Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Modern Man

Sweden is known as a bastion of equality; it's a country with one of the lowest gender pay gaps and one of the highest numbers of female parliamentarians in the world. "Maternity leave" is a thing of the past, replaced by "parental leave" and fathers face a use-it-or-lose-it policy when it comes to doing their share of the time. Swedish men cook, clean and change diapers. All of this is great, and many American men could learn a thing or two from their Scandinavian counterparts when it comes to division of household labor. That said, sometimes I miss American men, and here's why:

Chivalry doesn't exist in Sweden. Don't expect to have the door held open, or you'll get hit in the face, and don't expect help up stairs with heavy luggage, because god damn it, you packed it, you can carry it. And above all, don't expect him to pay on the first date. And this is not necessarily the fault of the Strong, Silent, Nordic Type. He's afraid of getting slapped just for offering to help in this country of feminism gone awry. (Note on the above mentioned generalizations -- yes, there have been reported instances of Swedish guys holding the door, helping with luggage and paying for the first date, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule).

One of the things about living in a foreign country is that your own prejudices come to light. I realized this afternoon on the subway that I resent being the one to offer my seat to an old lady when there are three young men sitting there. In my opinion, age trumps youth, and femininity trumps masculinity. I actually appreciate a little bit of good old fashioned chivalry, and as I was reminded today, I also expect it. I don't take such overtures as oppressive or an insult to my femininity; I regard it as being polite. It's not that I can't open the door for myself, but the gesture is nice.

Just don't expect me to cook.


Anonymous Johan said...

There is still chivalry here, but when you get slapped in the face (figuratively speaking) every time you try to hold up doors, help with luggage, pay the date etc
you tend to to it less & less.

But God knows that we do try, even if it isn't appreciated by Swedish women anymore.

7:43 PM  
Blogger J. Elias said...

Well... so, did you fall in love with one of these polite types? If so, what kind of gestures did he use to win you over to the dark, rude side? Or are you currently with some non-swede, as I believe I read?

11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've run into this nonsense a few times myself. If I had more guts and less restraint, I probably would have responded like this.


3:30 AM  
Anonymous Sven Svensson said...

chivalry and feminism?
sorry, cant have both.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Red Lady said...

As long as women continue to try and be equal to men by behaving like them, this is what will happen. I've had several male friends that ask why women behave this way when they're trying to be gentlemen and exhibit the manners they were taught. I simply reply that they should never change their ways, as there are women out there that do appreciate those gestures, and frankly, I expect to be treated like a lady when out with a guy. I'm not so insecure that I can't behave like a lady that demands to be treated like one. I know perfectly well that I can open a door, I do it for myself all the time. What a lot of whining women don't understand is that they're their own reasons for not having dates. Men want to feel like real men, and treating women with respect is part of their make-up that allows them this satisfaction. Also, a sense of humor goes a long way with men.

11:04 PM  
Blogger The Hairy Swede said...

Definitely something to be said for the American spirit when it comes to chivalry!

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Emma said...

I am a lady and I like chivalry. That's why I carry stuff for my boyfriend and pay for him when we're out together. Except when he pays and carries our bags. He likes to spoil me. I like to spoil him. We spoil each other.

I guess I should be surprised to even have found myself a boyfriend with this ungrateful view on matters.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> age trumps youth, and femininity trumps masculinity

ie. young vagina trumps old penis. Stands to reason.

> I actually [EXPECT] a little bit of good old fashioned chivalry [...] Just don't expect me to cook.

I see. So your partner/ one-night-stand/ whatever isn't worthy of the same kind attention to his needs nor respect (ie. chivalry) he just extended to you. Perhaps even paid for your meal, as per your expectations. Nice set of asymmetric standards that, run with them.

So what's the difference, other than degree of cost, between a date and buying a whore?


8:20 AM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

You know what, Ian, I didn't mention economics at all, did I? I think that's to be negotiated between the individual couple. But going back to Sven Svensson's comment, I don't think feminism and chivalry are mutually exclusive. In most cases, chivalry is actually just a synonym for polite. And regarding whether or not I cook...some (those who have sampled my cooking) may tell you that I am actually looking out for their best interest when I stay out of the kitchen.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quoting F. Curiosa: "I didn't mention economics at all, did I?"

