Connect with us

Features

Cisi Eze: Chivalry Is a Problem

Cisi Eze

Published

 on

According to Collins dictionary, Chivalry has different definitions.

It is the polite, kind, and unselfish behaviour, especially by men towards women.
In the Middle Ages, chivalry was the set of rules and way of behaving which knight were expected to follow.
Have you heard of the “Ten Commandments of Chivalry” written by Leon Gautier in 1883? Commandment Three states: “Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.”

Chivalry sees some people as weak. This makes me ask: “Who are the weak people?” It gets more interesting that it is a kind behaviour “especially by men towards women.”

Selective kindness is not kindness.

It gets interesting that you can draw a straight line, straighter than an arrow, from misogyny to chivalry. These two are part of one colossal problem: sexism.

In plain terms, notwithstanding the dictionary definition, sexism happens when you treat someone differently based on sex. Not all acts of sexism are essentially belligerent. When a woman is nice to another woman, even when it does not put a man at a disadvantage, because “woman”, we can conveniently state that she is sexist. An instance is walking into a shopping complex. A woman could decide to patronise the woman selling books instead of the man selling books just because it is another woman. This discrimination based on sex is in itself sexist. But does it hurt the rights and opportunities of the man? The point here is that sexism does not necessarily have to be violent, regardless of who is setting it in motion.

Sexism comes in two flavours – munificent and malevolent sexism.

Malevolent sexism is the one that makes some of us scream, “Men are scum!” It is the “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”. It makes you want to shout from a rooftop: “What did we ever do to men?”

Conversely, munificent sexism is chivalry. It is the acts of kindness channeled to a person by virtue of having a vagina. This type of kindness results from conditioning. It is pretentious as it is performative. It has an ulterior motive to fulfill a kind of desire or need. This need could be sexual, psychological, or financial. It could be anything. It does not come from a “pure” place.

If we are going to be kind and noble, we should do it to everyone.

Are you a man? Why do you open doors for women? Would you open doors for another man? If you would open doors for another man, you are doing amazing. You are not being nice to a woman because you expect anything.

Some cynical people would give “wonderful” scenarios:

“I see a woman with a flat tire; I am going to help her out, because I assume she can’t fix it.”

This is the crux of the problem! Why do they assume a woman cannot change her own tires? Is this not the same way people assume women cannot go into politics and do great work? Is it not the same way people assumed women were not intelligent enough to contribute to art and science that shaped most of what we see today? Why should we assume women are helpless and weak? “Helpless and weak and dumb,” but most of us bring human beings out of our bodies; most of us manage families and homes as a result of circumstances; most of us bleed every month without dying.

Chivalry is redundant, as it was created in the Middle Ages – a time in human history where one needed physical strength and testosterone to have financial wherewithal. It does not make sense right now. Au contraire, women are not weaker vessels. We can be nice and courteous to people based on the Golden Rule. “Do unto other what you want others to do unto you.” If we treated people the way we wanted people to treat us, we would not have homophobia, racism, sexism, ableism, and other forms of prejudice people viciously wield.

What is kindness if it comes with seeing the subject of your kindness as inferior? What is kindness if it discriminates? What is kindness if it has an ulterior motive? What is kindness if it is selective?

P.S. During an interview, Trevor asked Chimamanda about chivalry. She stated that people should open doors for people regardless of whatever. It is a kind thing to do. She also said it was sexist to open doors for someone because “woman”. People got pissed. Why? At this point, I have come to conclude that people want to get angry with Chimamanda. She will say, “Water is good.” But some people will find a way to twist it. They will change the context, intent, and content.

The other day, some white woman was talking about how there are other issues Chimamanda should have talked about instead of chivalry. Like, when Trevor specifically asked her about chivalry, she should have skipped the quessie and talked about female genital mutilation.

As I stated earlier, if we really want to, we can draw a very straight line from chivalry to FGM. These two are part of the same problem. All the problems of sexism are related. That stated, Chimamanda said what she said.

She said what she said.

Photo Credit © Innovatedcaptures | Dreamstime.com

Cisi Eze is a Lagos-based journalist, writer, comic artist, and graphics designer.She feels strongly about LGBT+ rights, feminism, gender issues, and mental health, and this is expressed through her articles as a guest contributor on Bella Naija, her blog – Shades of Cisi, a podcast she co-presents – We Said It, and an online radio show – Stirring the Waters. Aside these, she has works on Kalahari Review, The Rustin Times, Outcast Magazine, Holaafrica, Mounting the Moon, 14: An Anthology of Queer Art Volume 1 and 2.Cisi’s art challenges existing societal norms.

