Chivalry is not dead. But it is not well, either.
A few years ago I was at a party with some friends. A few of us girls were talking in a little circle when a few guys walked up. One of the guys had an unopened can of root beer in his hand. One of my friends asked him where he had found it. Rather than tell her, he just held his out and said, “Here, have this one. I’ll go grab another.” She refused and repeated her question. They went back and forth, back and forth, and finally I piped up and said, “Seriously, let the poor guy be a gentleman. Take the soda already.” And this story, I believe, is an example how we women are slowly killing Chivalry.
When I was in high school, I had the most amazing crush on one of my friend’s older brothers. I didn’t share it with anyone, but I’m sure it was quite obvious. I was never (and still am not) one for sharing crushes. In any case, I know it was obvious to him. He was a “college boy” and I was a senior. I just thought he walked on water. And while he was not interested in me, he never failed to be a gentleman. Perhaps it was only because he was living at home, but my guess would be that it was more about how he was raised, that he was always like that.
One night we were hanging out (I think I must’ve been at his house waiting for his brother to get home…his brother with whom I was legitimately friends) and we decided to go get a movie at Blockbuster while we were waiting. This experience was all about the “door opening”. He made sure to open every door. I remember thinking, “This is the type of guy I want to end up with. The type who, regardless of whether or not he’s interested in her, will open doors for any and every girl/woman.
We often have dinner at my grandma’s house. She lives just down the road and, as many of our family friends have migrated to Utah, these dinner parties tend to be quite large and they are always buffet style. The ladies always go first. It’s just the way it is. There’s no question. If a man got in line before any individual woman, that would be the end of it. He would forever be known as “the man who had no manners”.
Well, things are not the same anymore. While Chivalry is alive and well chez my grandmother, I am amazed at how much things have changed just in the last 10 years. I have been guilty of it. I have beat men to doors so that I could open them myself. I have not taken a seat on a crowded bus when it was vacated just for me. I have insisted on sitting in the back seat, even when the front was offered. And on and on. Why do we do this? Why don’t we let men be men and appreciate them for it? Why must we be so independent all the time?
I feel bad for the guys out there. How can they possibly know how to act with all of the mixed signals we send them? This Sunday, after church, we had a “Linger Longer” (for those of you who have no idea what this term means, it’s a meal after church, at church…and at my church, as we are all single, it’s an opportunity to see and be seen). After the blessing on the meal was offered, one of the girls in my ward got up and reminded the guys (in a very polite and lighthearted way) that the ladies should go first. The announcement was as much for the ladies as it was for the men. And even after this, half of us stood around, not wanting to be first, waiting for the guys to get in line.
Why do we have to remind guys to let ladies go first? Why do we have to remind ladies to go first? Why do we have to tell men that it bugs us when, after only a few months of dating, they have stopped opening our doors or carrying our luggage? Why, when we stop at the gas station, are we pumping our own gas…even if we are paying for it?
Honestly, I think a good part of it (like 90%) is our own fault. Perhaps not individually, but collectively. Why would Chivalry want to live in a world where it is under-appreciated?
I love Chivalry. I do not want it to die. Of course I can open my own door, pump my own gas, and carry my own luggage. I am perfectly capable of standing on a bus and I will not starve if I get my food after the men. But that’s not the point. Chivalry allows men to be considerate and show their respect for women (and I personally find Chivalry to be super sexy). Why would we want to crush that? So, here is my plea. The next time a guy/man/boy even, offers to open your door, pump your gas, carry your luggage, give you his seat or insists that you go first, take him up on it and say thank you. I think perhaps, with a little mouth-to-mouth, Chivalry will breathe again.