life beyond the well…


Did Independent Women Ruin Chivalry?

Something I hear from ladies often: “I’m independent.  I don’t need a man for NOTHING.”  Hmmm…are you sure about that?

I heard it frequently when growing up: “Erin, you need to go to school, focus on your education, and be able to take care of yourself.  You don’t want to have to depend on a man for anything.”  Umm…alright?

It was even on the radio, thanks to Destiny’s Child.

There’s a value in being independent.  I enjoy the independence from my family, and being able to say, “No, I got this.”  Or being able to remind my parents during the time that we spend together that just because I’m doing something in a way that’s different from what they prefer doesn’t make it wrong.  After all, I am a fully functioning adult, whether they are present or not.

I’m digressing.

I worry that this stress on women, particularly black women being independent has ruined something that we secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy: chivalry.  I’ve heard female students proudly proclaim that they don’t need a man to do anything for them- they can open the door for themselves, they can pull out their own chair at a meal, they can put on their own coat, and they can drive themselves wherever they desire to go.  All of that is true. As a female, I DO have the ability to do those things.  In fact, I do ALL of those things for myself when I’m alone.  Yet and still, I enjoy and appreciate the chivalry of a man.

When we (women) stress our independence so much, it makes men feel as if they aren’t needed; as if they don’t have anything to bring to the table.  While it is important in any relationship for people to feel that they are needed or valued, it is especially important for men to feel this way.  It’s like it’s coded in their beings as men.

Ladies, after enough times of hearing us say, “I got this” or “I’m independent” or “I don’t need you”, he’s going to be tired of hearing it.  Then one of two things will happen: he will leave (and find someone more appreciative) or he will just stop doing (or offering to do) chivalrous things.  If he leaves, we’ll be all upset and up in arms.  If he stays, we’ll be complaining that he doesn’t do all the things he used to do…and he’ll get tired of hearing that…and he will leave.

Let me be clear.  There is NOTHING wrong with being independent.  There is a certain pride that one should feel in being able to provide for oneself and take care of one’s needs and wants.  But, we don’t need to be extra about it.  I’m sure he ALREADY knows that we got this.  It was probably one of the things that attracted him to us in the first place.

Nevertheless, the constant reminders are not necessary.  Let him be the man.  Let him lead.  Show gratitude for his desire to open the door for you, pull out your chair, pay for a meal, or help you with your coat.  Again, SHOW GRATITUDE for the things that he does.  Don’t walk around with a good man and be ungrateful.  Find creative ways to express your appreciation and reciprocate the love and affection he shows for you.  Chivalry isn’t dead unless we kill it and bury it.

Author’s Note: These are my thoughts based on experiences with students and friends, both male and female.  However the question still remains, “Did Independent Women Ruin Chivalry?”  What do YOU think?