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What Happened to Chivalry?

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I have a question for all the men out there:

What happened to chivalry?

Maybe it’s just me, but I have yet to find a guy who implements the level of chivalry that would easily be classified as appropriate and acceptable in today’s society. I don’t expect any guy to take off his jacket and cover a puddle so I can walk over it without getting wet, but what I do expect is to be treated like a lady.

What do I mean by this? Here are my top 5 picks for doable, chivalrous acts in today’s society:

  • Open the car door for me
  • If I’m cold, offer me your jacket
  • If I am carrying something heavy, carry it for me
  • Hold doors open for me
  • Help me with my chair when we sit down at a table

Why it is virtually impossible to find a guy who implements all these acts is really confusing to me. The only explanation I can come up with is our culture.

We see it on TV and in the movies all the time, guys who just don’t quite get it. Guys who don’t hold doors open for women, guys who watch women struggling to carry heavy things but continue to sit on the couch and watch the game, guys who fail to offer girls their jackets if it is cold out. It is like our culture has made it acceptable to bypass basic acts of chivalry and has created a breed of man that lacks the ability to treat a lady like a lady. So much for sweeping women off their feet.

I’m sure there are men that will read this article and say “Chivalry is dead. Get over it. Women wanted to be treated as equals, they got what they wanted, now deal with the consequences.” My response? “If you want me to treat you like a respectable man, start acting like a gentleman and treat me with the respect a woman deserves. Would you be happy if I stopped cooking or going out of my way to do nice things for you? I doubt it, so you can be darn sure I am not happy if you stop acting like a gentleman.”

Granted not all men are like this. I am sure there are more than a few who are trying to single handedly keep chivalry alive, and I’m sure a few of these guys take it to an unbelievably impressive level by not only doing things that would be and should be deemed as normal in today’s society, but stepping it up by standing up when a woman is arriving/leaving the table or always offering to drive if taking a woman on a date. To the men that do these things, please keep it up.

And to the men who don’t have a chivalrous bone in their body, consider changing your mindset. Guaranteed if you do, you will have women lining up to meet you.

Women, what are your opinions on the lack of chivalry today? And men, do you implement chivalry? Why or why not?

 

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About alohaitsaj

  • http://viclana.blogspot.com/ Victor Lana

    Well, everyone has a different take on this one, Ashley. Growing up I was “taught” to do these kinds of things by my mother and grandmother. My father taught me that women were to be always treated with respect. I got it from both the male and female sides in my life.

  • http://blog.greensherpa.com alohaitsaj

    Victor, I am glad to hear you were raised to be chivalrous. Maybe it’s just my age group, but it is hard to find guys my age who know how to treat women with respect.

  • zingzing

    i do follow the simple requests of chivalry, but i have come to question some of them… sure, carrying something heavy or helping a lady stay warm by freezing your ass off is all good, but do women really have that much trouble with doors and chairs? no, they don’t. so, while i’ll continue to do these things, i’ll continue to wonder what it all means. it’s funny how they become very adept with manipulating doors and such when they’re pissed off.

    also, i will fight dragons for your honor, wherever they be.

  • Scotty2

    I do all of this stuff and have done since I was quite young. So chivalry’s not dead, but I hardly see it among my age group (I’m 19). And that’s unfortunate.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    So Women fight to be viewed as equals which is not only a just fight but one they shouldn’t have to fight…We are all equal! Yet, at the same time, Women want this special treatment, in which I agree with zing, with actions that are losing their meaning. Unless, you are talking about being courteous. In that case, then those actions can be displayed by both sexes. Seriously, imho, Women who want this kind of treatment don’t want to be viewed as equals. They want someone to take care of them and I feel that goes against the work that a lot of Women have done in the name of equality.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    zing, brian – you seem intent on deflating the idea of gesture as an act devoid of any meaning. Courtesy is the general term applicable to all humans, and it has to do with form, with acting in a civil and polite manner. Chivalry is gender specific. Both, however, are of medieval origin (courtesy derives from “court,” of course.)

    What I fail to understand, though, is why a gesture should have anything to do with, or impact, gender equality. Are you suggesting perhaps that’s the sticker price that comes with gender equality?

