When feminists complain about “chivalry,” what we’re talking about are actions that treat women differently than men based on the assumptions this article refers to as “benevolent sexism”: “attitudes that idealize women as pure, moral, pedestal-worthy objects of men’s adoration, protection, and provision.” We’re NOT talking about general politeness, where people try to be helpful to other people regardless of gender. And the reason we’re getting up in arms about this is that it does seem—based on this study at least—to cause actual harm; feminists have been speculating that chivalry would be harmful for ages now. According to the article, “when led to expect benevolently sexist help in a masculine workplace, women became unsure of themselves, got distracted, and consequently performed poorly.” This is one among multiple negative consequences the article claims have been tied to benevolent sexism. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t site any sources beyond this one study, and doesn’t even link to it properly.
Anyway, I’m just posting this here because I keep seeing people on my dash (and irl, and pretty much everywhere) gushing over how great chivalry is. If they mean chivalry as in benevolent sexism, then no, it’s not great—it’s actually pretty awful. And if they mean chivalry as in politeness, then that’s not what feminists are complaining about, so I don’t understand why they spend so much time defending it. Although I do wish they would stop calling it “chivalry”—imo, that word has always connoted inequality and sexism, and probably always will. Let’s get rid of that word and just all agree that polite people are awesome.