The Oxford English Dictionary defines chivalry as polite and kind behaviour that shows a sense of honour, especially by men towards women, or in the Middle Ages the religious and moral system of behaviour which the perfect knight was expected to follow. I have to admit this reflects my thoughts on the subject. Chivalry makes me imagine knights in shining armour fighting for their maiden’s honour or gentlemen laying their coats in the mud to save a lady’s shoe. I realise this is archaic, the world has moved on. My feet are not clad in silk slippers and I would not expect anyone to fight for my honour because of my sex. But does this mean the art itself is deceased? I hope not.
I think, like many things we have just come to view chivalry slightly differently. After all what it means to be a knight has completely changed, so surely acting like a knight has changed as well! These days perhaps we’d call knightly behaviour ‘respect’. As a child you’re told to respect your elders, as a teen you’re taught to respect yourself. 21st century boys are being raised by strong, independent women who teach them to respect everyone regardless of gender, race or religion. (Equality has come so far that I didn’t even know how to write that sentence, or if I should. Why do I need to say that boys show respect to girls, when I probably wouldn’t say that girls show respect to boys? Tricky). However while we’re in this transition phase from a man’s world to an equal one (I still believe we are) I have to say I feel quite sorry for boys when it comes to being chivalrous; it seems like a bit of a mine field. I’ve heard tales of women getting quite cross if a man opens a door for them or offers to carry something because it may be too heavy (‘I can do it myself!’ is a popular retort). One poor fellow on a bus got a right earful when he offered his seat to a lady (or not a lady as it turns out, just a woman, lady’s don’t use such colourful language!); I really don’t think he was trying to suggest she was pregnant or old; he was just being polite to a woman with lots of shopping. Other women however darn well expect to be treated like a lady! They will sit in the car waiting for their door to be opened and wouldn’t dream of paying for their own dinner on a date. I personally prefer being in the middle.
Let’s go Dutch!
I hold doors open for people and have been known to buy the cinema tickets (you can get the popcorn) and pay for dinner. I’ll pick up my date and do the driving or buy presents for no reason. At the same time I love being on the receiving end of such behaviour. I’m a girl who enjoys being bought flowers, being taken out on a date….maybe it’s not respect, maybe it’s romance! Wikipedia is telling me chivalry and morels also go hand in hand. How can one word be so all encompassing?
In my opinion, chivalry is not dead in 2011; we just need to change how we define it. Men and women can be mutually chivalrous, respectful and romantic. After all being a knight in shining armour sounds like it could be a lot of fun, why not take it in turns? 😀
I just can’t seem to write today, the thoughts are in my head perfectly but translating them into a blog just ain’t happening. Maybe it’s the hangover, maybe it’s the loud environment I’m in…I feel like there was a much better post in me somewhere I just couldn’t quite grasp it! Sorry Katy! Maybe the Miss Peg Daily and Blog of Sense had more luck, hope so!