I winced at her opening argument:
The lack of manners those women experienced made me think of Blanche and a line in the last season of The Golden Girls where she explains to a suitor: “I don’t want to be treated like your equal. No! I want to be treated much better than you.”
That should be the ideal all women strive for in life. It’s not only pregnant woman who deserve to be treated with all due deference.
The requirement for equal pay and opportunity shouldn’t spell the death of gallantry.
I don't like her definition of chivalry as women being treated better than men or as men deferring to women. And I'm not sure that you can run with a levelling philosophy in terms of social outcomes and then run with a differentiated philosophy when it comes to manners and mores. It's not easy, in other words, to drill constantly into the minds of men that women are just the same in social function and then expect the idea to flourish that women are different in personal interaction. The first ethos tends to depress the second one.
Nor does this argument help much:
AS a woman I am as capable, independent and empowered as any man, but that doesn’t mean I want to be treated like one.
I get that opening a door for a woman doesn't mean she can't do it herself, but if women bang on about how independent, capable and empowered they are, they are not exactly pushing the right buttons in switching on the male instinct toward gallantry.
However, Rita Pahani's argument does pick up later on. Most of the following I would not take issue with:
Being equals doesn’t mean we are the same. Do women truly want to be equal in every way? The simplistic equality-by-numbers approach fails to acknowledge that women, not all women but most, often have vastly different priorities from men.
Being truly equal means fighting in the front lines and being treated as an abnormal, ambitionless layabout for choosing to stay at home to raise children. As Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote in her best-selling book, Lean In: “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.” Is that really what most women want?
...I don’t consider a man opening the door, offering me his jacket if I’m cold or helping me with a heavy bag to be condescending or subjugating. It isn’t an admission that I’m inferior or superior; it’s merely an acknowledgment that we are inherently different.
...Chivalrous men are not only thoughtful but they are naturally protective; I recall Terri Irwin talking about her late husband, Steve, and how he would always walk ahead of her down a narrow spiral staircase so if she tripped, he would be there to cushion the fall.
That’s chivalry and there aren’t too many sensible women who don’t appreciate it.
Chivalry was once a matter of small gestures that signalled a man's protective instincts towards women and women's gracious acceptance of the man's gesture. It helped to create a good feeling between the sexes, and was an expression of a refined heterosexuality (which might be part of the reason why feminists disliked it so much).
At its worst, though, chivalry descended into a "defer to women as a matter of principle" attitude, which then meant that too many men were spineless in standing up to the demands of feminist women (it possibly encouraged, too, the idea that women were by nature morally superior to men, which then compromised the ability to men to lead in upholding moral standards in society).
Chivalry has to be properly focused if it is to be a positive good in society. If it makes men at all wimpy then it's going wrong and needs to be reset; if it is a happy part of the heterosexual interplay between the men and women of a society, then all strength to it.