Is chivalry dead?

As a hopeless romantic, I’d like to believe that the art of treating a woman like a lady is alive and kicking but am seriously having my doubts.

I walked out of an elevator with a bunch of guys the other day and not one of them stopped to let me go first. Like a herd of testosterone pouring out into the lobby. Yuck. I walked into an Au Bon Pain just a few days later and the guy in front of me, not only doesn’t hold the door, but doesn’t even offer to let me go ahead of him. Pathetic.

"He opened the door! Wow!"

It’s all so annoying because I grew up in a family where the men always treated the ladies like ladies – whether you were 5 or 50, your door was opened, you entered first and you were always looked after. What the heck happened?

I have a few hunches.

First, some guys never learned the simple rule: “Ladies before gentlemen.” I must say this to my 5yr old son 5 times a day. But it’s working and he now repeats it to my 8yr old daughter on the few occasions he remembers to let her go first or hold the door. But he’s 5 and learning and not a 35 old who should know better.

Second, some guys just don’t see a lady as someone who should be treated special. I believe this is also taught somewhere along the line and is a tragic trait to pass on. Not much to say here other than these are the guys that will end up very alone.

Third, it’s a cultural thing. Part of me says that I get this and believe it and part of me says it’s a cop-out. Maybe it’s cultural in YOUR country or if you just moved here a week ago…But if you’ve lived here for 15 years? I’m not buying it. I will say that I work with a team of Japanese men who are some of the most hospitable and courteous men I have ever met. They stand when I enter the room, they wait for me before they start walking or talking, they hold the doors and open them. That may be cultural but it is also chivalrous. I thanked my friend Masa the other day when he offered to carry my bag for me and I said: “Chivalry is not dead!” He had no idea what that meant. Case in point. He was just raised that way.

Or maybe feminism screwed us. I was discussing this topic with a friend of mine who said that he was raised to open the door and be chivalrous but that some girls feel like it’s sexist and don’t want their doors opened and want to do it all on their own. How confusing for a guy! As I thought about it, I couldn’t help but think how kind of bananas that is. I am the first person who believes in women’s rights, bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, being strong and independent and all of that jazz but at the same time, I fully embrace the wonderful gift of being a woman. I don’t see a man opening the door as a sign that I’m weak or inferior, I see it as a polite gesture and one of respect for a lady. Oh, and I always say thank you.

So, what’s the deal, guys? It’s not that hard to help a lady with her coat or open the door – it’s called being a gentleman and paying attention. If you want the 101 on how to open a door for a woman, check out The Art of Manliness blog. Love it – especially the Man Skills section. Can we get more manly men, please?


3 Responses

  1. Gins

    January 13, 2012 12:01 am,

    Michelle can attest to my chivalrous nature. It is a learned behavior. It’s really not such a difficult practice to exercise either–hold the door, open & close the car door, etc. (Don’t get me started on the dearth of elevator etiquette in our society.)
    Fellas: you wanna increase your chances of scoring with a lady? Treat her like a lady. Believe me, it works. 🙂

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