While Chivalry May be Dead in America, It Never Existed in Other Cultures

Chivalry is dead.

Living in America, we are constantly told about the historic importance of graciousness, and the defense of decency. What we often fail to understand, however, is that in many non-American cultures, chivalry cannot be dead, because it never existed in the first place. In many of these cultures, including my own Indian culture, chivalry is virtually nonexistent. Chauvinism runs rampant among the people of these societies.

Listen up, men and women of UCSD — reading this just may provide you with a different perspective on the way in which you live your life. Perhaps it will make you think twice about any preconceived notions you hold regarding the opposite sex. If not, that’s OK too. At least I would have made my point, and hopefully it will lead some of you to look more closely at your own experiences, to see if this applies to you.

Some of you are probably wondering where exactly I am going with this whole spiel. Let me be a little more specific. In our seemingly progressive society, one would assume that both male and female individuals would oppose such a gender-specific typology. Unfortunately, the notion of gender roles still exists today. Forget chivalry, even equality among the sexes is considered nonexistent in many cultures.

This has become a source of argument between myself and a male friend of mine, who is also of Indian descent.

Upon seeing me and my roommate cooking dinner last year, my friend — who is also a self-proclaimed male chauvinist — uttered the four words that would make any woman’s blood boil. “”That’s a woman’s job,”” he said.

He then proceeded to tell me his backward, ludicrous notions that a woman’s place was in the home, and that a woman’s job was to serve her husband.

Rather than abiding by our instincts and beating our friend over the head with a frying pan, my roommate and I instead rolled our eyes and told our friend that he needed to update his prehistoric views if he ever wanted to meet a respectable girl.

He responded by saying that if he was not able to find a woman in America who possessed the willingness to go along with his definition of a “”dutiful”” wife, then he would simply find his future wife in India. I refuted his comment by telling him that what he wanted was a maid/babysitter/ chef, and not a wife.

Later that day, however, I began to think about the statements that my friend had made. I began to wonder if his views were representative of other males my age.

All sorts of thoughts began to surface in my mind. “”Did these men still possess such absurd views?”” “”Where did these views originate?”” “”Was I the only one bothered by his comments?”” and “”God … I hope that I am not destined to marry someone who possesses ideas as crazy as my friend’s.””

After talking with some friends of mine who are also of South-Asian descent, I realized that the typical Indian male mentality is alive and quite prevalent today. Perhaps I had been naive to think that just because in my own family “”gender roles”” did not apply, that these labels did not transcend into other minority households.

Many of my peers have told me that gender roles are an accepted reality in their own families. One friend, whose parents both hold full time jobs, told me that each evening after returning home from work, her mother is expected to cook dinner for. She is also expected to clean up after the rest of the family while her father enjoys leisure time watching TV or reading.

I was shocked to find out that her father had never before washed a single dish or done one load of laundry. While I found this behavior very disturbing, my friend had simply accepted it as a way of life. Her description reminded me more of a business than of a family. Author Lillian Bell put it best when she said, “”It is really asking too much of a woman to expect her to bring up her husband and her children too.””

Although I know of no woman my age who would tolerate this way of life, I also recognize that as long as societies continue to promote and tolerate the idea of gender roles, there will always be men who abide by it, and women who put up with it.

Here I was, thinking that the days in which women were considered subordinate to men were long gone. Little did I know that these ideas are still alive and well among males of my own generation. Only by refusing to conform to or partake in these silly, stereotypical gender roles, can we put a stop to this inane way of thinking.

The problem lies in the fact that the men who possess such silly notions, do so because of the way they were brought up. Most were the typical “”mama’s boys”” who were never given any responsibilities, and who, even at a young age, were treated like royalty. Welcome to reality, boys. If the only thing you want is someone to clean your house, hire a maid.

Well, as a sidenote to my poor, foolish friend who feels that he is going to find the “”perfect woman”” who will be willing to cook, clean and abide by her husband’s every wish, good luck. Any woman that puts up with such dictatorship is badly in need of a crash course in being independent.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not a vindictive person, and my purpose is not to lash out at all men — only those who are foolish enough to believe such silly ideas. And to all you males who still think that a woman’s place is in the home, you’d might as well see bachelorhood as a permanent way of life, because the only place you are going to get “”service with a smile”” is at your local Burger King.