Sure you did: "And above all, don't expect [that 'modern man' of yours] to pay on the first date."

Oops. In fact, your entire lament oozes nostalgia for female entitlement of times past, when men were men, weekday breadwinners and Sunday knights of chivarly, while women stayed indoors, mended the socks, and perhaps wrote an unrequited-love novel or two in their ample spare time.

That said, you are actually confusing chivalry, a traditional set of rules of male-to-female behavior (observe the asymmetry) anchored in a belief, or social dogm, of women somehow being helpless by design (and thus extra deserving of male care/attention/feeding), with simple common manners. It is true, that, by and large, the younger Swedes (of all three sexes) know nada of the latter - whether it is a by-product of less than stellar public education, or a "dividend" of general rapid vulgarisation of public sphere, or Zeitgeist, can be debated. But do you seriously believe that that "chivalry" of yours was ever common outside of some social strata in the middle-to-upper classes and/or pages of certain type of novels?

If so... girl, you've got a lot to learn here yet, and not being met with chivalry in the subway is the least of your problems....

Quoting F. Curiosa: "regarding whether or not I cook...some (those who have sampled my cooking) may tell you that I am actually looking out for their best interest when I stay out of the kitchen."

Rrrright. Turn everything into a joke, thus changing the subject, and escaping the need to face what you really wrote: for "chivalry" read "regret over lack of modern entitlement".


8:18 PM  
Anonymous Jalal said...

So, I told me fiance about how you view things, how if there is a psychotic vehemence about equality then there should be acceptance of a lack of chivalry.

I really dont think she took it well.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Curiosa said...

Jalal, I don't think I said that if you want equality you should reject chilvary. I said that I don't think the two need to be mutually exclusive, although in the process chilvalry (understood as politeness) seems to have gotten lost. (I didn't say anything about rejecting chilvalry...I was defending it's honor).

5:32 PM  
Blogger JC said...

It is interesting. I grew up in the north where people talk fast, and holding open doors isn't common, but it isn't uncommon either. Then, I moved to North Carolina to study at college. I expierenced a mild form of culture shock. I would be walking with a guy friend, and I would be in the better position to open the door, so I would go to do it. But the guy friend (having been brought up in the south) would go for the door too, and we would both crash into each other. People spoke slower, so that you didn't interrupt a person's end of their sentence, but there was a pause where people digested what one person said and then another person would speak. After a year of being at college I went home and felt like people were so RUDE.

And now I'm studying for a semester in Sweden, and there's a whole new set of mannerisms. In NC I had to deal with one extreme, and in some ways I'm having to deal with the other extreme in Sweden.

Your post has made me think. I think I'll have to look more closely and blog about my own experiences.

As for if chivalry and feminism are mutually exclusive, I think not, although it does take a talented person to walk the line between them.

I'll be keeping an eye on your blog for future posts. Come visit sometime.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Mrs CeCrux said...

I love chivalry, though its nice to do things on your own sometimes too. I guess chivalry here and there would be a plus in this cold land we now call our home.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Radu said...

Well, chivalry sticks to old values; that includes you cooking, so how would you expect it if you don't?

9:24 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Greetings from a fellow expat and navigator of the Swedish dating scene.

I found your diatribe on dating funny, sad, and all too familiar.

I tend to avoid the typical hook-up places and opt instead for activities like rock climbing and salsa dancing. The idea is that I'm more likely to meet someone who shares at least one of my interests.

Not that this has proven to be a successful strategy, mind you. It just seems like a good idea in theory.

On the other hand, I've made lots of good friends through my liesure activities. And as you have also pointed out, friends are a good way to make connections to potential partners too.

Puss o kram,

12:04 PM  
Anonymous mackan said...

I didn't know what chivalry meant before I read this post and now having read it I still don't... But I guess it means politeness sort of, those pretty basic gestures of politeness or caring if you will. Like holding up the door and the other things you mentioned...