  • zingzing

    well, i certainly didn’t bring up the gender equality thing. there are certainly many double standards that still exist, and the genders really don’t have true equality in a lot of ways. so women can still have chivalry in my books. i also still cannot slug the shit out of one, which i’m fine with, although the powerless one feels when one is slugged by a woman still stings.

    all i was saying is that the gesture (particularly the car door and chair things) actually belittles women in a way. but the idea is ingrained, i guess. of course it doesn’t mean they can’t open doors or sit down without some help, but… well, what does it mean? i’ll do it because i’m supposed to and i’ll do it to be nice, but i have no clue where that shit started.

    others, like waiting for a woman to be seated (whether you help her or not) before you seat yourself, seem just as meaningless, but i have no problem, real or imagined. dunno why that one doesn’t bother me in the least.

    and yet other “chivalrous” acts, such as standing when a lady enters the room would, in most circumstances, be viewed as strange these days.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    When my husband and I first dated, it was the sixties and women were trying to even the field…I bought him drinks and whoever got to the door first, opened it for the other.

    that’s the way it was

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    ” . . .but i have no clue where that shit started.”

    Sure you do, in the Middle Ages, chivalry derives from chevalier, the horseman, the medieval knight. And so does “courtship,” a romantic attachment a knight was expected to cultivate with his chosen lady.

  • zingzing

    i was being a little more specific than that, i suppose. i can certainly understand a man helping a fair maiden down from a horse, but out of a car? come on. unless you’re pregnant or lame, that one’s just a bit strange. it’s nice and it’s polite and yadda yadda yadda, but if a perfectly able-bodied woman expects that out of me, well, i like a more independent type. it’s special occasion chivalry.

    also, i’d bet the ideas of chivalry go back much further than the middle ages, even if they hadn’t been codified and celebrated as such.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The Tristan and Isolde myth is oftentimes cited as one of the first to address the idea of romantic love; chivalry is part of that.

    Anyway, talk to you later. Movie time.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “What I fail to understand, though, is why a gesture should have anything to do with, or impact, gender equality.”

    Well, because chivalry is gender specific. So, how does that not impact or affect gender equality. It’s lopsided.
    And, it depends on the woman that you’re trying to be “chivalrous” to. I’ve had experiences where some women I’ve met thought that asking to help them carry a heavy load was insulting. Like, they couldn’t do it themselves. I can see their point. Maybe, chivalry started from the idea that opening a door or moving a chair was beneath their status. I mean, society has had some strange ideas wrapped around public behaviors and such(table manners,etc).

    As for being courteous, it’s a gesture that is made by choice NOT by ingrained programming. If you wanna do something silly then by all means. Just don’t act all insulted when I choose not to practice those behaviors…

  • Arch Conservative

    I don’t know about you Ashley but in my marriage as well as many others out there chivalry is alive and well.

    I hold the door for my wife, lift heavy packages and cook my own damn food.

    I think we’re able to maintain chivalry because my wife didn’t go to Smith, Vassar or one of the other muff diving schools we’re the jihad to slay chivalry and all signs of traditional masuclinity is in full force so she can appreciate it. I on the other hand, am not some emascualted, politically correct, metrosexual liberal sissy boy. It works out well that way.

    Despite it being 2010 I think most people would generally prefer to subscribe to the traditional gender roles of men as provider/protector, women as homemaker/nurterer than the views of a feminzai like Andrea Dworkin who believes “all sex is rape.”

  • Benjamin

    What happened to chivalry?! Easy – feminism. Ya’ll changed the rules, you made it so we don’t know our up from our down. When I get told that treating someone like a “lady” is a form of sexism, fuck-it, I quit.

  • Benjamin

    Arch,

    Being a liberal has nothing to do with this [personal attack deleted]. I’m a liberal and still believe in holding doors, changing the oil and all that shit. Fuck man, seperate your politics from your sac huh?!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Who acted insulted, Brian. You’re imagining things.

  • http://blog.greensherpa.com alohaitsaj

    Whoa, let’s tone it down Benjamin. There is a lady present! 😉

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Arch –

    I agree that you need to separate politics from your testosterone. I am quite chivalrous and I’ve made sure to teach this value to my sons who open doors, carry all the heavy stuff, stand ready to defend, and never EVER raise a hand to a woman. My oldest son made that mistake once – and only once.

