A gentleman is not sexist.
From what I’ve found, there are two basic forms of sexism: hostile and benevolence. Hostile sexism is anger, resentment, or control of women. The idea of benevolent sexism was introduced in 1996, and according to Huffington Post refers to “a paternalistic attitude towards women that idealizes them affectionately.” Keep in mind, it’s an attitude, not an action. Gentlemanly thoughts differ from misogynistic thoughts.
This may be confusing to women who are offended when a man opens the door for them. Is he a gentleman or is he sexist? There is a difference. From a study on sexism, “Nonverbal behaviors are not by definition sexist but can be sexist.” Once again, nonverbal behavior is sexist by intent or thought.
There’s a lot of misplaced judgement on gentleman and chivalry. Continue to be gentlemanly my friends. Keep the right mindset. Just to clear the air, let’s look at the intent and thought process of a misogynistic man compared to a gentleman. My mom taught me a good rule of thumb…assume the best in people first, unless they are running at you with a machete.
On opening the door for a lady
Misogynist: “I will open this door for you because you are female, and your limbs are frail, and you haven’t built enough muscle to counteract the resistance of the door.”
Gentleman: “I’m opening the door for you because I’m a respectable man. As it turns out, I open the door for everyone.”
On paying for dinner on the first date
Misogynist: “I’m paying for dinner because I expect something in return…and it starts with the letter ‘s’.”
Gentleman: “I’m paying for dinner because it’s courtesy to pay for dinner anytime I invite a guest to join me. This is also why I’m successful in business.”
On giving her his jacket when it’s cold
Misogynist: “I’ll give her my jacket because she forgot to bring one. Always forgetful. Typical of a woman.”
Gentleman: “She’s cold so I will give her my jacket to wear. It’s the polite thing to do.”
On helping put her luggage in an overhead bin
Misogynist: “She’s a woman and doesn’t understand men like to pick things up and put things down.”
Gentleman: “I will ask her if she would like my help. If she doesn’t want it, I’m not offended.”
On waiting to sit after she sits
Misogynist: “Why would I wait? Woman, bring me my food!”
Gentleman: “As a host, I wait until any guest has been seated before I sit. It’s common etiquette.”
On walking on the outside of the sidewalk (closest to street)
Misogynist: “I walk closest to the street so I can check out other women driving by.”
Gentleman: “I walk closest to the street to protect her from traffic and splashing puddles, and according to feminists, ‘There is nothing sexist about cherishing or protecting another person.’”
With the right attitude behind gentlemanly actions, not one is slightly sexist. It would do well for both men and many feminist extremists to research and understand what attitudes are sexist and what are not before tossing around terminology. Benevolent sexism is an attitude, not an action.
While many male advocate writers blame feminists for the decline in masculinity and chivalry, we have no one to blame but ourselves. If anything, we should be strong in ourselves, and welcome women in leadership roles. Be secure in your identity, and continue doing the right thing despite criticism from others.