Why We Need To Keep Chivalry Alive
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Look, I know we are not in medieval times. People hear the word ‘chivalry’ and ask me if I want to bring back every chivalric code of battle and weaponry and somehow revert the rest of our societal constructs back to the theocratic dark ages.
Well, it would be cool to be knighted…
But besides that, I think we are all mature and intelligent enough to understand that discussions of the New Chivalry Movement focus on the modern interpretation of the word, often associated with people showing respect and courtesy to each other on a daily basis. In the context of my articles, it is typically in the direction of men showing said courtesy towards women.
If I’m not seeing people talk about chivalry being dead, I’m seeing them talk about how it should be dead because it’s demeaning to women. To make such a statement is to push aside the notion of courtesy and suffocate the kindness of those who actually put in the effort to show it to others.
But why just show kindness to women? They ask. Why show kindness to women because they are women? Shouldn’t we show kindness to everyone?
*Sigh* Obviously, yes…yes we should. But when a gentleman shows courtesy to a lady, especially in a dating context, we have agreed as a society to refer to him as chivalrous. It is a term with a definition we all understand and many of us are proud to be associated with. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
We do it because we are men. Because many of us show our love by being providers and/or protectors – which will not change whether a woman can provide for herself or not. To strip a man of this honor is to take away his very method of showing you he loves you. Why do this? Because you can open the door for yourself? I hate to break it to you, but he already knows that. He is doing it because he wants to show you a small act of respect.
By doing this, he ensures that chivalry lives on. If even just one man continues on being chivalrous, it may be endangered, but not dead.
On life support, maybe. Endangered, definitely. But not extinct.
For example, if I thought a woman wasn’t physically capable of pulling out her own chair or opening her own door, I’d be beyond misogynistic, I’d just be a jackass.
Fortunately, this is not what chivalry is about.
Chivalry is manners. It’s a way to show respect. It’s an entire demeanor and way of living that extends far beyond opening a door for a woman. It extends to how you treat everyone in your life, including other men. Identifying as a chivalrous gentleman allows us the honor of rising above our male counterparts and being seen as one who cares more for others. Who is willing to go out of his way to help someone on the street or to take your coat at a party or to carry something heavy for you.
Not because you can’t, but because we want to.
The fundamental misinterpretation of these acts is where we butt heads with some women, particularly radical feminists fighting for their equality. Here is a newsflash: I consider myself a feminist. I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t. If I am sitting next to a woman doing the same job as me, I would damn sure hope she is getting the same paycheck as me. If I have the right to choose what I want to do with my own body, she should damn sure have that same right.
But when we are walking side by side, I am still going to open that door for her, because I want to show her that I value her as a woman. You are the CEO of a major company? Fantastic! You are a fitness competitor and physically stronger than I am? Great! Now, let me get your coat for you.
Some women will see this as patronizing, but the only thing that reflects is the fundamental misunderstanding of the intention. I have spoken to many men about this and I have never heard a single person tell me that they do these things for women because they don’t think she can do them for herself. Perhaps that is the way men thought 50 years ago, but it is no longer 50 years ago.
We can leave the chauvinism and patronizing attitude in the past but scrape the frosting off the top and bring it with us to the present. The frosting, the good stuff, is manners and courtesy.
In a society of selfish rudeness and people buried in their smart phones, to speak out against kindness towards others is a profound misuse of human energy. It is to needlessly manufacture arguments which would never need to be had if we would just accept the positive intentions people have.
The last thing I want to address is that people think just because I write about men being kind towards women, it excuses women from being kind to men. This is a statement completely void of logic or reason. It is to enter a conversation about oranges and ask why we are not discussing apples. It is because we are not discussing apples. Apples still exist and are just as important as oranges, but they are not the focus of this conversation. If you are not catching the analogy: Women have just as much of a moral obligation to be kind to men, as men have to women. But when this happens, we don’t call it chivalry.
If it is that important to have a separate name for it, we can create one together.
But to conclude about ‘oranges,’ we shouldn’t let chivalry die because it is a value that encourages men to continue being respectful towards everyone. While men should perform chivalrous acts, women also should see it for what it is – respect towards them.
