Texas School Ditches Plan To Humiliate Teen Girls For 'Chivalry' Lesson
Chivalry is dead. Or a school assignment about it is, anyway. Following complaints from students and their parents, students at Shallowater High School in Texas will not have to perform a completely batshit assignment in which they were meant to spend a day demonstrating "how the code of chivalry and standards set in the medieval concept of courtly love carries over into the modern day."
While boys at the school were instructed to do fairly whimsical things like "pick up things girls have dropped," wear suits and ties, open doors, call girls and women "milady," and send "coded messages" to girls they liked, the assignment was a little different for girls, and included "dressing to please" the boys in their school, cleaning up after them, walking behind them daintily ("as if their feet were bound"), never criticizing a man or demonstrating intellectual superiority to a man.
Also: "Ladies must obey any reasonable request of a male. If not sure if it is considered reasonable, ladies can check with their teachers."
An adult was meant to sign off on each one of these things so that the teens could collect points for the assignment, with each task being awarded 10 points.
The assignment was originally posted to a private Facebook group and then tweeted out publicly by journalist Brandi D. Addison of the Dallas Morning News.
Generously, one might assume that this was meant to be a lesson in why "chivalry" was bad and misogynistic — although it's Texas, so we can't be entirely sure. But even if that were the case, actually putting girls through this is not okay. It's damaging, demeaning and more than a little bit creepy. Teenage girls should not, under any circumstances, be asking adults if their outfits are pleasing to boys. What would the benefit be in any of this?
It's also just very historically and geographically inaccurate — and for the most part appears to have been written by someone who couldn't even be bothered to spend a whole day at the Ren Faire. Fingers crossed that it's not the history teacher. I would hope that history teacher would know that bound feet had nothing at all to do with chivalry in the Medieval era. "Declaring war on infidels"? Totally. Bound feet? Very much an entirely different country. Walking behind men? Not a thing either!
In fact, while there was lots of sexism at the time, obviously, chivalry was a code that men were supposed to follow, not women. Most of what I know about the medieval era comes from folk ballads, so I would assume that if they wanted to be super accurate, the girls would be out there murdering some babies or blowing a guy off while he's on his death bed and then feeling super guilty about it when he actually does die, even though she shouldn't because the guy was obviously terrible.
While you might think that this exercise would be the kind of thing
everyone could agree was bad, several people were very upset that the exercise was canceled, including this one guy who was mad because he felt it was not sexist, tweeting, "I like how you conveniently left out the fact that the men had a very similar assignment with similar tasks. Only to post the men's assignment a full 36 hours after your initial post. Way to spin this to fit your narrative and stir up the 'Cancel mob'" at Addison.
Of course, as mentioned before, the rules boys were meant to follow were not explicitly demeaning, which is what the problem was. Not that they had to do stuff.
People keep asking, so yes, here’s the assignment for the male students. You can compare them. https://t.co/sIzA8J8PIJ— Brandi D. Addison Davis 🗞 (@Brandi D. Addison Davis 🗞) 1614955810.0
Another man also tweeted at Addison about the "Cancel Mob."
What is wrong with this?! It's explicitly to show the students what it was like back in medieval times — they're not saying this is how we should live today. I'm certain the teacher would then have the kids compare and contrast to present day. It's fun. Chill out cancel mob!
It probably would be very fun ... for the boys. Funny how things seem "fun," or it seems like others should "lighten up" when you or your gender (or your race, or your sexual orientation, or your whatever) is not the one that would be having the bad time. I don't think that these fellas would really enjoy things though if the roles were switched around and boys were required to play by these "chivalrous" rules for ladies. I don't think they'd like that at all. In fact, they'd probably be screaming that the school was trying to turn their kids gay like they do when they're sobbing about drag queen story hours.
It's a very good thing that kids don't have to do this assignment, because whatever the teacher's bizarrely ahistorical intentions were, it's something that would be unnecessarily humiliating and degrading for the girls involved. They would be much better off just going to Medieval Times or listening to some lovely Joan Baez songs about medieval baby-murdering ladies.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse