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"Chivalry as an impediment to gender equality"
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"Chivalry as an impediment to gender equality"

Naaz FahmidaChivalry comes from the courtly behaviour of medieval times, but Naaz Fahmida, 27, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Bangladesh, argues that deferring to the supposed sensibilities of women does not advance gender equality.

Chivalry is a concept I have often struggled with. While the vast majority of times I see women eyeing the ‘gentlemen’ qualities in a man admirably, a notion creeps up at the back of my head to contaminate the hunky dory features of an otherwise commendable phenomena.

Fast disappearing in certain parts of the world, you still manage to glimpse men volunteering to vacate their seats for their women counterparts, either refraining from or immediately apologising if apprehended at expressing profanities in a lady’s presence, or unwilling to share certain kind of jokes that are only considered appropriate out of the ranges of a lady’s earshot. This is an act widely in practice, without the interference of any other disparity such as age or physical location, solely based on gender differences. It is avoidance in fear of ruffling a fragile female façade. It is an epidemic.

It all goes back to the medieval times, a more chivalrous era so to speak, where this code of conduct evolved partly from knighthood and partly from the trend and ideals of courtly love. Based on my readings so far it had been established with the noblest of intentions – to respect the honour of women! But just like all other ancient customs, the viability of such a tradition in today’s world and perspective is debatable. It poses an important question of whether or not an idea of this nature should be entertained by a group of modern women striving for sexual equality.

My sardonic sense of humour has quite often been considered un-ladylike and hence widely unpopular. While most often it draws a chuckle or an entertained gasp from the male sector, it almost always draws a frown of annoyance from women in my audience. This is solely because it is considered to pertain to certain crudeness, which is unexpected and unsolicited by females. This takes me back to the 3 F’s – fragile female façade – and how the emotional status of a woman is often confused with her physical abilities. There seems to be a need to protect the women psyche as well. Does it remind anyone about any other scenario, where often we resort to using euphemism so not to offend a particular group? Yes, you are right, the only other group is children!

Without further ado, allow me to make my point: in a world where we are so caught up with empowering women and fighting for their rights (quite rightly so), is not there a part of us that neglect the fact that progress can only actualize when all the relatable wheels are in motion together? Empowerment of women alone would not suffice until or unless we spend time trying to understand the male psyche as well.

photo credit: Bob Ramsak via photopin cc
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About me: I am an Accounting graduate and HR specialist, currently a PR and Communications person by the day. Donning my superman outfit, I invade the writing world once the clock strikes midnight!

I am Bangladeshi first, Australian second, have a fair dinkum accent and accentuated Bangali-ana, a Muslim name and inheritance. I’m a firm follower of Rama and Dharma, which makes me weak in the knees for Buddha, and I love Christmas. For everything else – you must follow the white rabbit!”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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