And then I thought to myself... How can that be? Suddenly, it became obvious - you live in Stockholm. Some people might call it the capital of Sweden but I, on the other hand, calls it by it's real name: The capital of impolite and just rude, basically, assholes. I'd hate it if that excuse for Sweden's capital was representative for the rest of the country.

I'm urging you - go to Gothenburg, Malmö or any other part of Sweden (well, maybe with an exception of Norrland, they're so quiet and weird...) , really, and you will see that in these (real) parts of Sweden people have manners, people are nice and they sure as hell hold up the door for you and pay for you at dates! Yeah! Gothenburg for capital! Seriously though... It's true, I'm not ironic.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous mack said...

oh, I forgot to mention in the beginning what I was thinking "How can that be?" about... It was of course that you didn't experience any chivalry... well, now you know...

12:17 AM  
Blogger rami a. rahman said...

Swedish women appreciate chivalry somehow, when it comes from an outsider

I think you are treading new fields of feminism with this post :)

3:07 PM  
Blogger sapphire said...

Where are Kommissarie's new posts...we miss your sharp observations. =)

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello dear
how are you ?
i am looking for a girlfriend from sweden , can you help me?
please send me mail :

1:21 PM  
Blogger God's Princess said...

I think you can blame the feminist movement for this problem. Unfortunately there is not a lot of obvious demonstrations of those good old fashioned manners as well as concern these days. And, it really disturbs me when I see young men in the prime of their youth who fail to offer their seats to an elderly man or woman! Mmmm, where is the concern for others?

6:37 AM  
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8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I visited Stockholm and Goteborg with my big stroller and baby, even the driver of the light rail car helped me get in. And that entire trip, someone would always help me, when I did not expect it! I was touched to tears by the generosity :)

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Swedish women, I have to say that in the States, I have always paid for my meals. Even when married for 8 years. The fact that I am working makes me self sufficient which I'm proud of. I don't appreciate that the check by the waiter\waitress is always placed on the guys lap while I pay half, but that may change over time I hope. As for opening doors etc, when I was with a baby, the Swedes were very nice. I think it has to do with capability - if you're having difficulty doing something someone will help, otherwise they expect you will get insulted if they intervene. It's an aspect of privacy and respect of one's individuality.. hard to explain to someone raised to be "taken care of by a man". I was raised to be proud of taking care of myself, kindof like most American men I guess... it's so bizare to think that most American women and Latin women feel insulted when the guys don't do everything for them. Women need to learn to be proud of their own self sufficiency, demand it, and most esp not feel dependent on the kindness of others.. depend on being kind to yourself!

7:04 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I have come to an understanding of the institutionalized practice of men paying for dates. Compared to men, women have fewer years during which to find a mate and have children. For this reason, in courting the woman’s time is more valuable than the man’s. From this point of view, it’s all supply and demand, and the old chivalry makes sense. I’m not saying it’s fair or just—only that it may have origins rooted in our biological differences.

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Nikos said...

I hold the door for my swedish girlfriend, do the dishes, ironing and she makes more than me

I also hold the door for older people, or help a real old woman to reach for some oranges in the supermarket. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of everyday life people are too busy to have manners

12:44 PM  
Blogger Hani Jazzar said...

haha, i just came across your site and completely agree! there's alot of elements of swedish culture, both related and unrelated to gender division that revolve around politeness.

good on ya, and keep writing what we all think! :)

4:09 PM  
Anonymous tangerine said...

heh very funny! I enjoyed reading your blog, and I agree it is a nice gesture, but you have to ask yourself have you ever held the door open for a guy or offer to help carrying heavy stuff? all i'm saying is, don't expect or demand more than you can give. to be honest, as a down-to-earth female living in sweden, I'd rather have the door hit me, and carry my own luggage, than be treated like some completely helpless, gold-digging princess type. seriously, that sort of thing looks only cute in american comedies- it doesn't work in reality, certainly not in this day and age.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

There is chivalry here? Where? I have lived in Sweden for 8.5 years and have not seen it but once in a while and then it is usually only with elderly people.

