I’ve been kicking around the idea of a post about respect for a while, but recent comments left in another post of mine have finally forced me to finish this long overdue draft.
In my post “10 Traits Everyone Should Have”, I wrote this;
Respectful – understanding that someone is important and should be treated appropriately I will probably have numerous readers tell me I’m foolish for believing so, but I think just about everyone is worthy of respect. Humans are social animals first and foremost, with very few true exceptions. Having a basic level of respect for your fellow man and woman is the grease that turns the cogs of daily interactions…without it, we would become very selfish and unpleasant indeed. Yes, a higher level of respect must be earned through word and deed, but a minimal amount of respect should be accorded to everyone.
My Childhood Lessons
It’s how I truly feel about the issue of respect, as my grandmothers raised me to be respectful and courteous to men and women alike (though especially so to anyone significantly older than me). I’m beginning to think I had a very different childhood than most people of my generation…
Adult friends of the family were not just referred to by first name, they were “aunt” Lorraine or “uncle” Emmanuel. Underage family friends you could call by first name, but when referring to them you named them as your “cousins”. Elderly adult strangers were “grandmother” or “grandfather” if you needed to get their attention.
If you reached a door first, you held it open for the person behind you, regardless of your sex. You should strive to always wear a smile, and shine it brighter for someone who looks sad. Say “please”, “thank you”, and “you’re welcome” to people you meet, especially those in the service/retail industry. If someone needs help, you should give it to them or find an authority figure capable of doing so. Stick up for people who are being bullied, even if this makes you the new target.
Everyone is deserving of basic respect, because everyone is a thinking and feeling being. You should respect other religions, beliefs, opinions, and cultures as equal to yours unless they are harmful in some way. Men and women deserve equal amounts of respect, although some (like soldiers) should be called “ma’am” or “sir” while in uniform. One cannot demand respect, it has to be given…and if a man or woman is disrespectful, they are no longer owed basic respect and must earn it back.
These are just a few of the rules I grew up with till I was 7. My grandmother and great-grandmother were wonderful people, and each day was an opportunity to learn new things and show that I took their lessons to heart. Even though they’ve both been gone for many years, I still do my best to remain the granddaughter they taught to treat everyone respectfully and kindly.
But Should I Not?
As I’ve grown older, and most especially these past 3 or so years reading blogs on the manosphere, the idea that ALL respect must be earned keeps cropping up. I read articles that seem contradictory, where men complain that women are no longer automatically respectful…but then talk about how they don’t respect women because it must be gained through merit. I see online magazines directed towards women telling them to demand respect from men, but never telling them to demand respect from other women. Others seem to equate “respect” with “chivalry”, and bemoan the fact that men no longer seem capable of respecting women, either individually or as a whole. Is respect not something that should be accorded to everyone upon meeting them?
A Telling Conversation
Take for example, this discussion that occurred between myself, a woman, and a man on a blog I used to follow:
Woman: “Women would be much better off learning how to properly submit to and respect men instead of making them feel inferior all the time.”
Me: “I disagree. Everybody is deserving of kindness, polite manners and respect, of course…and if a husband and wife agree to the Captain/First Officer model, that’s up to them. But just because I happen to have been born female doesn’t mean I should “submit” to anyone who happens to have been born male. I’m never getting married, and would never submit to or act inferior to a random man.”
Man: “Congratulations, woman. With that humble attitude, you are far more likely to attract a REAL man, and not just one of these sappy Betas that would settle for the kind of shit they’d get from Tarnishedsophia there. Women with that sour, shitty, “I ain’t havin’ no man rule over ME! I ain’t submittin’ to NOBODY!”-type attitude are the ones that end up old, fat, and alone with ten cats, wondering why no quality man ever realized what a unique “catch” they were.”
So, in other words, it’s good when women are automatically respectful to men, but if a woman doesn’t want to act submissive and wants to be respected as her own person, they have a “shitty” attitude? To be fair, I’ve seen the reverse being said on various advice sites for women but I haven’t been a part of those conversations.
Am I Missing Something?
On and on it goes in a weird circle…each sex feeling they should get more respect than they receive. And the more I read, the more it sounds like a perversion of the type of respect that my grandmothers instilled in me years ago. When did people start thinking that respect was a one-way street or that there’s a limited supply of it in the world, so only men or women are “entitled” to it? Has society as a whole forgotten that in order to receive, you must also be willing to give…that if you want basic respect you need to send it out ahead of yourself? That by demanding people give you respect, you actually prove yourself unworthy of it?
Perhaps this is yet another example of how I’m naive, or that the morals I was taught at the feet of my grandmothers is no longer viable in this brave new world. Maybe I’m stuck in an “Old World” mentality of politeness and care for others that has no place in modern-day America. Or my coworkers could be right, and I’m just too nice. Well, whatever it is, I have to say I’m not in any rush to “fix” myself. I will keep being respectful to other men and women and give them the benefit of the doubt that they deserve it until they give me a reason not to.
If anyone wants to explain or clarify what respect means to them, or who they feel is worthy of it, feel free to do so in the comments.