A "frequent reader" of this blog sent me a link to an article, and asked what I thought about it, noting that it could prove to be a good topic for a blog post. How right they were. The article in question is one by Kelly Connor that appeared on Huffington Post. In it, Connor uses the common situation of elevator etiquette to illustrate what appears to be a decline in chivalry. The most pertinent part of the article is as follows:
There are standard rules when it comes to elevator etiquette; current riders should be allowed to exit before new riders enter, one should allow for personal space and so on. But when it comes to the proper elevator etiquette for men versus women there seems to be conflicting opinions.
Emily Post, a name that is synonymous with proper etiquette and manners, says that when exiting an elevator the person nearest the door should leave first, regardless of gender.
A diverging view on ElevatorRules.com says that men should allow women to exit the elevator first, unless the male is blocking the door.
So which is correct?
Which, indeed? I would argue that Emily Post is correct. We live in an age of equality. Men and women are to be treated equally in all situations (or should be), so why draw the line at something like elevator etiquette? What would be the need for a distinction? Boarding, riding and disembarking from an elevator has absolutely nothing to do with one's gender. Are men to be extra polite to women in such circumstances because one of them has a penis and one of them has a vagina? That's basically what it boils down to.
Kelly Connor, however, must still believe in a little differentiation due to the sexual organs of human beings. Otherwise, why write the following?
No matter how society changes, it's still nice to be treated with a little chivalry. It's a reminder that good, old-fashioned values are still regarded. Call me a traditionalist but I still appreciate the small, gentlemanly gestures men make towards women; a door held open or a seat pulled out at a restaurant.
First, I wanted to look-up the definition of 'chivalry,' to make sure I knew what I was talking about. Almost all of the definitions referenced medieval times, so that right there shows how antiquated the notions are. The following is from Dictionary.com:
–noun, plural -ries for 6.1.the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.2.the rules and customs of medieval knighthood.3.the medieval system or institution of knighthood.
Ok, so, now that that's clear, what we seem to have is a double-standard. The feminist movement (righly) pushed for equality between the sexes. I'm all for that. And, truth be told, I still try and hold a door open for a lady when the occasion arises. But I also do it for a man. And there's the rub.
If the sexes are truly to be treated as equals, then what should logically follow is that the equality spreads to all areas of interaction. If someone is polite enough to hold doors open for people, regardless of gender, then isn't that more important than making some archaic distinction between the sexes? If not, why not?