Thoughts on The Tudors

A shocking admission for you: I love the whole ‘you’ve offended my lady wife and thus I will draw my sword and fight you’ thing, which has just been amply demonstrated by the episode of The Tudors I’m watching mindlessly whilst room-tidying. Once I was on a train and this group was getting all shifty and insolent with us, and my companion stood up and had a look to him as if he was going to punch the lot of them straight through the window. He didn’t, thankfully, but the fact that he was going to, I don’t know, fight for my honour or something…it made me go all melty inside.

But I ought to totally disapprove of that kind of thing. I’m a big strong girl. I can fight my own battles, thanks all the same. Like I ought to disapprove when a man insists on paying for a date, or deliberately walks on the outside of the pavement to protect me from danger (‘I don’t know what danger, just…danger’), or automatically takes whatever I’m carrying and carries it for me.

Which makes me actually question the whole chivalry thing. Are these sorts of conventions polite, acceptable and necessary parts of society? Or do their roots in male chauvinism, in the belief that women are mentally, emotionally and physically inferior to or weaker than men, make these social mores rather more sinister and undesirable in the 21st century? If a guy pays for dinner, you are then obligated to him in some way – and the obvious way to pay back such an obligation is sex. Should one feel that obligation? Is going dutch, splitting the bill, unromantic and wrong, or acceptable in this day and age?

People argue back that women are physically weaker, so of course men should fetch and carry for them and put up all the shelves. One man I know even suggested that because women have ‘childbirth – and periods – eugh!’ – these social conventions are the only way man has to make up for my being born a woman. But being born a woman isn’t, or shouldn’t be, a great misfortune. And those conventions don’t actually stem from a debt men owe to us because of our being women. They come from generations upon generations of men who had to believe themselves superior to women for their world to keep on working.

I don’t know where my argument is going here. I suppose I’m asking what place chivalry has today. Oddly, I don’t think it’s entirely misplaced. I just think it should be acceptable for me to say, at a restaurant, ‘well, actually, I’ve got a job and you’re a student, I’m paying for both of us, thank you’, and for that not to be entirely embarassing to both parties in a way it somehow wouldn’t be if I was a man taking a woman out to dinner. Or, better, for me not to even have to make that speech, but for it to be obvious that I should pay for the food and him the drinks or something because I’m not actually overdrawn yet. Chivalry can, and should, work both ways. And I can put up shelves with the best of them.

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4 Comments

Filed under TV, Women

4 responses to “Thoughts on The Tudors

  1. Men like to protect, women like protecting, right?!

    I like to pay for meals or the cinema, too. I suppose its because, as you say, I can support myself thankyou very much – I’m not some needy damsel in distress. Then again it’s nice to be shown a good time and not have to shell out a bean for it!

    I’ll take the best of boths words then!

  2. Lucy

    Yep! I don’t like feeling beholden, to guys, friends, or anyone else. It’s not that I resent people buying me drinks as such, but it shouldn’t be because I’m female and they’re male – it should be because they like me and want to buy me a drink! And unless it’s really obviously inappropriate, I will try and buy them one back. In a similar vein, my dad has always taken issue with the unwritten rule ‘You shouldn’t hit a girl’ because as far as he’s concerned, you shouldn’t hit a guy either. Respect works both ways.

    And yet, when all’s said and done, it’s the little gestures – y’know, like putting his arm round you possesively when you need reassurance or giving you a hand to get up from somewhere awkward – that make you feel really special 🙂

  3. Lucy

    ^little unasked gestures, I should have said

  4. standingonthebrink

    I do like the little gestures – like I say, I did like that he was prepared to actually fight for me (although I wouldn’t’ve let him in a million years – you’re right, you should never hit a woman or a man), and the hand-holding/hand-to-get-up thing is thoughtful and, well, nice. Sometimes it feels like manners are dying out, rather than inequality per se. 😦 !

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