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What happens to chivalry once women are "equal" to men?

In Sweden, as most of the scandinavian countries, gender equality exists more so than in other parts of the world. (See: ) However, informally, among my Swedish friends, I am hearing about some side effects of this much sought-after socialization of equality:

Some Swedish women friends complain Swedish men are not very chivalrous: won't buy dinner or drinks, won't go out of their way, want compensation or reciprocation for having done things, for women. However, women say that men make time to talk (about anything) and absolutely help with the household work.

Some Swedish men complain that Swedish women feel overly entitled to things that they did not necessarily earn: affection, gifts, favours etc. That they expect chivalry at the expense of men. That they chastise men for not being more manly. But the men absolutely encourage women to assert themselves and go for whatever it is they want / deserve.

I feel that in North America, and other societies that are still not "there" yet, women's efforts to be equal to men may be partially thwarted by their own ingrained socialized thinking that chivalry is / will always be necessary in the dance between men and women. Some Swedish women even miss it!

  • Apr 5 2011: My wife asks why women would want to be equal when they are already superior.
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    Apr 5 2011: 1. the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, esp courage, honour, justice, and a readiness to help the weak
    2. courteous behaviour, esp towards women
    3. the medieval system and principles of knighthood
    4. knights, noblemen, etc, collectively

    [C13: from Old French chevalerie, from chevalier ]

    I see nothing in the definition that would hinder all people from acting with courteous behaviour, espousing courage, valour, honour, justice and a willingness to help the weak. Man or woman, politeness is an under rated personal skill.
    You do not have to be a man to know that holding the door for the next person or a person holding bundles is a sensible and respectful thing to do. It is not gender specific to speak up when someone is being bullied.

    My point is that as women gain rights they have to step up as well.
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      Apr 5 2011: Debra, I agree with you I would also add that men need to be more conscious of the need to step aside a little. This does not mean we have some power that a women doe not have and we are so kindly giving some of it up, (although some men might look at it that way) it really means that we have a built in default which makes us do things by instinct (wrong a lot of the time) and we need to understand that. I have a very good friend who is black and he said to me once that he does not get up in the morning thinking "I'm black, today I will be successful." He gets up in the morning and looks in the mirror and says "Today I will be successful." Maybe men and women need to learn from that.
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        Apr 6 2011: Lee, after spending a lifetime determined not to be limited by the configuration of my body and at the same time really loving being a woman and all that that entails, I have to say that the men that I find attractive are the ones who really love women as women and respect them as partners. They are not as common as I would have wished. In fact, in my first nontraditional job where I worked with all men many of whom were insulted that a young woman aspired to do what they did, i really learned the meaning of prejudice- when someone looks at you and sees something that is not fully as human as they are thus allowing them to treat another human being with terrible disrespectt- and I simply determined never to do that to someone else. The men that have earned my respect recognized that my brains and my other attributes were 100% on the same side as they were in whatever project we were working on. The ones that earned my love let me complete them where they were weak and they completed me where I was weak. It was mutual and respectful.
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    Apr 10 2011: I don’t believe chivalry will disappear once "women are equal to men". Chivalry is based on a series of intricate expectations co-developed by both woman and men on appropriate and courteous behaviour. These social expectations can exist regardless of economic or social equality amongst men and woman. A 'value-gap' between the two partners is not necessary to pre-empt this behaviour - despite the obvious observation that a substantial one existed in previous times, we cannot conclude it was essential for the behaviour to occur.

    It will be the continued appreciation of complex ‘social expectations’ from both parties which will ensure the survival of chivalrous behaviour, not the position of power between the players. Large portions of research have quite clearly shown that men and woman are biological and socially wired differently, with unique psychological and physiological adaptations for specific roles - i.e. motherhood vs. provision. Modern life has allowed for the blurring of these boundaries but noticeable differences still remain.

    The dance between men and woman remains complex. I don't expect chivalry or similar social mechanisms to disappear overnight, not without the conscious effort of both sexes and the complete revision of male-female social dynamics.
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    Apr 5 2011: Ok, I'm willing to have a go, I have the noose ready and waiting. Now before anyone attacks me personally for my thoughts please ask my wife and she will tell you that I am not a chauvinist pig. Ok disclaimer done: right, men and women are not equal and suggest never will be. Men and women are different and probably always will be, need to be moreover. When you line up 100 average men and a 100 average women the men will always be more physically able, that's just nature at work. If you ask 100 men of my generation I would think that they are more chivalrous and believe that woman are natures image of beauty and life. It's why we don't want woman to become soldiers and kill people no matter how just an act it may be. We cannot get our minds around the idea that a woman has the gift of life and would then be the one to take it away. Do we think that woman are amazing a capable as leaders and business people? Of course. Are women equal in the US or Great Britain? Absolutely not (And it is wrong) however, beyond a certain level they hit the glass ceiling of male insecurity and fear. Men will never allow this equality without a lot of kicking and screaming on the way. S.B I don't even think that men and women do share equal rights. If that were the case why dose a a woman get paid less in most cases for doing the same work (Usually better)?
    Now I have spoken in a general way for what I believe to still be true (Sadly) but it is an observation rather than an opinion. May I say on a last note that I believe that Chivalry is not dead. It is part of a mans DNA to want to honour a woman.
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    Apr 4 2011: I am a very independent woman who is self supporting and a vital part of my community. I love when people are polite. That is chivalry right?? A man being polite and potentially going out of his way to help...chivalry, self sacrifice.

