Should Chivalry Die?
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Politics and Activism

Should Chivalry Die?

From the point of view of a feminist who was raised a gentleman.

Should Chivalry Die?
Classic History

On my way to work one morning, an interesting conversation began among some of the morning talk show hosts. One of the hosts argued against some of the things men do for women such as holding the door or walking on a certain side of the sidewalk. She maintained that men in her place of work had lost respect for her when she let them do these things. She cited cases of co-workers ignoring her and even talking over her during meetings, things that hadn't happened before. She reminded her co-hosts and the morning commuters that many chivalrous aspects arose out of the need to protect women (who are seen as weak and needing the help of a man).

Another one of the hosts could not cite any similar examples in her professional life, and said that she appreciates gentlemen going out of their way and expecting nothing in return. One of the other hosts on the show, a man looking to find middle ground, said that he was raised to do certain things for women out of respect and he would continue to do so unless a woman asked him to stop.

I often find myself debating what it means to be a gentleman in my head. What exactly is a gentleman? And is chivalry needed in developed countries in the 21st century?

For me, this contention begins with growing up in the south. I was raised to hold chairs out for women during meals always say yes ma'am, hold the door open at all costs, help them into and out of cars, stand up when they leave the table, and above all else to never hit them. Throughout my life I have seen self-ascribed gentleman break these rules time and time again, making me wonder why they are there in the first place. Despite this obvious transgression against the rules of behavior that I was taught, I continued to follow them. Not just to women, but to everyone I meet because that's the right thing to do. I have never done so with the intention of making someone feel inferior, weak, or helpless. I do so because old habits die hard and this world could use people being nicer to each other.

As a feminist, I respect the arguments against many chivalrous aspects. If you do not like somebody doing many of the things I have previously mentioned, then you can tell them to stop. If they are truly respectful, they will listen and adhere to your request (although they may falter from time to time due to habit). If anybody, especially a man who calls himself a gentleman, does something that disrespects you - call him out. In modern parlance, drag them like the dirt they are.

So, in answer to the question should chivalry die, my answer is not very simple. The intentions behind chivalry are antiquated and largely unnecessary, and will not be missed. The respect shown to people by many chivalrous actions, however, is much needed in our country and in our world and those should not be treated with spite. On the other hand, jerks who wear the facade of gentlemen in order to achieve some other goal deserve the approbation of everyone they meet.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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