So, women, try not to be offended when someone holds a door, pulls out a chair, holds the umbrella, or helps you with your coat.
Instead, be offended when a man does none of these things.
If he doesn’t respect you enough to take part in small things with you, what makes you think he will be there for the big things?
The modern woman can do it all by herself, but the modern man should always be there to help her anyway.
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Chivalry, in my opinion shows the true strength and consideration of a man. Few things are greater than those small but important actions, if you ask me.
Yes! Thanks for the great comment Dottie. My thoughts exactly. 🙂
So would you respect us women’s decision when we decline your offers to do all these things for us and just let us do these things for ourelves?
Sure, but I personally would not date a woman like that, our personality types and views on relationships just wouldn’t add up. But that’s just me.
That’s just it tho you are seeking someone you can control via those things and choose to completely dislike an entire group of individuals that are strong women, does that intimidate you to date a woman who isn’t weak and accepting of your will?
Sorry but, what? Seeking someone I can control? I can’t possibly understand how opening the door for someone or pulling out their chair is in any way controlling them whatsoever.
My last girlfriend had her master’s degree and had traveled the world, she was more educated than I am and I often admitted more intelligent and better read. She has an incredibly strong personality and has lived on her own for nearly a decade.
She needed me for nothing, but still appreciated when I did things for her.
I am sorry to say that I think you are profoundly missing the point of this entire article, as well as my stance on the issue.
I never said I DISLIKED anyone, I simply stated that a certain personality type would not match up with my own in a dating context. This is a simple concept that every single person on the planet will relate to. With some types of people, it just wouldn’t work out.
Wht I was making a point of is the fact that you use a criteria to choose who you will date based on them letting you do things like this for them and I am guessing by the sounds of it you could mesh on every other level but the second they deny your “chivalry” its a no go, which to me sounds like you want someone to accept your position over them which is where the modern “chivalry” ideals come from. Whether you like it or not, whether you intended to or not it sends a message subconsciously that in these current times where we are STILL fighting against sexism these actions will be subconsciously and perhaps unknowingly absorbs to mean that women are weaker and need men. this is the case with many classic sexist ideals that had we not had sexism in the first place wouldn’t be harmful but the sad fact is we did and still do and feeding into that even unknowingly is reprehensible. Try to be a better person and treat everyone with equal respect and don’t gender who gets what forms and you will be a better person for it, but expect women to fawn over you because you open doors for them or carry the heavy things and you are a part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Sorry Katelyn but none of your perceptions of my ideas are actually what my ideas are. Perhaps what would be best is to re-read this article and many of my others and understand that I don’t do anything to get women to ‘fawn over me’ but to show them that I value and respect them. Perhaps another important concept that you’ve missed in my articles is that I am all for female equality and consider myself a feminist. This is unrelated to opening a door or pulling out a chair. Those things are called courtesy.
It is sad to me that you see being kind to someone as having a position over them, though I feel this reflects your outlook far more than it does mine. I would never presume such a thing but the fact that being respected and valued makes you feel like someone is robbing you of your dignity is, in fact, the problem. Not my willingness to help others.
Thanks for your time. Have a great day.
Okay so simple question that should answer all of this, how would you feel if a woman was to do those chivalrous things for you?
I’d feel as though she loved and cared for me. How else would I feel? Reciprocation is essential to any successful relationship.
It is important to note that we don’t have to do the SAME things for each other to show appreciation. Men and women are different and show love in their own ways. That is nature.
Even if I knew that you don’t like it I’d keep the door open for you anyway…………..
Want to know why? Because I keep them open for children, women and men…..
It’s a part of me and I won’t change my manners because of another person…..
Reblogged this on La Vida Dolce and commented:
Wonderful article by James Michael Sama on the importance of keeping chivalry alive. I’m a huge proponent of chilvary in a man, and yes, I am a feminist ;). Being chivalrous and a gentleman has become a lost art to the younger generations nowadays; often seen as unnecessary. It’s not something only reserved for women, but demonstrates a man’s ability to show universal respect to men and women alike. But on a romantic note: ladies, why shouldn’t we expect respect and courtesy from men, wouldn’t they want the same from us?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Happy reading 🙂
I totally agree with La Vida Dolce. We should all try to be kinder/more respectful to each other.