    So what is the word when a woman does it? Why is extreme politeness a man thing??? Hmm interesting...

    Funny thing is, I shall often comment to a man, who has held a door or done a small gesture of politeness, That I am glad to see that Chivalry is not dead! I honor and delight when I see a man treat a woman as a woman. Kind simple gestures of civility have been lost. As we understand the power of a simple extra effort, we become more connected and in tune to ourselves and others.

    Thanks for the question it is a good one!!
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    Apr 19 2011: Disclaimer: I love chivalrous men. When I accept their chivalry, I return it in spades.
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    Apr 6 2011: I think you are really talking about perceived gender roles. Applying these vague perceptions to large groups is an exercise in convenience and futility.

    Just because one person carries an expectation of others, does not mean that everyone carries that expectation.

    Just because one member of a group displays a certain characteristic, doesn't mean every member of that group will display the same.

    As soon as you start to refer to individuals rather than to groups, these 'observations' start to come apart and they reveal themselves to be tired (boring) stereotypes..
  • Apr 5 2011: Your question implies that women are not equal to men, does it not? And if women are not equal to men, who said so? Women in the US are able to aspire and acquire any station in life, and there are no rules that would defy such a reality.


    Any inequality between women/men is simply one's imagination. We are our focus, unfortunately that may include a fearful and/or negatively oriented one. Therefore, chivalry being a term that traditionally describes a male tending to a female in an act of good-will still applies-- however, expectation is the beginning of disappointment.

    No one, man or woman, should expect anyone to act with unexpected goodness, which simply is confusing.
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      Apr 6 2011: Neither should they expect them not to act with unexpected kindness..
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        Apr 19 2011: I like this! That expectations of kindness or unkindness is not the point. Perhaps being kind yourself is all you can really do, man or woman.
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      Apr 19 2011: S.B. Davis, your assertion seems to be theoretical that, "WOMEN AND MEN SHARE EQUAL RIGHTS". I give you credit for including women in that sentence, where the US Constitution does not. But, aside from theory, the reality of sexist social grooming and glass ceilings in many industries do exist, you have to admit. Human and civil rights and laws don't quite apply to the world the same way as the Laws of Physics.

      I don't imply that women are or are not equal to men by my question--especially because there are so many possible interpretations (like, yours being the theoretical, idyllic one). I just want to know what happens to chivalry once a woman perceives herself to live in a fully equal society.
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    Apr 5 2011: I am for women doing all the things they wanna do. Who are we to say who is equal or who is not equal? If it is in the capacity for a woman to achieve something then let her do it.

    Paying for the woman's meal is not a negative thing if your intentions are not negative. Are you paying because you wanna assert your status or are you paying because you really love her and you feel like giving a part of what you earned to her?

    I tend to pay if I am on a date. But first I scare her by telling her that I have zero cash and we have to run out of the restaraunt especially if it is a hefty bill.

    I tend to treat women better than men because they are attractive, and I also treat them well only when they treat me well. I also like to pin them and body slam them on mattresses because I know it doesn't hurt.
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      Apr 7 2011: Hi Budmir: too much information! I was with you until you hit the mattresses.
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      Apr 19 2011: I'm always afraid of the intentions of mattress pinnings underlying the thin skin of chivalry in some men. I personally pay for myself, even casual drinks at the bar. It is too much work to untangle out of tacit social expectations created by money sometimes.

      Though, anything goes body-slam-wise and paid-for dinners when love and attraction are involved!! ;P
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    Apr 5 2011: There will never be gender equality. While women have made great gains in their struggle for equality, there are still so many barriers. Lower wages for women, domestic assaults, rape, lack of encouragement for young girls to be educated in the maths and sciences, women still taking their husband's name at marriage, women who choose career over having children thought to be selfish and not fulfilling their duties, lack of equal representation in government... I could go on for ages, and I live in a country where women have a lot of freedom.
    I think that because women have a history of being oppressed in so many ways, we are trying to break free from social pressures to become a certain type of "woman". Traditionally a woman is supposed to marry, have children, take care of her home and her family. In essence she is to give up her personal identity for the collective identity of her family, which most often is based upon the identity of her husband.
    I think that b/c of some of the things women don't want to become that stereotypical women. Speaking for myself, I don't feel the need for a man to pay on our date because I have a job, nor do I feel as though he needs to open every door for me, because I also have arms. I would rather have respect from a man, than an open door.
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    Apr 4 2011: I think gender equality is an oxymoron. It doesn't exist otherwise we wouldn't need genders in the first place.
    What women do want, is the same basic rights as men. Some countries/cultures are doing pretty good but others are still way behind,
    The problem starts when women overstep it and want ALL the benefits from both sides (man and woman).