    Frankly, if you want to see a political difference, see which party supports equality for women, and which party does NOT (you can Google Lily Ledbetter to help you find the answer).

  • Benjamin

    Holy crap! I got my first personal attack deleted! Well it only took me a few years to actually getting to it so….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ben –

    I normally don’t go into the language I used back in my Navy days, but one of the best I heard was “one-eyed purple yogurt slinger”.

  • Benjamin

    I will always be a Marine at heart and in mouth.

  • Benjamin

    Glen – awesome!

  • zingzing

    that is disgusting, glenn. disgusting and lovely.

    and archie, don’t bring politics into everything. and smith is a woman’s school, isn’t it? you couldn’t have gone there anyway. i’ve been on that campus many times and i’ve held the door for them, and they seemed to appreciate it as much as anyone else.

  • http://snallabolaget.com Sommerfeldt

    Chivalry. I like Roger’s word up there in the first comments better – “courtesy”. I cook, I do laundry, I clean the place up on my own. I don’t have to have a woman do it for me, and I don’t expect the little lady I call my woman (actually, I usually call her “babycakes”, but for the sake of argument…) to do all those things for me either.

    What you speak of as “chivalry” might be dead, but women have no one to blame but themselves. Feminism did actually kill it. I vividly remember opening a door for a woman I did not know in NYC a couple of years back, only to be thanked with a “f-you, sexist” in return.

    I’ll offer my jacket to a lady, and I’ll open doors still, but if this is a requisite for you (article writer) before treating a man with respect, then I see clearly why you think it’s lacking in your life.
    Respect has nothing to do with chivalry – respect has to be earned, be mutual and be consistent unless the other person does something that robs them of the privilege. The lack of taking on the role as your servant does not count as a reason here, just to be clear.

    Chivalry. I say kill it, if it’s still moving around. Grow mutual respect and courtesy instead.

  • djc

    “Chivalry is dead. Get over it. Women wanted to be treated as equals, they got what they wanted, now deal with the consequences.”

    By golly, you answered your own question.

  • Arch Conservative

    I didn’t mean to infuse too much of the political into this subject but it does seem that chivalry tends to be a concept based in conservative values which stem from traditional views of gender and family.

    I often hear liberals saying the good old days weren’t that good because they were awfully repressive but you’re a liberal Glenn and admit to an appreciation for chivalry so maybe the key is that when we wax nostalgic we only remember fondly the good things such as when men would hold doors and offer their coats but not the bad things such as when they’d tell a woman she didn’t have the right to the same job and pay as a man.

    I do think that over the years men have lost a good degree of masculinity and society in general has infantilized it’s citizens.

    The Greatest Generation grit their teeth and stuck it out through the Great Depression and then helped to beat back the Nazis and European fascism. Compare and contrast that with what the American population has grown to become today, an overweight collection of politically moochers looking for the next government handout while bitching about every last thing.

  • Baronius

    Heavy lifting, opening doors of buildings, and giving up my jacket, I’m fine with. I also don’t burp loudly and try not to stare at boobs. But I never picked up the habit of opening a car door for a woman, or pulling out a chair.

    It’s nothing personal. I’m not failing to open a car door because I don’t respect a woman, or because I don’t respect women. And I resent it when someone takes it as an insult. It just seems petty.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I sort of agree with you, Arch, but I think it’s the other way round. Conservatives respect the idea of chivalry because it’s part of the set of traditional values; they didn’t invent it. (Conservatives, by definition, don’t invent much.)

    My own view of chivalry is: who’s it hurting? Most women appreciate a chivalrous gesture (I’ve gathered), and it does give most guys a kick to get a smile out of, say, a female stranger when he holds a door open for her.

    That said, I’ll happily hold a door open for a guy as well, particularly if it opens on the side I happen to be on so I can hold it and not be in his way.

    It’s just polite. Plus, it’s fun to watch some burly dude try to regain the initiative by grabbing the door so he doesn’t look like a pansy.

    :-)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Pretty sensible post, Archie. Of course we’ve been spoiled.

    Don’t forget though the reasons. The American working class, having come “of age,” has been doing quite good since the war ended and for three decades right after – in fact, better than anywhere else in the world. The corporations played “good citizens” and the workers benefited in terms of rising wages, higher standard of living, pensions, vacations, and yes – health insurance. The productive was rising, America was the industrial giants among the giants, so the working class had earned its stripes.

