“Why are you in a mood?” I asked my friend Laura. I could tell she was annoyed about something. She told me that when she was at our grammar school’s fair she went to move a traffic cone in the parking lot so that a car could pass. As she went to lift the cone, a man told her, “Hey, that’s not an ice-cream cone,” implying that she should not move the cone. He then asked a younger boy if he could move it instead of Laura.
After hearing this story, I became very angry. Did this man really think that because Laura is a female, she did not have the ability to do simple physical labor? Did he really think it was more appropriate for a boy to move the cone despite his younger age and smaller body? There was no doubt in my mind that this man was traditional in regards to gender roles.
Even though these initial thoughts went through my mind, I failed to consider that this man may have been trying to display chivalry towards Laura. If so, where is the line between being chivalrous and allowing women to be independent and self-sufficient? I appreciate when men are courteous and offer to assist me in doing tasks like opening a door or picking up something I have dropped. In most cases when men offer to take on a physical task for me, I do not feel that they are suggesting that I am incapable to do it on my own.
To let someone else move the cone does seem to be a chivalrous suggestion; however, by saying that the traffic cones were not ice cream cones he implied that as a girl, Laura lacked the capability and strength to do this effortless physical activity due to the traffic cone’s weight. I feel that the comment about the traffic cones not being ice cream cones is a sexist remark implying that she had no place to be doing this simple task. If this man was trying to display some form of chivalry, he failed to do so without being demeaning.
Although I appreciate generous actions from men, it is important to recognize that women are capable, and not damsels in distress in need of male intervention when faced with a simple task. This event proved that there are some acts of chivalry that actually degrade the independence and abilities of women.