I was reading Cosmo and I came across a short but interesting article written from a male perspective about chivalry (Cosmopolitan August 2013, pg 181.) The author, Sean Powers (@powersoz on Twitter if you’re interested) was told by his female friends that it was sexist to offer to help a woman carry her bag, to open a door for her or to pay for the bill.
I’ve had this discussion with friends before. When I was in Boston a few years ago I was quite shocked when men stood up and offered me their seat on the train. Some of my friends rolled their eyes and accused me of playing the poor damsel in distress, but I didn’t see it that way, he was just being polite.
It’s the same with opening doors and offering to help me with my bags, I know when someone does things they’re not doing it because they think my femininity makes me incompetent but because it’s polite.
It’s the same concept as when I offer my seat on a train to an elderly person, I’m not being ageist, I’m being polite and respectful.
However, just because I believe in chivalry does not mean I expect a man to pay for everything or to always carry my things, it’s just nice for them to offer sometimes.