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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