Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Guilty as Charged

             One more bit of damning evidence that our culture is losing its way.
Have you heard about the new attack on men who, when they behave like gentlemen are deemed to be sexists? If you haven’t, sit down and strap yourself in.
Several years ago in the early days of the current administration, I discovered I was a potential terrorist as defined by the administration because I am a military veteran. To make matters worse, I’m a combat veteran. And horrors! I’ve served in two wars! After reading the State Departments definition of a would-be terrorist, I had to conclude that I must be a terrorist. Guilty as charged.
Now I read that because I engage in gentlemanly behavior, particularly when it concerns women, I am a full-blown sexist. Again, guilty as charged. What’s a fella to do?
A recent study has determined that men who smile and appear to be overly polite are sexists. Beware the chivalrous man! He’s likely to be the brutish lecher who preys on unsuspecting women.
I know, I know – I should be taking this more seriously. But the subject of men behaving in ways that are now being defined as sexist simply because he learned to show respect toward others (read: women) at some point in his life, must now call into question his possible ulterior motives the next time he smiles at, or holds the door for a female.
My wife, Isaura, reminded me again of an incident that occurred while attending San Jose State University (SJSU) in the mid-80’s just before we met. She had an armful of books walking toward her next class. A fellow student, a male, was walking with her. He opens the door, passing through, allowing the door to close before Isaura could get through. She called to the guy chastening him for not being gentlemanly enough to hold the door for her. He replied, “The last time I held the door for a girl she hit me!” He moved on to his class leaving my wife-to-be fumbling with her load while attempting to open the door.
About the same time period, I was coming out of my apartment a half-block from the University, when a girl from my next class was walking by. I said hi and moved over to the street side of the sidewalk. She abruptly stopped, looked at me with utter disdain, and boldly asked me, “What are you doing?” I replied that a gentleman walks on the curbside of the sidewalk when walking with a lady. Proving she was no lady, she caustically declared that such actions on my part were ridiculous. She stuck her nose in the air and marched off. I chuckled to myself and proceeded to my next class.
My brother and I were raised to be polite, courteous, and showing deference toward others, both men and women. Our folks were from Texas where such manners were expected. You’ll still see that in evidence today throughout the South. Add to that my grandmother (we called her Bambi – my step father’s mother) was from the Boston. Now this woman was a lady! Bambi moved in with us when I was ten. I never once saw her in anything except a skirt and blouse with sleeves to the wrists, and a brooch pin at the collar. When it came time for dinner, she would stand by her chair and wait for one of her grandsons to properly seat her. Holding a door open, whether in your house, a building, or a car, was done without thinking. If a lady walked into the room the men in the room were expected to stand up out of respect.
This may all sound very old fashioned, but it was the way John and I were raised. I hold the door, pull out the chair, and walk on the curbside for my wife, my daughters, and my granddaughters (ages seven and six – and yes, they like it!), and any other woman I happen to be with. Usually when I’m out and a woman enters the room, or approaches the table, I will stand in greeting. If the lady doesn’t know me well, she might make a comment, such as, “You weren’t standing up for me, were you?” It is not said as a challenge, but rather with a tone that indicates she’s very pleased by the courteous acknowledgement. My reply is a smile.
So here’s what I want to say about this business of displaying proper manners. If demonstrating such behavior is going to be labeled as sexist, then this is a sad day for our American society.
The British tabloid, The Telegraph, reported, “Chivalry could indicate hidden sexism, study finds.” The study focused on 27 pairs of U.S. undergraduate men and women, observing these folks while they played a trivia game.
College students? Really? Playing a game? That’s their study group for determining manners and the attitudes of men toward women? A hormonally super-charged bunch that hasn’t a clue as to why they behave the way they do at this age. Pardon me for my loud outburst of laughter.
What would become of the gentlemanly Sir Walter Raleigh who reportedly spread his cloak over a puddle for Queen Elizabeth I? If this were today, would the good queen upbraid the gentleman for his sexist ulterior motives? Or simply say, “Thank you, Walter.”
Ladies, I do hope you will appreciate the manners of the men in your life, expecting them to demonstrate those same manners at all times. But if a man shows the wrong intentions toward you through his use of manners, coming on to you in a boorish manner, then ignore the creep. You ladies always have the last word. That word is, “No!”

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