As woman’s day dawns upon us, two arguments immediately break out: what about men’s day, and look at how all the feminists killed chivalry.
On the surface, both these arguments seem to deserve some attention. Upon closer inspection, neither have any merit. Firstly, men’s day is on November 19. It is the same day as World Toilet Day. Do with that what you will.
The more important discussion is the one revolving around chivalry. A simplistic observation is that chivalry was the military and over time, romantic codes of practice upheld by knights and European soldiers.
Today, the focus is more on the romantic codes, because why as South Asians, should we really seek codes of ethical warfare from Europeans? Not that we don’t do that, either. Apparently one of the codes of chivalry was “Thou shall make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.” We all know who follows that.
But more importantly, moving onto the romantic aspect of chivalry, remember how knights always talked about treating the pious, virtuous maiden right? Notice the adjectives. Even back then, with the code and all, the onus was still on a woman to be a certain type. Only upon finding such a maiden would a knight try to win her over. Either those virtues were present, or she was a sight to behold. Fair, long hair, and all that.
The winning her over was also usually a very grand gesture. Think Shah Rukh Khan movies but with more blood and masculinity. A No was only a grand gesture away from becoming a Yes. And a No was not ever the right answer. So, a lot of men went about their way sending bouquets even though she said she was not interested, constantly messaging even though she would not reply, trying to be her friend only to secretly love her and expect her to love him back one day, and so on and so forth.
In short, there was and has always been a fine line between a chivalrous man and a creep. Nestled between those two definitions has always been the overzealous lover. Because knights never learned to calm down and they made sure others did not as well.
Once having failed in the some of the above-described modes of pursuit, for lack of a better word, the gentleman would resort to other seemingly innocent gestures: holding the door open, giving a woman his jacket when she was cold, trying to hold her hand as if she was incapable of doing things on her own. Basically, treating a woman like you would treat a child.
The chivalrous behaviour, upon closer observation, became a patronising one. And when some men realised that women could not be won over by gimmicks, this must have whipped them into a fury. And hence began the debate on how feminists killed chivalry and not about how chivalry had always been quite problematic behaviour.
All this gave birth to the Nice Guys TM. And what are those? Clearly, another discussion for another day. For this woman’s day though, take the leaf out of nobody’s book, be yourself, be a decent human being and if friendships blossom, then good and if not, just move on.