To the poster who wrote, "chivalry and feminism? Sorry can't have both." Where did you learn that nonsense? To me chivalry is not about a man stepping in to help a woman it is about having good manners, something that I don't see much of here when people cut boldly in front of others and reach across people's faces in grocery aisles. Good manners should never go out of style.

KFC, You said it best with "feminism gone awry". Best statement yet but tell that to a Swedish woman and she'll think that you are a disgrace to the female gender.

-Anna från USA

3:15 PM  
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10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Swedish but have lived in France for over 10 years. Good manners and chivalry is something that we take for granted in my family and I have never reflected over whether a Swedish woman would find this inappropriate. The French also find this normal.

Every time I come to Sweden, or meet Swedes abroad, I'm surprised how rude they are. Probably without knowing it. I usually let them know that too...

What you have to know is that Swedes in general can't stand criticism. They think that the Swedish way of life is the only way of life.


11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

feminism is a lie created originally to destroy protestant society by catholic jesuits.they concieved a secret organization called freemasonry for this purpose.why did you say americans can learn from sweeden?...instead of saying italians or spainards can learn from swedes?...because you secretly know both most of the protestant countries are in reality women ruled since they have fallen into catholic lie of feminism.Because of embracing feminism mainline protestantism is today on the decline.Even after so many protestant denominations have allowed women pastors and bishops,the catholics are yet to allow women even in the position of deacons-why?...because it was catholic jesuits who through their sub-organization originally concieved the ideology of feminism in order to weaken and destroy protestantism.You and your protestant countries are doomed for failure unless you acknowledge the fact that you have been lied by feminist ideology and purge the "cancer" called feminism from your nations.You fell into this trap because you disobeyed the commandmend of Jesus that you be as harmless as doves,yet be as clever as serpent.(it's in the being clever part you failed)...
here is the prophecy for all-catholicism and all it's creations which include feminism,communism and islam along with all other false religions will be destroyed in the soon coming WW3.After the war the true religion-the final protestant church will ecompass all mankind.The 3rd temple will be rebuilt in jerusalem and it shall be called "the house of prayer for people of all nations" exactly as Jesus predicted nearly 2000 years ago.Anilmal and other sacrifices will be offered there in the rememberance of the ultimate sacrifice ofJesus Christ on the cross,just as it symbolized the coming sacrifice of christ in the old testament period..This will remain till coming of christ ( rapture) .In rapture believers will be taken and hypocrites left behind to face great tribulation(such as never happened before or never will in the future) which will last for 7 years.In the half of this 7 year period antichrist will break his agreement with jews and put up the awful horror inthe holy temple.He will require all to have number 666 imprinted on them to buy or sell.Those who get this mark of 666 are damned for eternal hell.So anybody who happens to be in tribulation period,want salvation he/she has to die as martyrs or get the mark of christ(which only 12 tribes of israel 144,000 people wil get).

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That’s must be the most creative and colorful troll I’ve seen in this year! Wow! Props, neo!

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@anonymous-why are you afraid of facing the reality by calling me a troll?Just look at what is happening to mainline prootestantism in traditional protestant countries and you will notice a gullible people trained in their educational centres that say feminism is for the benifit of the society and other craps like women are superior to men.They also promote sexual degenerations like LGBT/BDSM.

Who is behind all this?It's clear that whoever is secretly promoting these things in the protestant society want destruction of their societies from within. If you are willing to openly analyze history catholic counter-reformation created Jesuits who inturn created a sub-organiztion called masonry(freemasonry,mason-means builder,only thing is they intend to build the false religion called catholicism at the expense of true christianity-protestantism).

It was through the efforts of secret freemasons and Jesuits at various levels of protestant society,they promoted feminism,LGBT,BDSM etc with the single aim of destroying protestantism from within.Most freemasons except those at the higher levels doesn't know they work under directive of vatican and Jesuits with the sole aim of destruction of protestantism.

visit to know more about the history of christianity(not usually taught in churches) and what is to happen in near future

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11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, one unfortunate side effect of equality is... equality.

