Chivalry means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But it certainly isn’t “dead.”
The popularized version might be. That is, if you define the merit of a concept by how it permeates culture. In that sense, many of us (myself included) would concede that the “mainstream” version of chivalry as defined by “knights in shining armor” and a strict code of etiquette is certainly an afterthought for most people.
And if you only define chivalry literally, then I suppose you consider it to have been dead since the days of medieval knights in shining armor.
But that’s not the type of chivalry we’re talking about, and it’s not even close to what our elders would call it.
The widespread view of chivalry comes down to various types of acts that are influenced by a holistic attitude. The acts in question are things like opening doors for others, taking someone out on a nice date and exercising manners.
As I said before, these acts are influenced by an attitude that begs them genuine. The attitude is a layer of sincere respect for the person receiving the kind acts you’ve bestowed upon them.
Put that way, it’s easy to see why chivalry doesn’t have to be constrained to just one gender or even role someone may play.
Chivalry can be an extension of how you treat your parents, friends and neighbors. Not just your lover. But that’s getting out of focus.
Sticking with just the lover thing, chivalry is commonly placed on the shoulders of men, and I believe rightly so. That doesn’t mean men are the only members of society to be chivalrous. It just means that chivalry is expected from men by men.
We set the example, basically, and it’s no one else’s fault when we fall short (no matter what Elite Daily tells you). Women shouldn’t have to tell men that they need to step up their manners, for example. Men should be telling each other.
Now, this is the part where we lament over how men are no longer chivalrous. It’s “dead” or something. But I think you’re talking about something else. The acts we associate with chivalry are falling by the wayside, maybe. Fewer men seem to be willing to evoke the symbol of a “modern” gentleman, whatever that means (because it’s so difficult to easily define what a modern gentleman is or is even supposed to be).
The idea of doing things to prove that you’re chivalrous isn’t as popular these days for a lot of reasons. But that attitude of respect and dignity toward the opposite sex? If you pay closer attention, you’ll find that many men and women still exercise this. No one has to tell you that respect is a good thing. It’s something we still expect and appreciate when we see it.
Over time, I think it’s been easier for women to see through the empty, fake chivalry that men use to receive a reward. That is, men who use chivalry as a tool, instead of a lifestyle, to win the woman’s body over her heart.
So men have adjusted. Many aren’t as quick to “fake it” and be a nice guy because they know it’s futile. You either have that attitude of chivalry, or you don’t. If you do have that attitude, you’re still not a perfect gentleman. You’ll still make mistakes. But you’re working toward that role when you default to the idea of being kind, over being reckless.
I see chivalry everywhere. Not as much as I see disrespect, sadly. But I still see it when men ask a girl on a date face to face instead of texting her. I see it when someone opens a door for someone else, regardless of gender. And I see it when men don’t rush intimacy out of respect for the other person and themselves.
And yes, many men exercise “traditional” chivalry honestly and successfully.
Of course, I suspect my standards might not be high enough. If you’re like me, you were raised to always go the extra mile when it comes to respecting others. Not just with your attitude, but with actions that reflect that attitude. I just wouldn’t be so quick to judge one man’s chivalry over another’s. You know, unless it’s terrible.
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6 thoughts on “Chivalry Isn’t Dead. It Just Looks Different.”
loved this, jon.
nod of approval and respect
Well said Jon. Looking forward to meeting you someday. Can’t tell you my middle name though:)
Hm, well I know it’s not Cathleen. So that narrows it down…
I would love to see this in a magazine like “Glamour” or “Cosmopolitan” Such a perfectly worded post! 🙂
Ha, I doubt they’d accept it but thank you!