    But then, in the seventies and thereafter, it all stopped. There were many reasons I shan’t go into it now. The bottom line is, corporations realized their power, the power to control the economy, to screw the American worker, to ship manufacturing jobs overseas, while the government not only kept watching but was complicit in fact. So yes, of course we got “softer” but as I say, we’ve earned our stripes.

    So it’s unfair of you to expect we go back to the twenties and do it all over again. We’ve already done it and gone that route. Don’t forget therefore where the blame lies.

    Anyway, all civilizations and cultures have their beginnings, the middle, and their end. A Golden Age never lasts forever, as history attests. Once you reach your peak, you inevitably experience a decline. And I’m afraid, we’re going through this phase. Perhaps it’s too late to reverse it.

  • Curiepoint

    What happened to chivalry?

    Well, for four decades, men have had to bear the burden of being considered power-hungry, oppressive fascists. Regardless of what kind of men we were, it was the label was born by all of us.

    Everywhere I turn, I see women behaving like pernicious cretins. They drink like fish, party it up like pre-adolescent children, sleep around like common prostitutes…all in the name of “Grrrl Power” or some nonsensical sense of being empowered. Don’t believe me? Watch any TV show in prime time. Read the rants of Maureen Dowd or Susan Estrich. Then, come back and complain that there aren’t any “gentlemen” out there to cater to your sense of entitlement.

    This article is great at defining what a gentlemen is. I would suggest that you describe how average women today can dare call themselves ladies.

  • Arch Conservative

    Good points Curie.

    The worst is when people insist that if women were in all the positions of power instead of men we’d have world peace and harmony.

    HAH!

    I’ll say it again.

    HAH!

    Women and men are not so different when push comes to shove. Women can be just, as greedy, ambitious, insensitive, ugly and callous as men.

  • Bill

    I’ve seen a lot of these articles in recent years.

    The thing about chivalry is that it’s predicated on the inherent value and quality of the woman toward whom it is directed. It used to be that women were generally thought to be chaste, good, morally pure and virtuous, so a man was expected to treat “ladies” with the deference they were held to deserve.

    Today, if popular culture is any indication, women take pride in being aggressive, promiscuous, violent and mercenary. Additionally, their role has switched from that of helpmeet to competitor, and they often appear to take pleasure in dominating men in one manner or another.

    When confronted with such an individual, the natural response is not deference, but rather guarded caution or active avoidance.

    Finally, women don’t care for guys who suck up to them. They are usually most interested in aloof types who barely acknowledge their presence (signals higher mate value).

  • Jordan Richardson

    women take pride in being aggressive, promiscuous, violent and mercenary.

    I must be hanging out in the wrong places.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Also, “helpmeet?” Your own personal Eve, Bill?

    Can’t imagine why the women you run into might be “violent mercenaries,” ya jackass.

  • Baronius

    Bill, I don’t think that women were thought to be perfect ladies, but the assumption was that you’d treat a woman like she was. Likewise, until a guy proved he was a jerk, you’d treat him like a gentleman. That element of initial respect doesn’t have to be tied to any particular habit of pulling out a chair or opening a door.

  • Bill

    Baronius, contemporary Americans have a simple-minded understanding of chivalry.

    Understanding medieval etiquette and putting it in its proper perspective is probably too much to ask of your typical modern, who might, for example, think that chivalry consists of taking the woman’s side in an online discussion.

    The only American culture in which chivalry ever had any relevance at all was the antebellum South, where planters developed a pseudo-aristocratic culture with a very heavy emphasis on honor.

    It is essentially a martial code of conduct — the way of the warrior for the medieval Christian knight. Yes, courtly love was involved, and knights would often hack and stab their victims to death in the name of their lady, but the female was usually little more than a totem; an untouchable vessel of purity and goodness he could exalt in his excited imagination after having his way with the unfortunate women and girls he’d encounter following a victorious campaign.

    In a similar manner, the Southern aristocrat would have his way with slave girls, and court the virginal planters’ daughters, whose virtue he guarded “on his honor.” Needless to say, in those days chivalry and protecting women’s honor led to frequent duels and lynchings.

