Chivalry is dead, but Common decency isn't

Originally on Bellanaija

Before I begin in earnest, I feel that it’s essential that I give you some information about me. You should be grateful. I don’t do this often. To find out even a smidgen about me, most people have to read all 200 or so articles on my blog, and glean from that how much is fiction and how much is fact. My name’s Afam. It isn’t my everyday name, but what’s it to you? You say Afam, and I answer. I even made a surname for myself, Odi. It’s quite a nice surname, Odi. At least I like to think so. I’m 23 years old. It’s a lot better than 22 and it’s probably going to be better than 24. What can I say? It’s been a good year. I’ve been single for a while. I don’t mind it too much though. My last relationship didn’t end that well, and now, I’m quite sure that I’m fated to spend the rest of my days scribbling in books, and travelling the world. I sometimes say that I’m not the typical Nigerian, but that’s a lie, because I can’t say what the typical Nigerian is. As far as I know, we’re all incredibly, marvelously different, and because of that none of us could really be said to be the typical anything.

I despise chivalry. The very idea of it makes me cringe. The very idea of it has always made me cringe. You see, when I was a child, I was very little. I was the shortest in my class for more years than I care to remember, and I was the weakest too. I didn’t mind this too much. I didn’t mind that through out secondary school, there were girls in my year that could beat me silly if they put their minds to it. There were girls that could beat me in nearly everything. As a result, I never saw why I should treat them any differently than I treated the average man. I didn’t see why I should slide back their chairs, or hold up their umbrellas when it was raining, or open the door for them when they were passing through or pick up their tabs. Even though much of the previous sentence is in the past sense, all of it still holds. I think it daft that I should be expected to assist members of the “fairer” sex in performing tasks that are so unbelievably mundane, that the offering of help in their regard can only be thought of as condescending.

When I was in secondary school all of that was fine, but the moment I got to university, it became a problem. In my first year, I asked a girl out. She’s a rather lovely girl that I call frog, because she called me princess, once. When I asked her why she called me princess, she said, “I call all my guy friends princess.” And it was true. She did. But I didn’t particularly being called princess, so I called her frog. Anyway, I took her to see Zombieland, a horrible movie for a first date by the way (learn from my mistakes. Please!). When we were paying for our tickets, I walked forward to pay for mine and left her standing in the line. I did not even imagine that I might be expected to pay for hers as well. This counted against me in more ways than one. I went from being Afam, the kind of nerdy, kind of cool, kind of cute guy, to being Afam, the poorly behaved.

The reputation stuck, but I didn’t try to shake it. I didn’t see why I should. My money is important to me. I do not spend it on others freely. It is unlikely that I will ever foot the whole bill on a first date, because if the date were to go horribly, then I would have gained nothing, but lost my money.

While it is true that I find all things chivalrous deplorable, there is something to be said for common decency. The fact that I won’t sprint to your side of the car, so that I can yank your door open in good time, says nothing about my character. If anything, it speaks poorly about me. It says that I, Afam, am a staunch supporter of abject laziness. However, if the person in my passenger’s seat has broken an arm, or a leg or even strained an ankle, then I will assist with the door, because it will be unkind not to. If a person weaker than I am, is struggling with a case that I can lift quite easily, then I will help, and if there is a pregnant woman on the bus, I will give up my seat for her. If someone is walking behind me, and we have to go through a door, I’ll hold it open until they pass. These things are decent, but not at all chivalrous.

In this day and age, when all but the incredibly addled and stupendously daft accept that women are more or less equal to men, I do not see why there is such a thing as chivalry.

If we all accept that women can do everything that men can, then we should let them. And that my friends is the difference between decency and chivalry. The latter is dead, but the former is not.

Tata for now (ttfn)

This one got me into heaps of trouble with my commenters on Bellanaija. I know people say ignore the negative comments but I don't. I embrace them. Sometimes they teach you something new, and sometimes, they're amusing. They're never quite offensive. They are at their least offensive when they're at their most offensive, which is somewhat ironic. I picked up a host of names for this one: cheap, inconsiderate, big head (I liked that one. My head is massive), naive (and I am naive), juvenile, selfish, stupid, hypocrite, proud (I am proud), person with low self esteem, fool, silly twit (I can be a little bit silly sometimes so this one's sort of true), frustrated (this person also suggested that I see a psychologist but I already have one, so #awkward), poor (I am sort of. I have a paupers spirit), guy who carries a grudge against women (I don't think so), and narcissistic. 

The winning comment was this one by Iyke:

Rubbish! Your efforts have over engaged me…and I am exhausted by the fanfare that excuses the presence of gathered truth… Annoyed by the misuse of misguided values…your inability to grasp a concept of purposefulness…and authenticity…finds me uninterested…distant and indifferent… Perhaps a cookie and a sip of Earl Gray tea might help…a hot cup of sensible persuasion…sugar….the aroma of a fresh beginning I can embrace…hold on to…cream no longer needed…required.

I found that one very amusing. 

The worst one was the one where I got told to go and die. I didn't like that one too much. I'm very sensitive about death.

As things were getting very heated in the comments section, I joined in as well. I wasn't insulting, or condescending or rude. I was a tad sarcastic, and more than a little bit funny. 
 That's ace commenting.

I didn't feel the need to defend my position on chivalry, or my behaviour on a date I had 4 years ago. It wasn't a serious article, so I found it difficult to treat the people who took it seriously, seriously. I am happy that it struck a nerve. I'll take those 101 comments, I'll take them all the way to the bank, and then I'll write another article on bellanaija about how, I really don't want to get married, and why I don't want people to talk about marriage around me, and why I don't want to have children. Yes, my name is Afam and I am a rambling madman. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I probably wouldn't go quite as far as calling you a cheapskate or juvenile but I do think (based on the example you gave) that your attitude is a bit misguided. If you invite a girl you're not really familiar with to go out with you, you should always pay as you're the host. Especially as in this case you picked the activity and assuming she didn't really have a say. I don't consider your paying to be chivalrous but common decency. If I agreed to go out with you after you invited me out and you didn't pay, no amount of wit and charm would forgive what I would see as rudeness. If every guy who asked me out expected me to pay then my rejection rate would be through the roof cos I'd have to be interested in the guy right there and then to risk being out of pocket if the date turned out shitty whereas my current policy is giving a guy the chance to make me interested. If we were friends and I knew you fairly well then I'd be perfectly happy to split the bill.

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