Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are the old-fashioned courtesies just that - old-fashioned?

The publication of the new Liberal Democrat policy paper on issues related to women has drawn most attention for those elements addressing issues of imagery and how it influences people.

However, it almost certainly doesn't address the question of how the sexes interact. At least, I hope that it doesn't. After all, this really isn't an issue that can be addressed by policy, legislative or indicative. And yet, there is an issue to be raised here.

I was brought up to believe in the old-fashioned notion of chivalry. A gentleman held doors open for ladies, offered them the shelter of his umbrella, offered his seat on buses or trains, and stood up when a lady joined a gathering. All quite harmless, some might say touchingly cute. But that was the way things were done. And you didn't do that for men...

In these more 'enlightened' times, when women expect to be treated equally, one risks being caught by a paradox. If you maintain such habits, you run the risk of being seen as patronising, and there are some who will not hesitate to tell you as much. At the same time, there are those who are content to be treated in such a manner, and appear to appreciate such an approach. All very confusing...

So, is being a gentleman contrary to the ethos of equality for all, at all times?


Paul said...

I'm not sure how this is raised by the Real Women paper, but it probably is contrary to the ethos of our time but I still do it and there's nothing wrong with it. And, by the way, being called "patronising" is a badge of honour in the Liberal Democrats. It is almost as high an honour as being called "condescending".

Mark said...

I'd hold a door open for anyone, male or female.

I hate and never use umbrellas, so that one's not applicable.

I'd offer my seat to anyone frail, or looking tired, of either sex.

I sometimes stand up to greet someone, sometimes not; I couldn't tell you exactly when I would but I don't think sex is a factor.

In general, I don't think being polite will ever go out of fashion, nor will being considerate. Treating women differently is not something it would ever occur to me do, because I was brought up to believe that you should treat everyone equally.

But if you want to, then I don't see why you shouldn't, and I'd think women complaining about it rather silly.