I agree with this article whole heartedly. I consider myself a feminist, but I find nothing sexier than a man who is a gentleman. Chivalry has become a lost art to the younger generations nowadays. Being a gentleman to men and women alike shows more character about a man than his financial status, in my opinion. As a 28 year old woman, I don’t consider myself old-fashioned but there’s certain aspects of respect and romance that should not be forgotten. 🙂
i don’t see chivalry as patronizing to women at all. i see it as respectful, kind and thoughtful. of course i can open a door myself or pull out my chair, but it shows that a guy really cares about you when he does these things. and feeling cared for feels great!
First—let me express how absurd that ideal is. I am certainly NOT a weak woman by any stretch yet I would if given the opportunity relish in the knowledge that MY MAN cherished me so deeply that he wanted NO HE NEEDED to be this way with me. Because by HIM being A MAN (my thoughts on what a man should actually be) he allows me to be A WOMAN. I am a single mother and have been for a very long time. I would love nothing more than for a man (aka MY MAN) to allow me to just BE A WOMAN –to be utterly feminine. That has absolutely NOTHING to do with being weak or controlled and everything to do being respected and adored.
Secondly—By my welcoming his chivalrous character I in turn respect and trust him enough to be the MAN he needs to be. So in essence I am completely supporting his individuality as a man and as my partner. Both of which are vital to having and maintaining a healthy relationship.
No offense intended, but – find another word for it. In the long run, all this article is is a long involved rationalization for a sentimental attachment to an anachronistic concept. if you have to work so hard to make your word palatable in a modern context, maybe it’s time to abandon it in favor of something else? The take away I get here is that if only those women were educated as to what the chivalrous men really mean, rather than what they wrongly perceive, it would all be fine. And that doesn’t seem the least bit patronizing? And the heavy sighs of that long-suffering misunderstood would-be gentleman? I don’t get slapped down for walking on the street side of a woman, or opening a door or pulling out a chair. But then, I’m not defensive about it, either, and if a date objects on any grounds then I don’t consider it’s her fault, either. If she doesn’t “get it” then maybe there’s a reason for that based on the real world that women have to live in that I don’t.
I seriouly wonder if this young women has ever had an actual conversation with James? Highly doubtful, as she would see how James is a genuine, kind, encouraging gentleman who supports a women to not only empower herself but to also encourage others around her. He encourages society to bring back many of the lost manners, etiquette and respect that is lacking with this generation while encouraging women not to settle for men treating us poorly or accepting the hook up society. She challenges him with if a girl did that for you… Would she give up her chair on a crowed t for an elderly man or open a door for a mother struggling to carry an infant in one arm and a toddler. These are simple but acts of kindness. Any one can practice chivalry.
It amazes me that people are offended by something that’s basically human. If a man is coming through a door w hands full, I’d hold it open the same way I would any other person. I know that a woman who could not physically pull out a chair wouldn’t be chastised or judged because a man did it for her. I’m not sure why this is frowned upon with a physically able bodied woman. I also find it humorous that if Mr. Sama said he didn’t want to date a person of a certain race or height, people wouldn’t blink an eye, however, some of his “followers” are ready to stone him because he prefers to date women who prefer to be catered to in a specific manner.
As you are a younger gentleman, I am so appreciative of the things you share. I am in my mid-40s and LOVE when a man treats me like a lady. I am strong, independent and can do for myself BUT, I love to be considered first. I do things that I think a man appreciates in a woman and want my man to do things that I appreciate. That makes a good team…a good foundation. There is nothing offensive about a man opening the door (but there is something offensive about him streaming past to get in the door I am opening because he perceives his destination as more important than mine). It is bothersome that women have forgotten how to be women while you are trying to teach men how to be men. I hope I taught my sons well with this respect.
