Wow, your browser makes us look bad. The Record supports web standards, which means that your browser is too old to know these. Either update your browser, or upgrade to Firefox or Google Chrome

Chivalrous vs. chauvinist

At our school, we Johnnies are taught to open doors and be all-around good guys, demonstrating “Johnnie”-like behavior. We are a chivalrous breed of well-groomed gentlemen that instinctively give up our seats to Bennies. We are also quite tolerant of pant fashions that could be mistaken for a thin layer of acrylic paint. Due to recent events, however, I am beginning to eschew the well-established cultural mores of the Johnnie order.

It began the other day when a young woman denied my offer to take my seat on the Link. Why wouldn’t the Bennie welcome my urbane offer? This Rosa Parks reversal really threw me for a loop. Couldn’t she see I am a selfless Johnnie that wanted her to be comfortable? Is she just going to stand there the whole ride in her sheep-skin boots with her spandex-clad hind in my face? I don’t think so. I insisted she take the seat as I stood up, but she still wouldn’t budge, so I sat back down, dejected.

I brushed it off as over-conscientiousness on her part, but I soon learned from a friend that this was not an isolated incident. He had recently offered his seat up to a student of the opposite sex and was met with scorn. Now I was really bowled over. Was I the issue here? Is chivalry now equivalent to chauvinism? As any First-Year Seminar or Ethics professor might say, “it’s a tough issue,” and one that probably won’t get worked out in 500 words. Nonetheless, my benevolent attempt at being a good Johnnie was perceived as sexist. The student I was so eager to accommodate was not on crutches or with child. She had two very able legs that were revealed with exquisite detail thanks to her quasi-pants.

As gender-divided campuses, there are many non-conscious biases we as Johnnies and Bennies may hold that we do not realize. There are also many gender-tethered distinctions between campuses that further the divide. Subtly affirming gender stereotypes with a pale-pink color scheme and furnished with a focus on socializing, Clemens Library is easily the worst place in the collegiate dyad of CSB/SJU. On the other hand, albeit architecturally beautiful, Alcuin is not much better, with a strong, minimalist – and I would venture to say emotionless – design. What’s more, why are there two penis-looking copper statuettes staring at me on the bottom level (maybe I read too much Freud)?

The question is: are these discrepancies so bad? Not necessarily, they give the schools their distinct character, but it is worth taking notice. As with any relationship that lasts four years, I am attached to this place we call CSB/SJU. It is part of me and has taught me many lessons – I just hope being sexist isn’t one of them.