To The FemmeMobile! Away!

{March 9, 2010}   Chivalry: a dying art

So, G was talking about the Oscars, and mentioned Robert Downey Jr (a reason to go straight if ever there was one. As long as he stays clean. Please, RDJ, stay clean!) helping Tina Fey up the steps — a chivalrous gesture.

I have two sisters, at least one of whom seems to be alternately of the “chivalry is misogynistic” and “I like it anyway” camps. Personally, I have always liked it. One of the things that distressed me in dating women was actually my perceived lack of chivalry; I like someone who goes that extra step to see to my safety and comfort.  I can see how it can be misogynistic, but I can also see how it can simply be a matter of taking that extra step because you care for someone. Or for manners.

One of the things that I really enjoyed in dating DK was being able to take her arm, having doors opened for me, having help if I had high heels on.  Not all butches are chivalrous, and I’m finding it’s becoming an important thing for me.  I also find that it ties into a sort of caring mentality; butches who are chivalrous are, I find, more polite and… I’m not sure how to express it. More masculine, in that “Safety and family and manners are all important things, as are taking care of those who are important to you, let me help” sort of way.

One of the things that really attracted me to Q was the fact that she opened doors for me.  Such a simple thing, but it shows a thoughtfulness that will hopefully carry through in other actions, too.  It’s something I look for, when I’m looking for potential SO’s.

I sat around a table one night with DK, Nezu, and Phi, talking. Phi and I were talking about the thought of dating women — and how stressful it was, to think about having to reciprocate on the things we just expected from guys. How I like chivalry, for instance, but have no desire to be chivalrous. I had some idea that if I were in a lesbian relationship, we’d basically trade off — and that seemed exhausting. It was a relief to find that there were people out there who liked being chivalrous, and I could just be myself. Phew.

I like chivalry. It’s important to me, and it’s sort of a marker to me about how thoughtful someone is. I don’t believe it’s necessarily misogynistic, but can be done with compassion, care, respect, and not because women are the weaker sex. Not so many people do it anymore, and I understand why… but I sure do like it. 😉



G says:

See? This is one of those times when I read a femme blog and think yes, what she sees in butches is what I feel on a personal level. Crazy.

I suppose if chivalry is misogynistic, it’s no longer chivalry. It is condescension or some form of degradation. Real chivalry – or as I like to put it, care – is done out of respect.

And from MY perspective at least, I don’t want a woman worrying about whether she is chivalrous to me; that is not what I want from her. I feel like a) that’s MY gig, the way I show my affection, and b) I like a different, more feminine kind of care from a woman. Opening a door for me won’t do as much for me as fixing my favorite drink, loosening the knot on my tie for me, or taking my arm as we walk.

Nezuko says:

I don’t want a woman worrying about whether she is chivalrous to me; that is not what I want from her. I feel like a) that’s MY gig, the way I show my affection, and b) I like a different, more feminine kind of care from a woman. Opening a door for me won’t do as much for me as fixing my favorite drink, loosening the knot on my tie for me, or taking my arm as we walk.

Yes! this. This exactly. Thank you. I think that’s what gets me so uncomfortable with the very idea of a being treated chivalrously by someone else.

JB says:

*grins* Excellent! It’s tricky, because I don’t want to put things in a butch’s mouth, so to speak, but it is what I’ve observed. *laughs*

Misogynistic — I’ve read so much of the women’s lib/feminist stuff that I can see where it comes from, and yet I sometimes wonder if we’re over thinking things. I do think, however, intention matters: if it’s coming from a place of respect, then that’s what should matter. Now if only we could always know each others’ intentions… 😉

See, now, that’s what I like to hear. *grins* I’m glad my earlier assumptions were wrong. 😉


[…] March 2010 02:53 JB’s talking about chivalry, and it’s got me thinking. Actually she and I have talked about it before, in person, and […]

Nezuko says:

I was going to answer you here, but I ended up writing a whole essay on the topic.

JB says:

I totally used your essay in my most recent post. And shortly I’ll go respond. ;-D


I think of chivalry as the practice of showing you care–which can take many forms beyond the traditional Man Way. It is, in fact, my New Year’s Resolution to be more thoughtful towards my incredibly AWESOME partner who is much more naturally chivalrous than I am (and I’ve learned a lot from her). Between women it’s different, it’s not misogyny (unless you subscribe to masculine superiority). I think ALL women should strive to be chivalrous and loving towards each other. But maybe Femme Chivalry doesn’t register as “chivalry” because *that* is what male people do! But mixing your favorite drink seems chivalrous to me! Calling to check up on you after a rough day does too. And LOTS of other things that femmes are known for doing are very chivalrous.

I think Traditional Chivalry needs a Lesbian Make Over.

JB says:

I’m so glad you posted this, mostly because… well, I disagree. *laughs!* But it made me sit down and try to figure out where I think chivalry and showing you care diverge, which has given me a lot more insight into what I’m responding to! …which led to an entirely new post. *laughs* Thank you!

Between women it’s different, it’s not misogyny — *laughs* Oh, I think there’s a lot of internalized misogyny you get from women. Anytime one woman makes a crack about women being unable to drive well, or condescends because women are weaker, and sadly I’ve seen quite a few butches who are also sexist. 😦 But maybe it doesn’t have to be misogyny, which would be nice! Or maybe I misunderstand you — entirely possible. 😉


Jen says:

Just as an FYI, since I mentioned this over on DK’s blog . . .

I had a really weird dream last night involving you and DK being still together, and the three of us having a threesome.

I’m not sure what that says, but in my dream, the sex was incredible.

Maybe it says I need to not be reading about your sex life while not getting laid. I dunno.

JB says:

LOL! Maybe you need to find some hot lesbians and go have a lot of sex. ;-D


Jen says:

If only I knew where to look or say . . . had any lesbian friends in town to show me where to look. Maybe I need to move to a city where being gay isn’t so flagrantly frowned upon . . .it is Kansas, y’know.

[…] the other day I was talking about chivalry, and then last night Q and I headed out to grab food and she was opening doors and whatnot. It […]

Bond says:

As a chivalrous butch, this post made me smile. 🙂

JB says:

*grins* Excellent. 😀


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