Once upon a time in every land far away, there is always a princess who is only described with one adjective; beautiful. The princess grows up with no other role apart from becoming a damsel in distress.
And then a prince from another kingdom described with many adjectives such as strong, charming, smart, handsome and courageous scales mountains and braves the wild to come to the princess’ rescue. After the grand gesture of heroism, the prince and princess inevitably fall in love and live happily ever after.
Even as a little girl, I couldn’t relate to these stories. My parents made no effort to raise me like a ‘girl’. I climbed trees. I bruised my knees falling off bicycles. And thanks to my short temperedness, I fought my siblings without discrimination. My brothers didn’t spare me on account of being small or being a girl.
So then I was sent out to the world with the knowledge that I did (do) not have to be a boy to be strong, smart, charming, and courageous.
Now an adult, machismo and chivalry do not particularly appeal to me. I don’t need someone to open the door and pull the chair and fight for me. I do not need a hero. I do not need to be rescued. So dating should be easy, right? Wrong.
I have found that society does not appreciate it when women are not stereotypically in need of a big strong hero. You see, many boys have been raised into men who only feel adequate if they save the day.
They like to pretend that chivalry is meant to benefit women. But really, it is a way of fulfilling their compulsive need to be needed, thereby boosting their male egos.
In fact, there are many articles out there telling women that to be appealing, they must learn to be vulnerable. Even to the point of deprecating themselves by creating situations that make them damsels in distress to the benefit of the men in their lives.
But even as women are expected to let men play hero, there is the reality that human beings are generally selfish and most heroic acts have ulterior motives. At the same time, heroes are capable of turning into villains.
In the end, women learn that that ultimate security is found in being your own hero.
Some decide to do it in secret. They open up secret bank accounts. They invest in businesses and don’t tell their husbands about it. But they continue to be dutiful wives by creating opportunities to stroke their husbands’ egos.
Other women decide to be open about their heroism. They become the women society describes as insolent and far too independent to be wives. So in the end, it is clear that chivalry is nothing more than benevolent sexism.
Egalitarianism on the other hand rejoices, instead of getting offended when women are not victims of circumstance in constant need of rescuing. It also recognizes that gallantry and kindness should not be reserved only for women but for all mankind.