As Giving Honor to the Weaker Vessel

February 18, 2011

I was with some people last night when one of the girls in the group set her bag down with a thump, prompting someone to remark that it must be very heavy. 

I offered to carry it for a while.  She replied, No, thank you, I’m a woman!  (Another woman in the group helpfully added, Hear me roar.)  I said, Well, sure, that’s part of why I was offering to help carry your bag.  Both women seemed to take this as fairly insulting.

It’s not that I didn’t think she could carry it—women are physically less strong than men, but obviously she was able to carry the bag on her own; she had done so to that point.  It’s that women are like ladies, like nobility—like maybe they shouldn’t have to carry a heavy bag, at least not when there’s a man on hand who could do it for them.  I think it is fitting generally for men to serve women, and to honor them.

What do you think?

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13 Responses to “As Giving Honor to the Weaker Vessel”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    Was she hot?


  2. I think the obligation or responsibility I’m suggesting applies regardless of whether the guy is interested in the girl. (I believe Joshua Harris and I are in agreement on this point.) Think of the cliché of the Boy Scout helping a little old lady across the street, if that helps.

  3. Snoodickle Says:

    I believe in the old cliche of only do things for good looking women.

  4. Ladies, let's be ladies. Says:

    “It’s that women are like ladies.” Why is that a simile?

    At lunch today, I was sitting at a table where I was the only female. A young man in a clean-cut outfit made a sexual joke about judges “banging” gavels. Later in the conversation, I lamented that a professor who had just spoken with us had chosen to sit at a different table. Someone remarked, “Well, if the professor sat here, we wouldn’t be able to joke about banging gavels.” I replied, “You shouldn’t have made that joke anyway in the company of a woman.” It went over well, because I smiled sweetly as I said it. But I thought I ought to have said “lady” because that better expresses why I don’t think men should be telling crass jokes around women.

    On the other hand, empowerment is as important for women as for men. Being on the receiving end of charity can make someone feel uncomfortable or inferior. And women may be misreading your intentions, but maybe the act of offering to carry a woman’s bag says things on its own even apart from how you intend it. There is no easy way to balance treating a woman “like a lady” and treating her as capable. But honoring her probably includes both of those.

  5. Snoodickle Says:

    Lady, you should watch Good Will Hunting, and particularly how Minnie Driver downright enjoys being around men who tell crass jokes. I think Minnie’s character is every man’s dream girl; men don’t want a woman who is going to bristle at a dirty joke.


    • I disagree, and I don’t think most other men are with you, either. Different cultures are different, but I believe it’s fairly common for there to be things men do or say around one another that are considered not fitting for mixed company.

  6. Ladies, let's be ladies. Says:

    Snoodickle,

    I don’t doubt that there are men who prefer the company of women who appreciate their crass jokes. But I’m talking about what we “ought” to do — a sortof forward-looking, hypothetical determination of moral guidelines.

    Unfortunately the world has yet to see a system of morality which supposes that “the good” is simply equated with “whatever we want to do or be.” Lots of the things we really like are thoroughly good only if we isolate them from everything else they influence. Lots of people would love to own and live in a huge mansion! Everyone’s dream home! But what kind of society would it take to ensure that everyone could own such a mansion?

    You may like crass girls, and you may only want to offer help to attractive girls. But if your preferences are taken as instructive to others (e.g., I should learn to enjoy dirty jokes and Chillingworth should only carry a bag for an attractive girl), then the consequent moral system is one in which, as Chillingworth mentions, nobody helps old ladies across the street. And one in which women behave rather like men.

    She may be a “dream girl” in that one way: that she affirms and encourages the male obsession with sexuality. But I’d argue that she sacrifices part of what it means to be a healthy female when she does so. I’m not saying healthy females are prudes and I’m not saying that women don’t like sex. But look at it from the other side. I hear some women say that the ideal man is sensitive and in touch with his emotions (and, more importantly, her emotions). I, like every girl ever, can remember wishing a boyfriend were more in touch with my emotions. But what kind of man would he be if he were emotional like a woman?

    And, over the long term, a companion whose identity is no more profound than satisfying your own superficial desires may be, ultimately and ironically, unsatisfying. Consider yet another cliche: there are girls for dating and girls for marrying. The difference between the two lies exactly at the point of this discussion. Certain girls afford only a superficial satisfaction, which is fine if you just want to have a good time at a bar and think only about yourself. But life, unfortunately, is about more than sex and hedonistic self-indulgence in things we think are fun.

    Also importantly, Good Will Hunting is a movie. A movie written and produced by men. It isn’t real life. Minnie Driver’s character is, well, a fictional character. She can be written to seem perfectly healthy and happy in a lifestyle of crass humor and casual sex. That doesn’t mean real women feel that way. And women want to please men, so a lot of us go along with that lifestyle. But the cliche about women always wanting to get married is more than a cliche, and that gives rise to my concern that your “dream girl” may not be a very healthy, happy person.

  7. Snoodickle Says:

    Awesome.

  8. godlovesgays Says:

    What about the poor old man who needs assistance?

    Mr. Chillingworth, as usual you remind me of an expensive bottle of wine. You sound like you are at least 100 years old and if I drink you I will end up with a tummy ache.

    Your comments are appalling. As a proud gay woman I will carry my own bag. You want to help me carry a bag because I am a woman? Maybe I should help you sin because you are a god lover. Or maybe I should cut off your privates because as you know men often use the wrong head when making decisions. You inability to avoid stereotyping is not surprising as your antiquated ways need to re-examined.

    -God Loves Gays

  9. praise Says:

    Godlovesgays,
    To start, god does not love gays. You WILL rot in hell. Second, women are inferior to men, hence why Mr. Chillingsworth would offer to carry a bag for this girl. She is after all just a girl. She does not possess the ability to make business decisions or do math. She is inferior just like the bible tells us. Rot in hell you bastard.

    – Praise


  10. To the reader:

    I allow both of the above comments (labeled “godlovesgays” and “praise”) to stand unedited, including the abusive language directed by one toward the other, partly because both were posted by the same person (who is neither Christian nor a woman, nor “gay”).

    Nice try, Leroy.

  11. Leroy Says:

    To everyone:

    I apologize for my abusive actions. As Chillingworth noted I am not a woman, Christian or gay. In fact I am an Islamic hermaphrodite horse. Sorry for the confusion.

    – Leroy


  12. […] Even if it had happened, that would have been one or two Tea Partiers out of millions (about 6% of the population, according to that study above).  Based on the bad behavior of a few individuals, proportionately speaking, you could much more easily say that all of America is evil or racist than that the Tea Party movement is.  It’s also important to note that liberals have made organized efforts to pose as Tea Party protesters for the express purpose of misbehaving and making the Tea Party look bad.  I don’t know any conservatives who do things like that, but even among the few liberals who comment on this blog, there’s at least one who has tried to do almost exactly that, more than once (here is just one example). […]


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