So there I was last week, standing in front of the J train doors, preparing to exit so I could lightly run down the stairs, up the street and get to my yoga class on time. As the doors opened and the cold air reintroduced itself to my face, I stepped out and headed to the staircase. I was the first person to exit the train because I meant business. Yoga just isn’t as fun when you’re doing Warrior II in the back of the class.
And out of nowhere, as I made my first step down the staircase, a man, out of nowhere, crashed into me in an attempt to get past me and out of the station. As my body (in my fly Lululemon tights) was thrown into the banister, he said “Excuse me” without looking back. Guess he meant business too.
Thinking about that situation and a few other typical scenarios I’ve witnessed in this city, I would have to make the very sad ruling that chivalry is indeed dead here. Yep. I’m slamming the gavel. Closing the book. Signing the death certificate.
While not all men here are strictly team me, myself and I here, there are quite a few who don’t have time for the ladies if they’re not trying to get their number. According to my coworker, who has been here much longer than me, “Men born here just don’t give a sh*t. The ones who do were born elsewhere, like in the South.”
And it hurts my heart. No, seriously. It hurts my heart when I give up my seat for an elderly woman or pregnant woman after waiting a few seconds to see if a man would to no avail. (I have plantar fasciitis so I’m hesitant to stand for a long time when I don’t have to.) And when I get up and have to stand, they all avoid eye contact with me because they don’t want to give me their seat, and because they know my pupils and furrowed brow will scream, “You ain’t sh*t, you ain’t never been sh*t, and you ain’t never gon’ be sh*t” in a Tupac as Bishop from Juice voice.
It hurts my heart when I sit on the train and have to squeeze my legs to the point of soreness because the guy next to me is manspreading so far you would think his junk was on fire.
It hurts my heart when a door slams back in my face as a guy thirstier than you would ever imagine for a coffee at Starbucks rushes in before me.
It hurts my heart when Brande Victorian tells me that she carried a nearly 50-pound suitcase up a flight of stairs while men looked at her and walked around her to get to the top.
And it hurts my heart when a man bum rushes me, and others, to get a seat on the train. Like the man Veronica Wells saw steal a seat from a young girl preparing to sit down with her bookbag and violin case. And when that young girl looked at him crazy for boxing her out to get the seat, he responded, “You’re young. You can stand.” Or the guy who asked my former coworker if she could get up from her seat so he could sit and continue his conversation with his girlfriend.
When I ask my male friends what the icy cold shoulder could be about ’round these parts, I’m told that it’s like a response to hardcore feminism.
“Y’all don’t know what you want. You say you want to be equal, but when we treat you equal you complain about it. Sometimes our feet hurt, and we want to sit down on the train too!”
But even if chivalry is dead to help create an even more independent woman, it still hurts my heart, because these aren’t the men I grew up seeing and grew up around. And I sometimes wonder if the less we care for one another in the most delicate ways plays into all the reasons we see folks screaming in the face of women and slapping them on WorldStar during petty arguments gone awry on the street. Just a thought.
But as I previously stated, I’m thankful for the men in this city who still hold doors (whether subway or business establishments), offer seats to the pregnant, hurt and elderly, ask if you need help with your heavy carts and luggage, make sure you make it into your front door safely before pulling off, walk on the side that has traffic, and continue to do admirable things not because they’re looking for a “Thank you!” but because it’s just the nice thing to do.
And kudos to men and women, in general, in this city who make time during their busy days to look out for and support others. To offer assistance and be giving. Because while chivalry might be on its way to the afterlife, care and consideration is still kicking and something we can all show.