A male friend of mine asked me to write about Chivalry. “Is it really dead?” He asked me. ” Does a woman REALLY appreciate a man opening doors and pulling out chairs for her? Does she really appreciate when he shows up for a first date with a yellow rose? Opens car doors for her? I just wonder. What do you think?”
“Billy, all I can speak for is myself. I appreciate it,” I answered. “And, no, you are not the only one but they are rarer than they used to be.”
I looked up Chivalry on the internet to see what people were writing about. AskMen.com had written an article about Chivalry that was pretty balanced. I was disgusted when I read the comments, though. Angry, bitter, sexist comments that railed against women and their demands that they be treated with these “over the top” customs were posted alongside replies from women, angry and bitter, too, that they weren’t being respected. What are we doing these days? I don’t know if the question is so much about Chivalry, but it’s about mutual respect and consideration. There is so much anger on dating websites. They are full of angry women who are just trying to get a free meal or a free ride and angry men who are terrified of getting caught up with some domineering woman. There’s a bit of truth to both, I suppose, but I think those people are immature and selfish. And, I don’t mean that in an insensitive way. Immaturity can be caused by a host of issues from upbringing to disastrous relationships. These are really people who need to be somewhere building a value system rather than out looking for a partner. And, heaven forbid that they have more ungrateful, rude children that perpetuate the problem.
One of the reasons that I totally dig 12 Step programs is that they teach immature people (and yes, we can all be immature) to grow up and live by a value system that respects other people AND your own needs. Unfortunately, most people live most of their lives in an angry funk, unwilling to look at who they have become and what part they have had in their painful relationships. Instead, they blame “women” or “men” or “technology” or “society” or “media” or any other uncontrollable force. And, they live the rest of their lives proving that their philosophy is true bouncing from one bad, angry relationship to another.
Chivalry, respect, courtesy and societal customs with meaning take discipline and a mind that focuses on whether or not I’m happy with my own behavior regardless of how the other person behaves. I talked to Billy today, and asked him what he thought about Chivalry. He said he saw his Dad treat his Mom that way, and he thinks that it is important to treat women with respect. He even opens car doors for his ex and treats her with Chivalry because she’s the mother of his children. They had problems or they wouldn’t be divorced, but he still respects her as a person. He’s not doing it to “get” something from her which is one of the things I read in the comments on AskMen.com. He’s doing it because he believes it’s the right thing to do.
Chivalry was a code developed in Medieval Times that described how to be a gentleman. Chivalrynow.net describes chivalry in this way:
Chivalry spells out certain ethical standards that foster the development of manhood. Men are called to be: truthful, loyal, courteous to others, helpmates to women, supporters of justice, and defenders of the weak. They are also expected to avoid scandal.
Nowhere does it say that men are to bow down and be subservient to women or to put them on a pedestal or kiss their ass (more comments from the forum). It was a male code of ethics. At work, we have a code of ethics in how you treat authority. It’s not put in place for us to bow down to them, it’s a standard of behaving which shows respect to leaders. And, you know what? They have a code of ethics on how to treat their team members, too. Respect goes both ways. And, maybe….just maybe….those disrespectful people on that forum have gotten disrespectful treatment because they get back what they dish out.
I don’t believe Chivalry is dead. I believe that mature, respectful people still practice it. But, I think there are far fewer people who submit themselves to the discipline of doing the right thing. And, that goes for women as well as men. I return phone calls when a man calls me. I’ll cook him dinner when the time is right. I say “Thank you” for a nice dinner, and when he opens a door or pulls out a chair for me. I even sent flowers to two men I dated on their birthdays. One was blown away by it, and the other was not very gracious at all. But, it doesn’t matter to me how they react. I do what I think is right, kind and respectful. I have my moments when I react in a bad way, but I suck it up and apologize because it’s the right thing to do. What I’ve learned over the years is that love is not something magical….it’s something you do. When I make someone else feel good, respected and loved, I get more back than I ever gave. If you want to read more on that subject, read the timeless wisdom of M. Scott Peck, M.D. in the The Road Less Traveled.
My second husband was chivalrous when we were dating. He’d open car doors for me. My friends laughed because he was so enthusiastic about it. He brought me flowers. He gave Mama flowers when he met her. He paid for everything. One morning, he cooked me a candlelit breakfast. He pulled out chairs for me and planned wonderful dates. I KNOW that he felt good about who he was when he made me feel special. And, I was swept off my feet, probably a little too much. But, the point is, it didn’t put me on a pedestal. It put him on one. And, he was a salesman – a good one. He acted to get results….and he wanted me. The problem is that I don’t think men really want a good woman that much these days, so they don’t think it’s worth the effort. I find that really sad. It seems to be more about getting sex than building something special.
In romance, it’s important to remember that masculine energy does and feminine energy receives. I’m not going into the whole energy discussion here because that’s a blog in itself, but women who are in their feminine energy are more attracted to a man who is comfortable in his masculine energy. That’s the way God made us. We can all be uni-sex if we want, but it will dampen our sexual attraction for each other. So think of it this way, if you are looking for a woman to get attracted to you viscerally from the inside in a breathless, powerful way, be a man. And, there’s a code of ethics for being a man. It’s called Chivalry.