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Training chivalry

05/10/2009
I was sitting on the old packed out commuter train this week, smug with the fact that a) I had a seat b) I was on an earlier train and c) I had a copy of the new Jim Collins book (yeah I know it doesn’t take much).  When I saw a lady get on in her 50s and looking around seeing there were no seats.  She clearly was not a commuter and had not bought into the madness that is our daily lives.
Now my instinct in this situation is to give my seat up (thank you mum and dad).  In the same way that I hold doors open, let women onto the tube first, offer my coat if its cold etc.  And in this case I followed my instinct.  The lady was very grateful and as some weird anti-Pavlovian reward, I got to stand for 45 minutes.  
More interestingly , what followed was a Mexican wave of chivalry.  Every time a lady stepped into the carriage men were fighting to offer her their seat (apart from the three young male bible students…but that’s a whole other story!).  The reactions of the women were mixed.  Some accepted, some looked decidedly put out.
So I ask, in a world where we are suppose to strive for equality, does this make me chivalrous, or does it make me anti-feminist?  And should I really care or just keep on doing what I am doing?
From the Oxford Dictionary

chivalry • noun courteous behaviour, especially that of a man towards women.

feminism • noun the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of sexual equality.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    05/11/2009 08:03

    Hi HRD, just to give my 2p’s worth…

    I’m a woman in my twenties, and while it’s always nice to get a seat, I am quite capable of standing and I think if anything people should be giving up their seats for the elderly (regardless of sex), or people on crutches, pregnant women… essentially those who really need to sit down.

    Now, leaving all that aside, we come to the tricky etiquette of seat-offering, but I imagine that’s a whole post in itself!

  2. HRD permalink
    05/11/2009 12:31

    @Anonymous – Hi there and thanks for your comment. I completely agree with your comments on the elderly and infirm. But if I was in a train and all the seats were taken and you were the only person standing and I offered you my seat, would you take it?

    As for the etiquette of offering, sometimes I think perhaps we need some measure of means testing, we could give each individual a ranking…..

  3. humanresourcespufnstuf permalink
    05/11/2009 16:13

    4 years of military school really hammered chivalry home. I hope it is never perceived as sexist, because that is never the intent. My opponent, who is quite a strong and successful woman in her own right, appreciated my sense of courtesy and chivalry. Her friends clearly appreciate it as well, as I’ve noticed all of their significant others opening car doors for them (no tube out here on the prarie!).

  4. HRD permalink
    05/11/2009 20:39

    @Puff – Thanks for the reassurance. I never intend my actions as being sexist, they are just the way that I have been brought up.

    Is there an opening for a tube line out there? I know someone, who knows someone, who has a spade…….

  5. Lena permalink
    05/12/2009 04:15

    Mexican wave of chivalry…
    When I first came back to Mexico I did find it quite strange that men would open doors for me or offered their seats, even pay for coffee… Because that is how they were raised…
    Far from finding it sexist… I think it quite charming…
    So HRD… Just follow your instinct… I’m sure there are many women out there who just think like me…
    And about Mexican waves… did you know they are not even Mexican? They first started in Seattle… and were meant for football games… not soccer games… but that’s another story…

  6. HRD permalink
    05/15/2009 15:11

    @Lena – Thanks for the comment, good to know that if I’m ever in Mexico I can give up my seat, but not organise a wave.

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