Redefining Chivalry in a World of Automatic Doors

We are striving for equality between sexes in today's world, yet I still hear many women complain about the lack of chivalry, that it is a dying art. We demand to be treated just like men- but with a little more consideration. When dating, it is acceptable for the man to pay or to split the bill, but if the woman were to pay the bill, it would likely be seen as a poor reflection on the man. What's up with that?

For as far back as history goes, men have been the providers, the hunters, the ones who made sure that their families were taken care of. The women tended the home, raised the children, cooked and cleaned. This goes way far back. At some point (I have to research more but I would guess it was with the world wars) women made their entrance into the work force, and liked it there.

Today we live in a society where the reversal of gender roles is becoming more common, and perhaps more acceptable (more on gender roles in another post! I find myself straying off topic!)... but in searching for a potential partner, I am encouraged by friends and by society- "make sure he treats you like a lady!"

By that concept, do I want to submit myself to traditional standards- do I want a guy who will woo me, court me, gift me with flowers, pull my chair out, be ever so attentive to my needs and desires? Well, of course. Who wouldn't? But is that FAIR?

I bought a dictionary yesterday, very excited by that. It's over 2,000 pages of words. :) According to the dictionary, chivalry is the 'sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.'

If knights in shining armor still existed in the literal sense, I am sure that women would want to be knights too. And we all can aspire to be more courteous to one another, generous with... and I'm drawing a blank as to what valor is. Back to the dictionary (knew I needed one!)... ah- heroic courage, bravery. Yes, anyone who is in a relationship or ever been in one knows that you need a lot of valor, regardless of your sex. As to the importance of dexterity in arms... well, I agree, but perhaps in a more literal sense... ;)

The point I am getting at is that in the quest for equality of sexes, perhaps chivalry is becoming a lost art because men either don't want to offend or don't see the point in treating someone differently because they are female. Why not advocate, then, for mutual chivalry? Treating both parties with the same qualities valued by the medieval knights... holding doors, taking the bill, offering the first roll, taking one's coat- all does not have to be done by one party. Taking the initiative to show another how much you respect them should elicit positive feelings (aka Groovy Vibes) for all involved.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. My thoughts are pretty similar to this in that I believe in common courtesy for everyone, regardless of the gender of either party. I've been known to give men flowers, open doors for them, and all that good stuff. If they return the favor because it gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling to be nice to me - great. But if they do it because I'm a woman and that's how men should treat women, then not so great in my mind.

    But I also think of it on the level of power, because when it is always the man paying, driving, taking the woman places, and everything else, he has all the control. When a man takes a woman to an expensive restaurant, even if he is a nice enough guy that he isn't thinking, "She better be putting out after that $50 steak", there is still a sense of obligation created by his spending money on her. He still has all the power in this situation. And when men are "taking care" of women, even if he just thinks he's being a nice guy, it still creates a dynamic where the woman relies on the man and the man controls the situation, again giving him all the power.

    I've heard a lot of men whine that women want equal rights but they still want men to pay for them, open doors for them, and buy them shiny things. Well I sure as hell don't. Personally, I find the "women should be payed for and pampered and protected" philosophy to be just as repulsive as the "women belong in the kitchen" philosophy. However, the former actually scares me more because it's a lot harder to get people to realize that there is anything wrong with it. It's a much more subtle type of sexism, yet no less harmful.