and more exhausted. So a couple of days ago, I decided that since one class was done and the other two were doing finals reviews, I was going to take today off, sleep in, be a lazy bum and not take care of anyone but myself.

Instead, I got stuck carrying the baby down the full flight of stairs that lead to my front door to take her to daycare so I could have a day alone. I got stuck going to campus and taking care of some missing equipment out of my drawer in chem lab. And out of the goodness of my heart I made a lunch run for Lord Imp, who is feeling crappy and I knew was going to need to eat.

And now all I want to do is cry. Because I don’t get to take care of myself and only myself.

All I wanted was 36 hours of not doing anything – not getting out of bed, not cooking, not cleaning, not doing homework and not taking the baby. Instead, I got out of bed at 7:30, struggled down the stairs, took care of the baby for a bit, took a nap, woke up and struggled up and down the stairs several times, struggled to get the baby changed and dressed, struggled to get her in the car seat and prayed as I teetered precariously down the stairs carrying her to the car. In the middle of all that, I had to deal with listening to Lord Imp bitching about how tired he was and how he didn’t feel well.

I really wanted to scream this, but didn’t. So I’m going to scream it here:

WELCOME TO MY WORLD.

I am tired ALL THE TIME. It is not uncommon for me to wake up and legitimately wonder if I have the physical capability of getting out of bed. It is not uncommon for me to not be able to move without an exceeding amount of effort. It is not uncommon for me to fall asleep in classes or want to take naps.

BUT I STILL GET STUFF DONE, and with minimal complaining.

I still do laundry. I still do dishes. I still make the baby breakfast and get her dressed. I still vacuum. I still go to class. I still study. I still do research. I still go to work.

EVERY SINGLE DAY. Despite feeling the same way you are (minus the congestion). My head is ALWAYS foggy. I am ALWAYS tired. And I am ALWAYS woozy.

BUT I STILL GO ON.

Don’t EVER mistake the fact that I am still plugging on without complaint as that I am fine. I AM NOT FINE. I am only moving because my options are to keep going or to die.

And I would kinda like to keep going.

The sad truth is, I’ve been taking spoons from the next day for a while now. And today I woke up with very few of them. And instead of trying to regain my spoon count, I spent today spending them.

I sent a copy of the Spoon Theory to Lord Imp. I hope he finally gets it.

</rant>

Twenty Five Years Later, What Now?

There were three big things that happened in 1989, only two of which I remember: my baby sister was born, the Berlin Wall came down, and a guy went into a classroom at a college in Montreal and shot a bunch of women because he was pissed off that he didn’t get in.

The fall of the Berlin Wall is the one I don’t remember.

I was reminded on Facebook today that today is the 25th anniversary of the massacre at L’Ecole Polytechnique (please forgive the lack of accents, I have not a damn clue how to do them on my laptop), and it brought with it a lot of emotion, the biggest of which is the question I distinctly remember asking my mother after overhearing her and my father talking about it: “why?”

Even my four-year-old brain knew that it was wrong and was something that shouldn’t have happened.

I still have a tough time wrapping my head around it, even now that I’m attending a tech school in a science field. A school that has taken great strides to even out the gender ratio, and in my mind has done a pretty good job. When I came here, based on stories I had heard I was only expecting to see a girl only occasionally, and that’s pretty far from the truth. Of course, most of the stories I heard from my parents, who went here in the Stone Age and their papers were turned in written in mammoth blood on leaves or something. But while I didn’t remember exactly when the massacre occurred, it did cross my mind from time to time, along with a new question:

Can it happen again?

I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a feminist. *GASP!* a woman in the sciences, not all about women’s equality and liberation, THE HORROR! Truth be told, it’s not so much that I’m anti-feminist, it’s really more to do with the fact that I’m selfish enough that as long as I’m getting paid equally for equal work, I really don’t give a shit what goes on anywhere else and with anyone else. The whole shirtgate scandal I seriously thought was blown way out of proportion and I kept my mouth shut on it until now because I really didn’t find it worth my comment above and beyond to say that bring in the fashion police, sure, because the shirt was incredibly ugly. But the potential for violence against women simply because they’re lacking a Y chromosome does bother me, and quite a bit at that. The fact that someone would get so pissed off over nonacceptance to a school that he would blame it on women and then go on an armed rampage – in Canada, no less – kinda frightens me a little due to the simple fact that it has the physical possibility it will happen again. We’ll forget for a minute here that the Quebequois are a different breed of Canadian who despite sometimes being overly conservative do throw an AMAZING party centred around overly-boiled maple syrup poured into snow to point out that anger and fear are two emotions that transcend cultural mindsets. And while I think that we are due for a cultural shift, at least here in America, I think that it is going to take way too long for that to happen, and that something needs to be done NOW.

The question is: what?

Some will say we need better gun control, some will say that we need to make everyone believe in equality, some will say that we need better mental health services. Unfortunately, all those take time, and given the amounts of school shootings in the news lately, it’s only a matter of time before another Marc Lepine runs into a classroom with a semi-auto targeting women. Having said that, I really wish media would stop their 24/7 coverage over these kinds of events, but that’s another story for another time. Women shouldn’t have to find themselves constantly on the defensive just because of their sex, yet here we are, in the 21st century and still having to prove to the occasional random jerk that we’re freaking equal.

Thankfully, that occasional random jerk is just that – occasional and random. The comment I most often hear when I tell men what I study is “wow, that’s hardcore.” Yes it is, thanks, and fortunately I’m at a place where I really don’t have to worry about someone coming into my lab with a gun unless he’s got a freshly killed dear slung over his shoulder. Which, not gonna lie, would be awesomesauce since I’ve been wanting venison something fierce, even though the kinds of labs I hang out in would be a really bad place to process one of those. But the fact that something like the Montreal Massacre has the possibility of even happening is awful and we really need to find a way to end this possibility.

I consider myself to be incredibly lucky that I have yet to experience some of the awful things that I have heard my fellow women in STEM go through, and I hope that I will continue my string of good luck. Although I will take this moment to say that this may have something to do with the fact that what many women find to be inappropriate comments I don’t find inappropriate – and if I do, I shoot back with something equally inappropriate. I have a wee bit of a reputation of being a woman to not mess with, and I do think this contributes in part to my lack of dealing with the crap – people are simply scared shitless of me. I’m cool with that, I don’t do what I do to make friends, I do what I do to change the world.

I guess what I’m trying to say in the end of all this increasingly drunken rambling as I down yet another tasty beverage from the Keweenaw Brewing Company is that the Montreal massacre shouldn’t have happened. And that the Montreal massacre can happen again. Until such time as we stop looking at women as different people, it can happen. Until people remove their heads from their colons and see that there are women out there in the STEM fields, doing awesome things and making a difference, it can happen again. And until we finally wake up and get it through our thick skulls that women can and should be in STEM, it can happen again.

So how about we remove heads from colons, knock some sense into them and stop looking at women as different people and stop it from happening again?