“Dear Madam, I find thee exceptionally captivating and would be honoured is thou didst accompany me to a most excellent dance rave this night.”
“Thank you, dear sir, for the emphatic offer but I disirest not to be wooed at this time.”
“Very well, milady. As disappointed as the answer finds me, I must accede to thine own self-wisdom. Shouldst your position alter, I pray, considereth me!”
“O, I shall, good sir! I shall!”
I’m getting a little tired of hearing how the feminists have ruined chivalry for us straight men.
A recent article/essay from Psychology of Women Quarterly defined acts of chivalry as “benevolent sexism” and since then there has been no shortage of responses to this redefinition. Why are the mean feminists making it so hard to be respectful? Why do they hate gentlemanliness so much?
And aside from the article from the quarterly publication and its reactions, the internet is a great place to find inane articles where feminism is pitted against chivalry. As if to suggest that, only one of these two incompatible forces can survive and, right now, it looks like feminism has taken the lead.
There has been a great deal of conversation online these days about what is known as the “friend zone”. For those of you who are unaware of what or where this place is, it is that strange, hypothetical place where a guy (and it is always a straight, cissexual guy) sometimes feels he goes when the girl of their dreams refuses (or is ignorant of) their romantic advances. The romancer is then left to dangle, hoping that the potential “romancee” will one day realize how great he is, come to her senses, and take him up as their boyfriend or lover. In the meantime, the romancer’s heart is ripped asunder afresh each and every day that the two cannot be together since he generally seems to spend his time helping his crush deal with her life problems while taking the romantic back-seat: i.e. being a friend.
When put that way, it sounds almost poetic, doesn’t it? I’m sure the users of the term would like to think there is some elements of classic tragedy in the suffering they endure. But the truth is it is just male entitlement, plain and simple. It’s just a bit more of a passive-aggressive flavour than we normally see.
I want to start off this post by stating that if it comes off as argumentative, I have done something wrong. I’ve flipped this particular piece over in my head a few times now and bounced my theories off of some friends with relevant expertise yet the sum of my own limited personal experience prevents me from claiming this theory of mine as a universal truth. It is an argument and I will do my best to represent my stance as clearly as possible but, ultimately, I hope to offer this theory more as an invitation to a lengthy and possibly never ending conversation rather than assert my “rightness”. So, while I will argue that it is, in fact, impossible to not objectify someone, the subject of this post (as the title suggests) is an open question and your response, whoever you might be, is greatly helpful and appreciated.
So, having said that, I would like to address what I think is a misdiagnosis on society’s part in regards to sexist behaviour. We hear time and time again that sexually objectifying someone is wrong and that by doing so, a person is dehumanized into an object to be used as a means of sexual gratification. Oftentimes, when a woman is sexually harassed, the source of the issue is often identified as the aggressor objectifying her sexually therefore sexual objectification is wrong. I find this leap, making “objectification” the root cause of sexist behaviour, problematic. Continue reading