By Christopher David Lyttle
Chivalry is dead. Maybe not dead but definitely dying. It lays on the ground bleeding, its life source coursing out of puncture wounds; society stands over it with a butcher knife dripping its accomplishments onto leather shoes. Loafers. Chivalry – any last words? Society, bipolar – maniacal laughter becomes passive indifference, chivalry struggling under the weight of an unfeeling heel. Who is killing it, the calloused man or the independent woman?
Who is to blame?
“Baby, why do you do that?”
“Power walk to the door before I can open it for you, you’re making me look like a real douche.”
“I’m sorry, I guess I’ve just grown not to expect it.”
I was raised old school – you treat women like the queens that they are. You open doors, you pull out chairs, you pick up the bill… I was taught that this is what a real man must do. Chivalry, my mother taught me, is reserved for REAL men, not those generic ones with sagging pants and excuses. Keep your word and give up your jacket when she’s cold and the Universe will not implode. Plain and simple, she told me.
Moment of truth – I love independent women. A woman with her own plans, goals, money, dreams, aspirations – autonomy, catches my eye every time. But here’s the conflict… If I truly believe that women are equal and can and should do all things for themselves and assert positively that they do not NEED me, why hold on to the romanticized, and possibly outdated notion that a man MUST do things for a woman?
At times I liken chivalry to cutting apples for my two-year-old niece. Chairs are too big for small children so we pull them out, doors are often too heavy so we open them, and child labor laws keep toddlers money-less so we pay for them… When my girlfriend and I discuss taking over the world over dinner I never once think whether or not she needs help cutting her steak but I pulled out her chair before she sat down. It all seems so trivial to me.
Am I the murderer, Brutus, gaining the trust of chivalry only to orchestrate its demise?
I enjoy being a gentleman, it gives me pleasure, but at times I wonder if I take it too far. By opening doors am I being polite – I definitely open more doors for women (especially the pretty ones) than for men – am I being sexist? By socially bending over backwards for women am I solidifying their stature as the fairer sex or am I just fishing for passing smiles and compliments? Should I allow chivalry to perish, is it even my choice?
I was reminded by a very special person that feminism doesn’t just assert that women can do everything that a man can, but also that women have the self-determination to CHOOSE how they want to be treated in society. I agree. Chivalry is on life support now and I believe that it is women who should make the final decision as to whether or not to pull the plug… I think that men should reassess what it is that we are asserting socially for women by being especially courteous to them. But until both sides make a decision, let’s go Dutch tonight…