Monday, November 30, 2009

The Myth of Chivalry

Ladies, let's ditch the fairy tales. In the real world, there is no room for damsels in distress. Knights in shining armor are mere characters of glossy books and Harlequin paperbacks. As we all know, Prince Charming is often the smooth operator who runs after his booty prey on modern-day balls called clubbing.

Meanwhile, ladies first is just an empty phrase; a sign that our society has not truly veered away from the rules of machismo. Privilege teaches us to be in denial. But the fact is that women and girls remain second-rate citizens subservient to the demands of the alpha male.

Haven't we thought about why sexily dressed-if not barely clad-women often serve as the main attraction in selling men's products? Think about it. Booze, cigarettes, after shave, car freshener, underpants and the list goes on – what do they have that makes the presence of a woman in their ad a must? Why do events that cater to a male audience always have to be graced by women, still, in the same outfits?

Tell me, do they portray chivalry, if not respect for the ladies?

Back in the time when knighthood was more than just an exercise of formality, women were barred from leaving the sphere of their homes. In the same era, they were being impaled, stoned to death and burned at stake not really because they turned children into cats and planted warts to whoever had wronged them. They just happened to be too sophisticated in the eyes of a society that only knew of helpless maidens and subdued wives. Chivalry, for what it's worth, was unfriendly to Cosmopolitan. Imagine what could happen to Coco Chanel if she lived in those days.

More recent events show that Esmael Mangudadatu's only mistake was when he believed that chivalry is exercised by the knights in the Maguindanaoan fiefdom. I have nothing against him, take note. It is a shame that the Maguindanao Massacre occurred in the midst of the international celebration of ending violence against women.

Our education and good fortune may have opened us doors-where men went first-and broken us some glass ceilings. However, if we refuse to see the nakedness of the truth that greets us in every TVC shown and every rape and wife beating reported, that is, if we take these things as given, then we have not really succeeded at freeing ourselves from the bondage that we have long been in.

Honestly, I would rather carry my huge bags alone, wait in queues standing and go dutch on male-initiated dates than to take such things as they are.

Chivalry remains a myth while violence against women perpetuates.

November 25 marks the anniversary of the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961).

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