A Response to John Picciuto
The first time I went out with my now-boyfriend was a super casual trip to get fro-yo. As we approached the register, I took out my wallet to pay for my soft-served deliciousness and he shot me a confused look, almost as if to say, “Wait, aren’t I paying for you?” I laughed and politely refused.
I didn’t refuse because I was allowing him to get away with putting in minimal effort, but because I don’t understand why he felt obligated to assume he needed to pay for me just because it was the “normal thing.” We were just hanging out. It took the pressure off knowing we didn’t owe each other anything.
When I first read the now-viral article, “Why Chivalry is Dead, From a Man’s Perspective,” I wasn’t sure what to think — I was confused and conflicted. I understood author John Picciuto’s point in saying that men need to step up, but his language seemed to negate every point he tried to make. He used blame by saying that women have lowered their standards and allowed men to act like jerks. He insisted that “dating is done” and everyone’s priority is to hook up and get laid.
But I still don’t think that the culture of dating and wooing and courting is necessarily dead. It changes with the times, like anything else throughout history. Sure, it used to be the norm for a man to take a woman out on a date and pay for her and pamper her. In turn, the woman was supposed to smile, look pretty, agree with everything he said and hope that he would call her the next day. This was the norm when women couldn’t get a comparable job and had to rely on her assets (both physical and otherwise) to have a successful relationship. Society has come so far from that; men are no longer the sole breadwinners and women are no longer the sole caretakers. When the roles have changed so much to be that of an equal partnership, shouldn’t the conventions?
Picciuto makes a lot of assumptions about dating and dating culture that generalize both men and women. He says if a man doesn’t wine and dine a girl upon first meeting them they must be “some douche looking to just get in her pants.” What he also does is inadvertently make it seem as though it has to be the man to make the first move, because women are the weaker sex and are their playthings.
The frustrating thing about this article is that on the face of it, it seems to be a triumph for the girl who hopes Prince Charming will come and sweep her off her feet. But the subtext is so much more demeaning. Picciuto said that women “own the cards,” as if they are keeping their lady parts under lock and key until they’re fully satisfied by a man’s efforts, as opposed to two people making decisions like that together. Picciuto even asserts that all men ultimately want is sex, which is presumptuous to say the least, and implies that if the ultimate goal is in fact sex, you might as well treat her to some flowers and chocolate beforehand. This sounds awfully contradictory from a man who insists his values are “old fashioned.” The “old fashioned” way was to wait until marriage, was it not?
Chivalry has always been considered a masculine sentiment. Women do not need to “wise up,” but maybe both sexes need to step up. The culture of chivalry can change, just as the times have, but first we need to change some standards. For example, the notion that if a girl makes the first move she is desperate or weird needs to be eliminated. Women need to realize that it is just as nerve wracking for men to approach women, and they have the same things to lose. The fear of rejection always looms, but once we get over this fear, we can combat the bigger issues, such as equality in chivalry.
I’m not just a woman. I’m a person. I work and I buy things with the money I earn, just like men do. When I’m with someone, I don’t expect him to take care of me because it’s what’s expected. I expect us to take care of each other, because that’s what being in a relationship is about.
So people say that chivalry is dead. I say, good riddance — at least to the kind of chivalry that relies on the man to make every move and the woman to be submissive to him. We can now make way for a new kind of chivalry, a 21st century kind, where women and men are equal partners in a relationship and work together to keep it that way.
A woman today doesn’t need to be treated like eye candy. She doesn’t need to be treated to every date just because she is born with two of the same chromosomes. Sure, take her out if she got a promotion, or if it’s her birthday, or just to surprise her for a night out. Just don’t be offended or emasculated when she does the same for you.
Rachel Maus is a junior cinema photography major who thinks froyo should be free anyway. Email her at rmaus1[at]ithaca.edu.