Is Chivalry Still Appropriate Today?
I’ve been asked to teach a kid’s etiquette class to both boys and girls. As I’ve been putting together the curriculum, I had to pause when it came to teaching appropriate behavior for boys for treating girls and women in this modern day. I wondered should men still be expected to open the door for a woman, to pull her chair out, help her with her bags, walk on the street side of the sidewalk to protect her from splashes, etc.?
I decided to put the question out to my Twitter and Facebook contacts. With the exception of one neutral answer, everyone responded that chivalry is still important. Both men and women agree. I also heard from a few women how much they appreciate those niceties. They like being treated like a lady. And you know, so do I. But I struggle with that because really, men and woman are equals and I have wondered if chivalrous acts mean women are weak or incapable. I came of age during the feminist movement, so I was taught that chivalry is insulting to women.
As I read more and pondered this further I came to the conclusion that chivalrous acts are not about seeing women as weak but rather as a way for men to be gentlemanly, courteous and respectful of women. People as a whole have gotten ruder and disrespectful over the years, so returning to a time when men are gentlemen and women are ladies would be a great step towards restoring civility and courtesy.
After my informal research and much discussion with friends and family, I’ve decided that I’m going to teach the boys in my class that they should treat girls with respect and the girls should not only allow it but kindly expect it. Whether that’s holding the door open for her, helping her with her coat, pulling her chair out or helping her carry something heavy; all of those acts show respect to a woman and let her feel like a lady.
Long live chivalry and a more genteel time.
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