A few days after I started as a freshman at BYU, I was headed into the library when a young man dashed by me and swung open the library door with a flourish. “There you are,” he said with a smile. But suddenly, what seemed like an isolated incident became a pattern, men opening the door for Relief Society sisters, young men constantly opening doors for me.
Annoyance started to build—“good grief, I can get the door”—and I started thinking maybe I was being too sensitive. No guy ever got the door for me before. Roommates told me the reason I was annoyed was because I wasn’t used to it. Those guys I knew before, those were bad boys and I was now with nice guys. That entire term I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I really hated these “nice” guys.
This was solidified when I went on my second date at BYU, the first one that I had been asked on with a guy that everyone had deemed a good guy—a Nice Guy. My car door was swung open and gently closed after I got in. When I opened my car door when we pulled up the ice rink, he dashed over and expressed how sorry he was that he didn’t get the door for me. Nice Guy insisted on helping me into the pea coat I brought, Nice Guy insisted on tying my laces. Nice Guy was actually suffocating and really not all that nice.
It isn’t just door opening – I went on a date where I had asked the guy out. When the check came for dinner, he went to pay. “Oh, I always pay when I asked someone out on a date,” I told him, as I not-so-gently yanked the check away from his hands and slipped my card in it, handing it back to the waitress. I was almost convinced I’d have to get a doctor; I swear he was having a heart attack for a good five minutes.
I’ve expressed openly my hate for chivalry and usually receive horrified expressions and mostly, a lot of questions. In my quest to understand why people still like chivalry, I got a plethora of explanations and a lot of questions as to why I could possibly dislike chivalry. I’ll answer why I disagree with chivalry based on those explanations and questions here:
What’s so wrong with chivalry? It puts women on a pedestal. When chivalry started becoming popular as early as the 12th century, it wasn’t to make women equal (shocking!) but instead it put women as objects to be won by courtly deeds and knightly actions. The idea was the “protect the weak”, who were the women and children. They had no rights, but men would do chivalrous acts so that’s just as equal (right?!)! Even now, treating me or anyone like a delicate princess is not equality. I want to be treated as an equal to men. When opening doors becomes a man’s duty that means ultimately the woman’s duty is to wait for her door to be opened. What a horribly passive role.
Why wouldn’t you want someone to treat you like a princess? I want someone to treat me like a human being and not like a pretty delicate princess being.
So do you want to only date jerks then? Yes, exactly.
No, of course not. I just don’t want someone to put me on a pedestal. You can be a good person AND be all about squashing the patriarchy, believe it or not.
You’re just going to pay for every date you go on? If I asked them, yes. So if I’m broke, I wouldn’t ask someone on a date, it’s just that simple.
I know you are strong enough to get the door; it’s just a nice thing to do. I’m not asserting my strength when I get open my own door. I’m not like, “Hey I obviously worked out, here’s me now opening the car door everyone!”
Here’s the thing, if I’m holding a box, you can get the door. If I’m ten feet from the door, just go in the door and don’t wait for me. But it shouldn’t be only men, of course—women can open the door too.
I did a little experiment where for an entire day, I did the same thing guys always do to me. I waited with the door open when a male was a few feet away, I said things like, “Gentlemen,” when dudes poured in the library while I held the door open (slightly smirking. I even rushed past some guy to open the door for him after leaving the library. Along with their horrified expressions, each guy basically told me the same thing, “I can get the door myself” or “Um, I’ve got it” or as one guy put it, “Don’t you think this is a little much?” Their feelings sum up my feelings perfectly, I mean, don’t you think this is a little [WAY TOO] much?
Why is this even a big deal? Can’t you just let the door be opened and stop whining about it, you crazy feminist? No, I can’t actually, because it bothers me. Also, to tell someone ‘hey deal with something you find sexist and stop whining about it’ is really rude. I can get my own door and I’m not really about continuing chivalric traditions from the 16th century that are so obviously patriarchal in nature. I’ve actually been on a date where there was a sense that I “owed” the guy something because he had paid, been so chivalrous, etc. I don’t own anyone anything, especially on a date. (This is not an isolated incident—I’ve heard stories from other people about “owing” the date something because he was so kind, generally sexual favors).
So, it is a “big deal”. So thanks but no thanks; I’ll get my own door.