Recently, I had an epiphany. A woman had a small child in her arms and was attempting to unfold an umbrella stroller. I walked over to help her. She held her hand up, smiled, and said, "No, I'm fine. Don't worry about." The way my Tennessee Mr. Polite Mind/Body/Heart is set up, I was a bit taken aback. I started to insist that I help her, it being the right thing to do, and she said to me again, "I'm really ok. Don't worry about." She smiled. I stood there with my chivalry deflated at my feet.
I then realized that her desire for help is not what motivated me. It was my feeling that she needed or deserved my help because she's a woman. I know, I know. That makes me a nice guy right? Here I am, half her weight, and because I'm a man, I felt the need to save her from the tyranny of a squirming tot and a stroller that didn't seem to be cooperating. Enter the paradox of chivalry. We often think that chivalry is rooted in all good things, but as I looked at the woman today, I was convicted by the idea that she needed my help or protection from her womanly weakness. That is rooted in the notion that women are inherently less strong than me.Read More