    I suppose it’s encouraging to see that chivalry’s expression today is so weak and ineffectual that it essentially consists of boys calling people “jackass” online, but I think even women might want to rethink whether they actually like the idea. Women in highly chivalric cultures faced very heavy sexual and behavioral restraints, which was pretty much my original point. In other words, chivalry simply can’t work in a “liberated” environment, because the women cannot live up to the ideal that provides the motive and justification for chivalrous behavior on the part of men.

  • Brendan

    Chivalry is only justified where there are more traditional sex roles. It isn’t a free lunch — the quid pro quo for chivalry is the general social acceptance of male leadership, and concommitant social restraints on women. That “justifies” chivalry, because women are in a weaker social position.

    However, our current model of sex relations is based on equality. In an equalist model, chivalry has no justification.

    Women of the second wave feminist generation understood this, and scoffed at chivalry, recognizing that it was a sign of their inferior social status. Now, a younger generation of women, having been the beneficiaries of the social leveling between men and women that has taken place in the last four decades, want the “old” benefits back, without the price tag attached to them. In other words, they want the best of both worlds: the benefits of equalism, and the benefits of chivalry. But you can’t have it both ways, ladies. Chivalry no longer has any basis in the social order — we’re all equalists now, and we treat each other equally, and that’s that — and it’s something that is the complete opposite of chivalry.

    I understand quite well why this doesn’t sit well with some younger women — if I were in their shoes, I’d also be whining about not getting to have my cake and eat it too. But that’s life.

  • Clarence

    I don’t know about you all, but any woman that punches me is going flat on her ass.

    As for “chivalry” extend it to your wife, mother, sister , or girlfriend, but otherwise either extend it to weaker people of both sexes or drop it.

  • http://www.sugarfilledemotions.com Melissa Mashburn

    Where I live, we call these types of behaviors, good manners. The only thing my husband does not do is hold the chair out for me when I sit. However, he does bunches of other things, like always makes sure I have the better vehicle to drive, does dishes without asking, and asks before he uses power tools in the house. I can live without the chair thing so he does so many other things.

  • Wonderwhywomendon’tgetit

    I will TELL you why. Chivalry is dead because WOMEN want it so. When women STOP dating jerks, then it will come back. When women stop thinking a nice guy could be a stalker or creepy, those gestures and natural kindness will come back. Guys now have to play games because girls have POPULARIZED the jerk. Plain and simple.

  • Lisa

    I just love when a man says, “You women wanted equality so deal with it.” What I would like to know is who are “You women?” I was not even old enough to be part of the feminist movement but yet get blamed for the whole thing. I didn’t ask for any of it. Do I want the same pay for doing the same job as a man? Of course I do, it is the same job. I did not, however, ask to be treated with disrespect. I treat men with the respect they deserve and I expect the same treatment in return. I think it shows common courtesy when a man acts in a chivalrous manner. I don’t see it happen very often but when I do you can bet I accept the courtesy with a big friendly smile and a huge thank you!

  • That 14 Y.O. Gent

    Chivalry isn’t dead, It’s only a matter of time for a man to bring chivalry back to life. :)
    Every woman can hope for true love :)

  • Britt

    I know that there will never be a perfect equality in between both genders because honestly if a woman were treated the way a guy were 24/7, most wouldn’t enjoy it too much. There might be some women who overreact to courtesy and take it as sexism but please don’t stop acting like a gentleman toward ALL women! There are definitely women who take kind gestures such as those in a positive light :) I know I definitely appreciate when a guy goes the extra mile to make me feel so special.

  • David Meijer

    As a 19 year old young man, the problem does not always lie with us not being chivalrous. I open doors, treat people equally and with respect, give my jacket to my date/companion/friend if they are cold, and even share an umbrella with a stranger (i live in a very rainy city) if they dont carry one. The problem is that people, for some reason, judge you when doing this. i remember very clearly all those times when i did something chivalrous and ended up being stared at, or called a creep- just because i was being nice. I was raised by both my parents to do all these things, and i enjoy doing so very much, but it took alot of time and determination to feel comfortable while doing so.

  • debunk

    Because chivalry happened at a time when women did not dress like sluts. and everybody knows men dont respect sluts as much… i wont say more, but seriously think about it.

  • Perro

    Chivalry used to be a system by which both sexes had privileges and obligations. Modern women wish to resurrect chivalry as a system by which women have only privileges and men have only obligations.

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