Is Chivalry Dead? I Certainly Hope Not
Isn't it great when a man holds the door open for you?
Before the coronavirus crisis, I used to love it when a man held the door open for me. (Now he'd have to be six feet away.) On the rare occasion that I went on a first date, I sure as hell hoped he would pay — for everything.
I teach my son to abide by the custom of “ladies first,” and I tell him that he should walk on the outside of any girls/women on a sidewalk as a gesture of protection. As a matter of fact, I honor some of the more traditional gender roles, too. I don’t have a husband or a boyfriend, but if I did, I would be totally OK with being the designated cook, launderer and housecleaner as long as he is taking the trash out, shoveling the snow and getting the oil changed in the car.
I am OK with these gender roles, 100 percent. Call me old-fashioned. It is OK. I am old-fashioned. I am not ashamed.
Many would say that my beliefs hurt the feminist movement, and maybe that is true. I don’t really know. I don’t think that men should open the door for women because women are weak and inferior. Yes, I can hold the door open for myself. I am perfectly capable of doing it all.
Most days I am doing it all by my feminine self, and while that is empowering, it is also exhausting. I don’t want to do it all. There is a deep-rooted desire in my soul to be protected, cared for and, for lack of a better phrase, treated like a lady.
OK, so maybe this is more complicated. Weeks ago, I embarked on a mission. I was certain that chivalry, if not altogether deceased, was experiencing a quick and painful death. I wanted to prove my point, and I was prepared to blame the feminist movement for the death of chivalry. I can’t remember the last time a man held the door open for me.
And don’t even get me started on the world of modern dating. Men merely swipe right on the app of their choice for an insta-date! They even dare to write things on their profile that read as threats: “Don’t swipe right if you don’t plan on meeting me” or “No drama allowed.” Seriously? What happened to courtship and the risk-taking that accompanies dating? Or they take an even easier route and direct you to their IG account because they “aren’t on this app a lot.” It’s just lazy. Some men have gotten lazy and inconsiderate.
Chivalry is dead. And I was ready to prove it. I asked everyone I possibly could about the topic — men and women alike. I asked my children and coworkers. I wanted to hear what everyone thought and learn about what they observed in their daily lives. I started observing men’s behavior obsessively. And guess what happened? I saw chivalry everywhere.
I started noticing just how often men held the door for me and other women. I was surprised when a brave, older man pulled me aside (on Christmas Day, no less) to tell me that I had a Velcro roller stuck to the back of my sweater. Two men helped to jump-start my car in the parking lot of a bagel store so I didn’t have to wait for AAA. My neighbor plowed my driveway when he saw me slowly shoveling out the 6 inches of snow. An acquaintance paid for me to get into a hockey game when I didn’t have any cash. My ex-husband offered me his couch when I found myself without heat on the coldest night of the winter.
Men were surprising me with their manners and thoughtfulness. I was indeed protected, cared for and treated like a lady (for lack of a better phrase). And the men I spoke with were proud of their consistent, gentlemanly manners. Many spoke of moms who raised them well and sons they knew were watching. These men wanted to talk about chivalry and share stories. They were adamant that no matter what happens or how women respond to their gestures, they are not going to stop being gentlemen. Good, chivalrous men are everywhere!
Maybe it is simply a matter of “seek and you shall find,” but I encourage you to seek it for a few days: Observe; take note; talk about it. Discuss it with women, men, kids and the elderly, and I guarantee your interest will be piqued. I am not likely to find chivalry on Bumble or Tinder. And I can’t imagine many men pulling out a chair for a woman before they sit down to dinner these days.
Chivalry is changing, as it should be. And as we navigate the new normal of quarantined life, I can’t help but wonder: is there room for chivalry here, too? Can a man be virtually chivalrous? I sure hope so, but I am not sure how that will look. For men who honor and respect the tradition of chivalry, perhaps it will come easily. Maybe they will intuitively know how to offer that old-age feeling of protection and care via Zoom and FaceTime and virtual happy hours. One thing is for sure, however, and that is that I will be looking for and hopefully finding it soon in a computer screen near me.