Beauties & Beaties

Monday, July 31, 2006

Chivalry...A Thing of the Past?

Chivalry is dead. We hear that all of the time. But what does that mean? Is it used as an excuse for poor manners, or do women actually lament the traditions and standards of days gone by? Are men less chivalrous these days or women more callous? The question was posed to fellow bloggers extraordinaire Curare_Z and The Phoenix: Is chivalry really dead and is it even welcome in today's society?

Ladies first...

She Says: The cliché is that every little girl dreams about a knight in shining armor arriving to take her away from the evils of her life to live in harmony and peace until the end of her days. From personal experience, I think most women would be perfectly happy if a man would arrive at her front door that bathed regularly and could hold a conversation beyond the phrase, “you fer shure do smell perty.”

But does that mean that chivalry is dead? Does this seemingly cavalier and callous woman even want a chivalrous man? Chivalry is alive and well – it’s just, well, evolved. It’s not dead, it just doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

The term “chivalry” is truly a reference to the medieval institution of knighthood. In the Middle Ages, chivalry meant a lot more than opening doors for women and throwing your coat over a puddle of water so her dainty feet wouldn’t get dirty. It has evolved over the centuries from a code for how an idealized man should act in all situations, to merely courteous behavior. I can honestly say that on a daily basis the men in my office open doors for me and allow me to enter and exit the elevator first. This is all courteous behavior. And I love it.

That being said, the evolution of chivalry, at least in my own life, has meant that I should not consider myself above it. If I am walking ahead of a man, I don’t wait for him to pull the door open for me. I open the door and hold it open for him. This usually results in a number of looks ranging from “thanks” to “you sure don’t look butch” to (my personal favorite) “f^$%ing bi&$# is trying to emasculate me.” Whatever.

There is a certain subset of women, let’s call them “crazies,” who interpret a man’s courteous behavior to mean he is demeaning her in some way. These “crazies” see a man opening a door for her to mean he thinks she’s too weak to do so herself. These “crazies” see a man gesturing for a woman to enter the elevator first to mean that he MUST want to stare at her ass.

My response to these “crazies” is: GROW UP. If someone is being nice to you, consider *GASP* being nice back. A simple thank you doesn’t make you weak; it makes you not so much of a bitch. And for you men that encounter these women: please don’t give up being friendly. People (both men and women) will appreciate your good manners. For you women that are considering or living the chivalrous, I say: Edmund Burke was full of shit when he said, “…chivalry is gone…”
Chivalry has just evolved, as we all should.

He Says: Is chivalry dead? My answer is a resounding "yup." It's dead.

Dead as a doornail.

Sure, you catch glances of chivalry here and there. But in modern Western Society, it's pretty much about as in style as argyle socks. The question is, why?

Easy. Women are to blame.

The new woman wants to not only bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, but do it without the assistance from men. It has seeped from the workforce, to the homestead, and down to even the everyday things like opening a door for a lady.

Not all women feel this way. In fact, it seems most women do like to be treated like a lady most often. The problem is that we men have received mixed signals. And we're therefore confused as hell. So guess what. We quit. I'm not playing the big guessing game anymore. Should I now open the door for you? Should I now pay for dinner? Do I offer you my coat?

Too often, women have told us "no." They remind us they are quite able to open their own damn doors. They have jobs and don't need us to pay for dinner anymore. And finally, we need to stop treating them like the "fairer sex" by thinking we're protecting them from the cold January wind by offering our coats. And then two days later, like a homicidal viking, you let slip the dogs of war on us for not offering to open the door for you.

Chivalry is dead, and you women out there have no one to blame but yourselves. The liberated woman has liberated herself from depending on men financially and emotionally. And unfortunately, your contradictory messages have left us simply confused and letting you get your own door.

If you ladies are still waiting for Prince Charming, you'd either better make do with a frog or hope your Fairy Godmother comes along real soon.