I just witnessed two middle-aged geezers refusing to let a young attractive woman carry some cartons of beer. Did they hasten to take these burdens from her and carry them for her in a possibly misguided yet well-intentioned bout of chivalry?
No, they just told her where a cart was and argued forcefully every time she insisted she’d rather just carry her stuff than use the cart. They were so insistent that they created a situation in which it was impossible for her to refuse their instructions without being rude, so she went to get the cart. She then complained to me that now she had to haul her stuff conspicuously for a long distance in front of lots of people when she could’ve just carried the cartons a short distance. It took longer and made her task more annoying and embarrassing.
Those guys are most assuredly off somewhere now slapping themselves heartily on the back for being so gallant and saving the weak little female from having to carry something.
But behavior like this isn’t even about being chivalrous. This is about men making themselves feel better. They know they can’t get the time of day from this woman, so they’re forcing her to interact with them because it gets their motors going. And they may tell themselves they saved her trouble, but when adults tell you, “I’d rather do it this way”, they are speaking from experience and the only polite response is, “Oh, okay.” We’re not talking about a child who may genuinely need some instruction.
What they did was not an offer of help. It was an act of dominance, and it was repulsive and offensive. This is the sort of behavior that Nice Guys (TM) engage in, and then they get disgusted when women aren’t appreciative of being dominated in uncomfortable social situations.
Chivalry has a gendered past and is problematic, but if you remove the gendering it’s really just people trying to help each other. We are living in a century in which anyone might hold a door for anyone, or anyone might offer to help someone carry some stuff. Suggesting the cart (and then backing off when the suggestion was rejected) would have been perfectly acceptable. But forcing the cart on her against her wishes… well, you get the drift.