I was traveling with my mother the other day and she stopped to get cigarettes. Yes, keep all the lectures to a minimum. I watch the commercials too and they really make some good points. But, the fact of the matter is and nothing is ever really going to change the reality that she smokes. Anyway, I went into the store to get them for her so she wouldn't have to get out of the van.
I got into a conversation with a lady in the store and we kept our conversation walking out of the store and to our cars. She just happened to be parked beside my mother. When I stepped into the van, I handed the cigarettes over to my mother and said, “Here you go mom. "
The lady looked into the van and said to me, “That's your mother?"
"You just went into to the store for her?"
"Yeah, I do it all the time. "
"Wow, you're such a chauvinist. That's refreshing. " She said it with a smile on her face and then she looked at my mother, “You have a nice son there. " I cringed a little. I'm a grown man. Don't talk about me like I'm a five year old and you are expressing your approval. But, anyway.
Mom smiled, “I know. I raised him. "
As we were pulling out of the parking lot, my mother looked at me with a confused look on her face and said, “She just called you a chauvinistic pig. I just realized that. Man, I ought to turn this van around…"
Well, I stopped her from doing that. But, I explained what the lady meant. And then I realized that most people don't understand the difference. Chauvinist used to be a good word. It has been murdered throughout the recent years. But, it used to be the essence of a gentleman and all that a gentleman does for a lady.
Of course, it's more than that. Nicolas Chauvin was a loyal soldier in the La Grande Armee of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was excessively wounded in action and kept fighting without any regard to his own life. Napoleon awarded Chauvin with the highest honors and a pension for the rest of his life, which he actually needed since his body had been so disfigured by the war. But, post-war sentiments that first honored him as a devoted soldier soon started to ridicule him for his fanatical loyalty. La Cocarde Tricolore, a play first viewed by the public around 1830 mocked Nicolas Chauvin and portrayed the soldier as an extremist who accomplished feats far beyond the call of duty.
So, maybe it's an omen that chauvinism now has negative connotations. But, a gentleman should always be a gentleman no matter how the world tries to twist it. It's just that plenty of guys get the whole thing confused. So, try to follow me. If you get confused, I'll write slower.
A chauvinist is the kind of guy who would put his coat over the water puddle so that the lady could step on it and into the carriage. Ok, get off the floor and stop laughing! In those days, a carriage was the classy way to get around. It would pull up in front of the mansion and the guy would lead the way, opening the door of the carriage and if there was a puddle that could possibly get her feet wet, he placed his own coat over it so that she would have a place to step.
These days, I don't expect that to happen. Just tell her to walk around the puddle. But in those days, such things were necessary.
The chauvinist is the guy who holds the door open for the lady and walks her into the restaurant. He pulls her chair out and pushes it in for her so that she is comfortably seated at the table. After they've looked over the menu, he asks her what she wants to order. Then, when the waiter comes to take the order, he looks the waiter deep into the eyes and tells him exactly what the lady wants and exactly how she wants it. He pays for dinner.
That whole action is the same as the guy who takes the car to the mechanic for the lady. Because, it is a matter of fact no matter who wants to argue this point that a mechanic will see a lady coming and think, “Ok, here's where I get paid. " She tells him to get rid of the pinging noises going on in the engine and she gets a tune up, oil change, tires rotated, breaks fixed, headlight fluid filled and the whole nine yards. Oh yeah, and he takes that pinging out of the engine. $1500 later and he's done. “Come get your car. " He had his fun.
A guy goes to a mechanic and says, “Change the oxygen sensor. If you find anything else wrong with my car, give me a call and let me know. I'll tell you whether I want it done or not. " And the mechanic nods his head and says to one of his guys, “Ok, swap the oxygen sensor and get the damn car out of my garage. That lady's supposed to be coming in again today. "
It's like when I visit my mom, I know that there is going to be a list of things for me to do. I don't mind. I expect it. Change the light bulb. Yes, some things are that simple. Climb into the attic to get a box. Fix a door knob. Carry furniture to the basement and while I'm down there, check the dryer. It's taking too long to dry clothes. Then, I can sit and have a cup of coffee. If that's chauvinist, “Hi, my name's Mike. I'm a chauvinist. "
Yes, the lady can take the car to the garage perfectly fine by herself. She can order her own food and she can open her own doors. But, it's ironic that being chauvinist used to be such a classy thing. And these days, classy women will hire their entourage. They open her doors and they take care of her car for her. They order her food so she doesn't have to waste her time with such trivial matters. Ah, life's great ironies. She should just find a gentleman and she could have all that done for her for free.
But, a chauvinistic pig is far from the gentleman. He's the kind of guy that takes one look at her and says, “You are not going out looking like that. " It's ok for him to be dressed his best, but he won't tolerate all the guys pawing all over her.
He's the guy that looks at the other girl. He may even talk to the other girl. But, when he sees “his woman" smile at another guy, “Hey, who are you looking at?" He might even pick a fight with the guy, “You looking at my woman?"
A chauvinistic pig has a problem with his girlfriend going out with her friends on lady's night out, but it's ok for him to meet with the guys for a few beers. If she shows any signs that she is more intelligent than he is, he spends a great deal of energy to make her feel stupid. He'll be alright with her having a job, but he has a problem with her having a career. If he is offered a better position in another town, he'll expect her to move with him no matter what she has to drop to make it happen. But, he won't consider quitting his job so that she can take a better position in another state. Do you see the pattern?
It comes with courtesy. A chauvinist is very courteous. A chauvinistic pig isn't being courteous, he is being domineering in a twisted insecure way. A chauvinist has no fear of being outdone or outwitted. The chauvinistic pig is afraid of being outed. Awe, come on. It was a joke just waiting to happen. Anyway, the chauvinistic pig is the guy who will go at great lengths to make himself look good in everyone's eyes after someone has just showed him up in any way. It often makes him look like a bigger fool, but he doesn't realize that.
Yet, I'm not really chauvinist. I don't practice opening doors for ladies. I don't order their food. I will try to tell them what's wrong with their car. But, it's up to them to take care of it unless they ask me. And I have good reasons why.
I refuse to participate in the arguments anymore. Feminist, feminism, feminazi , I don't care. Women are trying to grow. They are trying to find a more equal position in this world. And they still have some road ahead of them. I don't want to be the guy holding anyone back or being blamed for holding anyone back. And for some reason, holding a door open for a lady is exactly that.
"What, you don't think I can get it myself?"
"Uh, sure you can. Just thought I'd be nice. "
"Well, you can go take your I'm-a-man-you're-a-woman superiority complex somewhere else cause let me tell you something MAN, I might be a woman, but I can do anything you can do and I just might be able to do it better than you. "
"Ok! Damn!. . . Get the door for Me then. One way or the other, we're trying to get in this building. "
"And don't you swear at me. I'm a lady. "
So make up your mind then. And when you do, you just let me know what you want and I'll see if that works for me.
Michael Allen is a controversial and thought provoking writer who takes in depth looks at social and political issues. Often upbeat and humorous, there is always a deeper issue to think about. A Danger to Society was the start of it all. No one has a clue where this ride will end.