13 Comments

  1. Oma

    June 21, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Your words ….What is kindness if it comes with seeing the subject of your kindness as inferior? What is kindness if it discriminates? What is kindness if it has an ulterior motive? What is kindness if it is selective? … Tell me, Miss Cisi, are there any actions that do not have a motive, intentional or not? Be it kindness, malice, graciousness, spirituality, writing, reading, etc. Besides, going by your logic, when we are kind to children, old people or pregnant women, etc, it means we consider them inferior, right? Because we all know that most of us automatically treat these class of people differently and that is selective kindness or kindjess with an ulterior motive or is it discriminatory kindess – choose one. And this is my problem with the world today – all kinds of meanings are read into all kinds of actions – everyone is trying to shake tables where there are only chairs. Nowadays, people are afraid to relate as the new intelligentia police may see your innocent act – like opening the door for a lady – as a major insult born of an outdated concept from the Middle ages. The thing tire me. And biko, while CNA is amazing, being famous, talented, ive league educated and intelligent does not make her god so please, some of us mere mortals can disagree with her opinion and that is okay. You agree with her and that is okay too. PS. Dear hubby, please keep being chivalrous – it is one of the major things I love about you.

    • ***

      June 21, 2018 at 10:59 pm

      I like your terminology ‘intelligentia police’
      Everything is always an I.Q contest with cisi Eze
      Life is not entirely Logic and cognition, somethings are shrouded in mystery and nature; why do women have to carry babies in their wombs for 9 months and suffer discomfort? Yet the father is just as equal as the mother, nature is that fair? Etc I still maintain the intent of chivalry is not demeaning or reducing

    • tunmi

      June 22, 2018 at 1:07 am

      but we DO consider them inferior.

      In Nigeria, we consider children INFERIOR. which is why we’re so quick to beat on them and silence them into submission.

    • Username

      June 23, 2018 at 11:44 am

      And honestly if men started treating us women the way they sometimes treat each other, or if they stopped being chivalrous, we wouldn’t like it.

  2. star

    June 21, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Well spoken OMA it doesnt matter the ancient definition, i am very sure of one thing when nigerian men help a woman in any form its because they think she is beautiful and want to show they are nice. some of us dont want to be feminist is not by force, i enjoy how my husband puts me first before him, i enjoy a man taking a heavy equipment from my hands, even if some MACHO WOMEN can change their tyres there are better things out there for a woman to learn let the man who offer to change my tyres do them as i sit to gulp a buottle of coke,even if he sees me as weak thats for him it wont stop me from buying over a company or running for president. Please i enjoy a life where women are considered first and protected first because what people think can not stop a confident woman. So chimamanda should stop complaining about our husbands, brothers, nephews and sons . She should ACT and stop talking cause theres no time for grammer lets help women out there enough preaching, conferences and meetings, she should come down here and get her hands dirty then she can talk. At least you see oprah Winfrey go out to help even as she talks.

  3. star

    June 21, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Well spoken OMA it doesnt matter the ancient definition, i am very sure of one thing when nigerian men help a woman in any form its because they think she is beautiful and want to show they are nice. some of us dont want to be feminist is not by force, i enjoy how my husband puts me first before him, i enjoy a man taking a heavy equipment from my hands, even if some MACHO WOMEN can change their tyres there are better things out there for a woman to learn let the man who offer to change my tyres do them as i sit to gulp a bottle of coke,even if he sees me as weak thats for him it wont stop me from buying over a company or running for president. Please i enjoy a life where women and children are considered first and protected first because what people think can not stop a confident woman. So chimamanda should stop complaining about our husbands, brothers, nephews and sons . She should ACT and stop talking cause theres no time for grammer lets help women out there enough preaching, conferences and meetings, she should come down here and get her hands dirty then she can talk. At least you see oprah Winfrey go out to help even as she talks.

  4. nnenne

    June 21, 2018 at 10:36 pm

    @Star….And next time when you are invited to an interview, stick to the top and give your honest opinion, no matter ,what!

    No one has forced you not to do you. Did CNA do that?
    Cannot believe we are on this topic again!

  5. star

    June 21, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    Thanks nnene or whatever your real name is

  6. Cocoa

    June 22, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Yet another article on this NON-ISSUE

    Please open your own doors and pull your own chairs….I’m pretty sure men are not fighting with you on this NON-ISSUE.

    As for me… Im a LADY and will continue to APPRECIATE being treated as such 🙂

  7. Frida

    June 22, 2018 at 10:37 am

    Everything is an issue nowadays. Please, I prefer the good old days when women were treated as mini-goddesses just because.
    I appreciate being treated like a lady and always will.

    Oma, your comment hit the nail right on the head.

  8. Money Money Wendy

    June 22, 2018 at 11:46 am

    Anyone who disagrees with your words is very ill informed. You obviously did your research for this material and the worst thing that can happen to anyone is to argue without research. Thank you for this.

  9. Money Money Wendy

    June 22, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Also, you forgot to add social sexism, knights of old only opened doors or held chairs for elite women too, they were never expected to treat slave girls with any kindness. They treated women nicely if she was of noble blood, to gain favor in court, if she wasn’t an elite, she was treated like trash.

  10. Money Money Wendy

    June 22, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Also, you forgot to add social sexism, knights of old only opened doors or held chairs for elite women too, they were never expected to treat slave girls with any kindness. They treated women nicely if she was of noble blood, to gain favor in court, if she wasn’t an elite, she was treated like badly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Star Features

Recent Posts

Get The Pan-Atlantic Advantage

Advertisement
css.php