We are bombarded with rom-coms enlisting the baby face of Leonardo Di Caprio, the gentleman, Colin Firth and the ‘bad-boy’ Hugh Grant. In films where the ‘bad’ guy never prevails, or if he does he has to change his ways first and reform to be a gentleman first, it leaves a question mark regarding the fantasy/ridiculous element of such films. Yes, they are films, and I grant them that, but is this notion of chivalry sculpting womens’ views of men to an unrealistic extreme?
Discussing with a friend about the issue of approaching the opposite sex in bars and nightclubs it became apparent that he felt obliged to approach the females he had his eye on, rather than waiting for them to approach him. Replying to this that it could be down to lack of confidence that a lot of (not all) women don’t approach the male gender and instead wait for them to express their interest, it was evident that he felt an expectation, an unwritten rule for the male to initiate things and follow them through. Why is this and is everyone the same?
I’d like to think of myself as independent, living three years in a new city and learning how to wash my clothes without shrinking them (i’ve learnt more than this, i think..) means that I’ve learnt to be an individual and an ‘independent woman’, cue Destiny’s Child. However one thing I struggle with is the boundaries between how men and women behave toward the opposite sex. Personally I’d feel awkward and a little embarrassed if I let someone buy me a drink, or two, if in all honesty I was not interested. Sure, if a friend offers that is fair enough, but if it’s a stranger in a bar, I always feel there’s something ‘more’ expected or needed. Call me naive, but am I getting near to some truth?
Asking some female friends about whether they approach guys first or if they wait for them to approach them, the outcome was unanimous…the male has to do all the legwork and the initiating. Wanting to be treated ‘like a princess’ and ‘spoilt rotten’ were the key wants in their relationships, however it left me feeling uncomfortable…have we argued and fought for equality for so long that now we want to be submitted back into being passive and heavily waited upon? Not for me.
Chivalry is an attractive trait, I am aware. Simple gestures like holding doors open, and ‘ladies first’ can go along way for some people, however too much more can be a little overbearing and irritating. To the lads reading this, I’m not saying be an idiot and treat girls horribly and with no respect, I completely condemn that, but what I am saying is that I feel for how much is expected of you sometimes, but that you think girls want you to behave a certain way when in fact all we want is you to be yourself. If you like being a ‘gentleman’ and paying for dinner constantly, then go right ahead, why change something you believe in and adopt, but if I do offer to pay ‘dutch’ or 50-50, don’t take it as “i’m not interested”, take it as “I applaud your offer and appreciate it, but I still have some loan left and want to help out with the bill” before getting the next round of drinks in.
N.B. This is not a view focused on all women, just from personal experience or research conducted. With regards to gender and ‘feminism’ it is unrealistic to make sweeping, dogmatic generalisations about men and women.