And no, femininity does not trump masculinity. Not if we should have an equal society.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Scary Devil Monastery said...

I'd like to add my 2 cents here, being swedish myself.

Yes, Sweden is indeed a country where feminism has gone awry. Let there be no doubt about that. The historic details are trivial and pointless but suffice to say that the effort of stamping out gender inequality went quietly and completely overboard during the 1960's.

In order to combat gender inequality it was determined that you needed expertise in what that equality consisted of. And so was born the faculties dealing in "Genus science" in major swedish universities. The idea was that some form of analysis would be needed in order to build a society of true gender equality, and thus the state apparatus encouraged the creation of a new academic field meant to supply experts capable of advicing the body politic.

This did not go entirely according to the plan.

You see, in order to build an academic career you need a certain kind of passion for the subject at hand. "Ordinary" people in sweden already were rather laissez-faire about gender equality. We already were at the front end so to speak.
The people who ended up staffing the faculties meant to teach and educate about gender equality weren't so much interested in rational analysis. They were (mainly)women with axes to grind.
Thus the entire academic field became a sort of fevered think tank meant to discover every last place where gender inequality in any form still existed. Driven, i might add, by a relatively small number of fanatics.

I know girls who've tried taking classes in this field believing it to be useful for future jobs in HR and political science. They discovered that in class, any reply to any question which did not in some way shift blame on the male section of the population invited harsh criticism and ostracism for being a "willing victim of the patriarchy". Most girls i've heard of simply dropped those courses.

It sounds unreal, but it unfortunately isn't. Thanks to the remains of the tenure systems these faculties are still churning out graduates cast in the mold of professors who've gone on public record stating things which, had the target been an ethnic minority, would have fallen under "race hate" speech laws.

We've had politicians and long-tenured professors proposing a special tax for being male (since males commit rape and should pay collective fines). We've had professors going on public records stating "Men can't help themselves since they are animals".

Right now there's a political debate going on whether any sexual intercourse not covered by explicit and stated consent should by default be considered rape. Something which would require an actual signed contract to clear guilt should any party be accused by the other after the fact.

And so on et ad nauseam.
Now, i consider myself a believer in equality. In Sweden though, it's a sad fact that unless you're willing to own up and take the collective guilt for every act of male repression against women performed since the 10th century it's very easy to end up being branded.

As for get broken of that habit VERY early on.

It must be stated that most swedish women by now can't stand swedish feminists, and the harshest criticism of swedish feminism now tends to come from liberated women who think it's gone way too far.

We're just stuck with one generation's worth of "genus experts" who unfortunately took those jobs in boring commissions no one else cared about and are still churning out the "official party line" - that all men are beasts and at best should be held at tight leash and made to pay.

Part of the fallout of this certainly helps drive the current case against Julian Assange - it has to be noted that no matter the other circumstances, Swedish law historically doesn't bother to extradite people for anything less than attempted murder.

5:59 PM  
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Anonymous Edvard said...

Haha, I like the comment at the end. Common double standard (not overly serious) that women have!

5:23 PM  
Anonymous ThiT said...

Wow this article is very true! Exactly what I found and experienced after several years in Sweden. After a few dates with some typical "dum" guys who don't know how to talk or hardly talk at all during the dates, I became really disappointed and told myself not to date them anymore! I really miss the polite behaviours and being "gentlemen" of men who know how to treat women in other countries where I've been...

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't wanna offend the people of stockholm (yes I do, i'm from the west coast), but this might be more of a Stockholm thing than a Swedish thing. I always get the door held open for me, and I always do the same, for anyone who is close enough that it won't be awkward. I don't have experience with dating, but I find it 100% reasonable that both parties pays their meal on a date. I've never heard of a man getting slapped for doing something chivalrous (and I hang out in very feminist circles), but they might get an annoyed look or comment if they expect praise for doing ordinarily polite things like helping with heavy bags. Some men think those looks or comments were for doing the things in the first place, but I think very few people are offended by common politeness.

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