I’ve been following James and his New Chivalry Movement for a while now and couldn’t agree more with him. The idea that catering to a woman (or anyone) by opening a door, offering your jacket, or walking on the proper side of the street is somehow disrespectful is absurd. If a woman were to be offended by any of those actions, I would think she is more concerned about “proving herself capable” then being comfortable in her own skin. Chivalry is a dying trend and James is trying to change that. Kudos to him.
Thanks so much Peter, needless to say I completely agree!
Poor Katelyn. It makes for an unhappy life to walk around thinking everyone is condescending to you or trying to control you all the time, when most people want to just be NICE. Feminism is about treating women as equals, but that does not mean forsaking manners to do so! A man being a gentleman shows respect and caring for a woman, and if anything it’s the opposite of repression. It’s like putting a woman on a pedestal. Thank you to those that do. It means a lot to us women that have not lost our desire to actually be feminine. I try to return the favor as well by being a gentlewoman! You are right on James, if I were dating someone and they were not a gentleman, we just wouldn’t be on the same page and it would not make for lasting happiness. Why waste time with someone that doesn’t treat you the way you feel the need to be treated…on either side?
Unfortunately these day people are too eager to respond with their heads clouded. They don’t take the time to think things through before they post. Keep up the good work i love your site.
I have amd always will be a gentleman and mynlady loves me and appreciates me for that. There is nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward, and treating a partner with love and respect.
Some women will never get “it”, time to move on and be the gentleman for those that do. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
When I was in my early twenties I needed to do everything for myself. It DID feel like control if a man acted chivalrous towards me. Therefore I attracted exactly what I put out there; namely controlling impolite men who expected me to do everything myself. I wrapped it all up and called it “feminism”. Then I became a victim to my desires, I had no understanding of Universal Law or my own psyche. Today I appreciate a true gentleman. I may even stop at a door, allowing the opportunity for it to be opened for me! It’s life, we are each on a journey and if we are receptive we will change many times in the process! I love your blogs, keep up the good works! You never know who may remember something you suggested twenty years from now! Namaste
i understand some of what Katelyn is saying James. Not so much about your point or the article but that some people youse kindness to be manipulative. They say the right things and do nice things not out of the kindness of their heart but to get a prescribed reaction. When they don’t get that reaction they wanted, they become distant or disinterested. I don’t think this is what you meant though. I’m going to be a gentleman no matter what. Even when I’m mad I don’t call a woman out of her name. It’s hard and sometimes some people say some people have it coming but I made a choice to be the man I wanted my daughter with. I want to look her in the eyes and say with complete truth and confidence, “your mother and I didn’t work out but I have and never will disrespect her”. This is regardless of what she has done or said. That’s the man I want my daughter with. Someone strong enough to be a gentleman when being a gentleman gets you nowhere because that’s WHO YOU ARE…
Wow! Phenomenal as always! Last year I dated a man who called me “conveniently traditional”, because I was a modern woman but I still enjoyed a man being chivalrous and I felt like maybe I had things all wrong. Needless to say, we didn’t last long. My very chivalrous boyfriend that I’ve been with for 17 months now (the first year just friends..building a strong foundation:) ), he IS just perfect…he enjoys me, being me..he opens doors, is never comfy if I want to spend money on us, he helps me with so much AND I appreciate him SO much!! In fact, the first time we met, we were at a local restaurant/bar with live music outside and as the night went on, I was getting kind of cold. Do you know how many men came up to me that night and spoke to me and none offered me their coat? My now boyfriend, came up to me and we introduced ourselves and he noticed I was cold, he said “I have a coat in my truck, do you want me to get it for you ?”. I told him no, because I didn’t want to put him to any trouble and next thing I know, he disappears and comes back with his coat!! He let me wear it home! Well, guess who got my attention that night??? Here we are nearly 18 months later and we couldn’t be happier and I couldn’t love and care about him more!!
What Michelle said was on point! Love me a woman who respects the idea that I want to do all of those things because its engrained in me, not because I want a desired reaction .
Came across this article and needless to say it was a wonderful read. Thank you James. As a women I was raised in a family that held onto old traditional values. I was raised with high expectations of men and finding a chivalrous gentleman these days is hard to come across. Where can these men be found? I would love an answer to this question.
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