Guys, Stop Treating Women Like Ladies, Because They Hate It [OPINION]
(Emily V. Gordon was a couples and family therapist before becoming a full-time freelancer writer. She is tired of men acting like gentlemen. We’ll let her explain.)
Hey guys, here’s a resolution for you in this new year- stop treating women like “proper ladies,” because guess what? We hate it. That’s right, chivalry is dead, but only because I’d like to kill it. It might have been noble at some point in history, but these days, men being gentleman feels like a grim duty more than a simple pleasantry. That has to change.
Now don’t get me wrong, we ladies want to be respected, we totally do. I can’t speak for every single woman, obviously, but I feel fairly confident in saying that in general, women want to be treated with the respect you’d given any other human being, perhaps with some optional added panache. But this has not always been the case.
The old school way of being a gentleman had men treating women like glass figurines, only slightly less intelligent. They opened doors because doors were heavy, and because we were often confined to tight skirts and ridiculous corsets. Our gentle treatment came not out of respect but because we were considered fragile, weak property. Our knights fought battles for us and courted with chaste, prim manners whilst having sex with their washerwomen/squires.
Women were to be put on pedestals, worshiped from afar, and aspirational, which sounds lovely, but had to be quite boring in practice. Now that we all get to wear pants and work during the day and make choices about our lives, what does being a gentleman look like now?
It seems to me that gentlemanly behavior is defined now by free will. Free will and grownup respect. We know that you are capable of being chivalrous, dudes, but we also can see your dead eyes as you walk around the car in order to come and open the door for us. Don’t do it because your grandmother or some Maxim article told you to do it. It’s a gesture, sure, but we can tell you’re faking, and it feels weird to us.
I was once on a date with a guy who broke his neck to chivalrously open my car door and then open the doors of the restaurant we were going to for dinner. “Oooh,” I thought, “this will be a change from the usual bike messengers/graphic designers I date.” The guy then proceeding to not listen to a word I said during dinner- he talked over me, he laughed whenever I laughed, he asked me questions and then checked his phone while I answered- it seemed his courtesy started and stopped at the door. It’s not that every man who opens a door for you will ignore you completely, but clearly, this guy was misrepresenting himself as a guy who was interested in my wellbeing and happiness. I would have preferred a guy who either ignored me completely or was genuinely interested in me and never once thought to open a door for me.
I don’t want to confuse men out there, so I’ll try and simplify this the best I can: we like gentlemanly gestures, but if they’re empty, you can keep them to yourself. We’re not made of glass, and we’re hella observant, so we know when you’re interested in us or just going through the motions. Let us know when you’re ready to laugh at our jokes, ask us what we’re passionate about, and perhaps tell us we’re beautiful too.
We don’t need help getting the door, but we still love romance.