They say that chivalry is dead. I don’t know if it is dead, but it is definitely dying. What exactly is chivalry? The definition of chivalry is “the qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor and gallantry toward women.” This means putting the ladies first. Opening the car door for them. Opening ANY door for them. Protecting their honor. Pulling the chair out for them at the dinner table. Of course, this also means pushing it back in and letting them sit on it, and not letting them hit the floor. But you get the picture. Chivalry means treating a lady like a lady.
So why is it dead, or dying? Well, first of all, there seems to be a rumor going around that all the guys were taken into a room when they were in Junior High School and given some lessons on how to treat a lady. How to open the door, pull out the chair, pay for a meal, how to date, how to read a woman’s mind, how to understand the female anatomy, and do all of this without any type of nervousness or insecurity. Yep. Nasty rumor. Never happened.
This might leave you scratching your head and thinking, “Then where are men supposed to learn chivalry? Where do they learn how to treat a woman?” I will let you in on a little secret, if men have not witnessed good relationships, either from family or friends, or if they don’t have close friends that they can talk to about this kind of stuff, then they are completely on their own to figure it out. Men learn by example, and if they have not lived in an environment where ladies are treated with respect, they haven’t learned respect. And figuring it out on their own means failure, frustration, melt downs, successes and lots of questions along the way.
When I was growing up, men sort of knew what their role was when it came to chivalry. It was everywhere they looked. It was in the home. It was on television. It was in the school. It was in the work place. They knew what was expected of them in a relationship. But things have changed. And they have changed big time! We don’t know what relationships and manners are supposed to look like and feel like anymore. I think we have lost our focus on how men are supposed to treat women. Men haven’t stopped treating women with respect, they just don’t know what chivalry is anymore.
Young men today spend more time texting, Snapchatting, Instagraming and Facebooking with young ladies than they do actually speaking to them face to face. It is easy to hide behind a phone or computer and say what you want to say. But it is awfully difficult to say those same things face to face. The young people today are missing out on what it truly means to have a live conversation with a person of the opposite sex. Technology has changed things.
I think another reason chivalry is dying is that women have been demanding equal rights. Don’t get me wrong, I think that this is great and I believe in being equal. But some women started to get angry when the door was held open for them. Or the dinner bill was paid by the man. They feel that they are strong women and more than capable of opening up their own door. Or paying for their own meal. They feel that they are strong and independent. And I agree with them if they feel this way. And some women stopped accepting chivalrous acts from a man them because they viewed it as something it wasn’t. They felt the man saw them as weak. When in fact, it was just a kind and polite gesture. An act of chivalry. And of course, most women still enjoy being treated like a lady.
Here is the catch, what works with one female does not always work for other females. The men were left trying to figure out what to do, or not to do, so that they did not upset the ladies. They open the door for one lady and get a “Thank you” in return. They do the same thing the next day for a different lady and get a butt chewing about them not needing the door opened for them. Very confusing. So, men stopped trying. Some men.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working a prom for one of the local schools. As I stood by the door with the superintendent, I commented on the fact that the men were not being very polite when it came to their dates. I watched couple after couple come through the door. The young man would open the door, walk in, and the young female would walk in behind the young man. I was floored! I had never witnessed this type of behavior. That is when I started to notice that chivalry is dying.
I always open the door for my wife and try to be as polite as possible. I always want her to feel like a queen. Well, except when I am hiding dirty diapers under her pillow, but that is different. That is why I say, “I TRY.” And I tried to raise my sons to show respect to all people.
A while back a friend of mine passed away. Tom MacAlpine. Many of you knew T-Mac. When I walked into the church for his funeral, I was handed a small folded paper. This document contained his obituary. When I turned it over to read the back, those words stuck with me. After the funeral I went back to my office and I taped that paper to the wall next to my desk. Those words have stuck with me since the funeral and will always be in the back of my mine. And I’d like to share those words with you now:
Lasting words from T-Mac:
Erin: “Dad, if you could give me any advice, what would it be?”
T-Mac: “Be kind to everyone! No matter walk of life, be kind to everyone.”
Be kind to everyone! So here is the bottom line guys, we need to start leading by example. We need to act chivalrously to the ladies. Chivalry is dying, but we can revive it. Treat ladies like ladies. Be a little bit kinder to each other, both men and women. Say please and thank you. Act like members of the human race. Help a person when they are down. We can do it. We can make this world a kinder, politer place. And it starts with opening a door.