by Mariam Tsaturyan
I left my house at 7:30am this morning. I have a Bar Preparation class at 9am, and I can’t be late for that. If you live in Los Angeles, then you know about traffic. Needless to say, a fifteen to twenty minute drive took me almost an hour and a half. As I rushed to class, one of my classmates was standing by the door. We have never talked to each other. My school is pretty big compared to many other professional schools, and therefore there are people in my class that I never exchanged “hello” with. In any case, when he saw me approaching the door, he moved quicker than I did, opened the door for me, and held it open until I passed. I said “thank you” to him and went inside.
During our ten-minute break, the same guy came up to me. “You know, for a second there I thought you were gonna bite my head off.” This is what he told me. I was actually somewhat insulted. I consider myself reasonably polite. I asked him why would he think that, did I ever give him a reason to form that type of opinion about me? “No, but you know, these days it’s dangerous to do anything nice for a girl.”
I didn’t think much of our conversation, until I remembered something that happened back when I was an undergraduate student. I had an apartment off campus, and I would walk to and from school. One of the streets that I took to go home was an uphill street. Many accidents took place there because the hill was very steep and the road was curved in a way that made it difficult to see if there was a car coming from the opposite direction.
One beautiful day I was walking to my apartment from school. I saw a car constantly move in and out of a parking spot. I realized that the driver was trying to parallel park, but was having a rough time with it. It could have been the uphill state of the street, or the driver’s inexperience. In any case, after watching her do this maybe ten times in a row, I was about to go offer my help. I got closer to the car, and saw that the driver was a girl, probably in her early to mid twenties.
As I was getting ready to approach the girl and see if I could help, I heard a guy’s voice. “Hey, let me give you a hand with that” (he might not have said this exactly, but that’s what I imagine he would have said.) The driver girl got out of the car, and without any words just handed her keys to the guy. Compared to the girl, he was the king of parallel parking. He got the job done in less than ten seconds. After this I slowly started walking again, then next thing I hear is the girl driver yelling at the guy who helped her. Now her speech, I remember very well, unfortunately. “You F***ing mor*n, women have rights now, and they vote too. Next time stay the f**k away, I can park my own car!”
The guy was more patient than I would have been in his place because he didn’t say anything, just shook his head and walked away. I was so mad on that guy’s behalf, and on mine as well. I kept thinking that if every girl treated a guy who did something nice for them in this manner, then why would the men bother to be chivalrous and courteous to us?
I understand and I am grateful that I live during times such as these, where at least blatant discrimination does not exist anymore. As a woman, I do think that men and women are equal. However, I also don’t believe in absolutes. I wholly believe that there are things that men can do better, and women will struggle, just as there are areas where women excel, and men struggle. There will probably be women out there who disagree with me. That’s fine. This is my opinion shaped by what I have seen and how I have been raised.
As much as I love having rights and being on equal footing with men, I still love and crave all the sweet gestures that men used to do. I love it when my fiance opens and holds the doors open for me. I love it when he walks me home. I love it when he pays for dinner, even though I offer to pay (I have to be sneaky sometimes and slip my credit card to the waiter before we sit so I can pay sometimes). I love it when he takes my car to car wash if I don’t have time for it. With the same token I love to do things for him. Cook, pack lunch, laundry, or whatever he needs. Does loving these gestures and returning them in kind make me a weak or dependent woman? I really don’t think so. I love chivalrous men. No matter how strong or independent a woman may be, it still feels pretty darn good to be treated like this.
So dear women out there, if you don’t like this treatment, that’s fine, but don’t you dare to ruin it for the rest of us!!! It would be a sad day indeed if chivalry is completely dead.
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