James M. Sama debunks the myth that women’s equality means chivalry has to die… it’s quite the opposite, in fact.
June 5th, 2015 was the 2 year anniversary of this blog’s inception. During its growth and development I have had much feedback on my articles, both good and bad. One of the most consistent comments however, is from men who tell me that if women want equality, they should therefore not expect men to be chivalrous.
Can chivalry and equality actually coexist?
This – is never a question I thought I would find myself asking. However, I have learned about many different viewpoints in the world after writing previous blogs on the topic of chivalry and respect, and I find that many of them are opposite of my own.
Chivalry, by definition, is as follows:
noun, plural chivalries for 6.
1. The sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.
2. The rules and customs of medieval knighthood.
3. The medieval system or institution of knighthood.
4. A group of knights.
5. Gallant warriors or gentlemen:
fair ladies and noble chivalry.
Note: Courtesy, generosity, and valor – in particular.
I find, when the occurrence does happen that people are ‘offended’ in some way by chivalry, there are some consistent reasons:
Women tend to feel that chivalry is outdated, and even chauvinistic. That it was born in an era where men did these types of things for women because they didn’t feel that the woman was physically capable of doing them. Perhaps hundreds of years ago, this was the view.
In modern day society – not so much.
Men feel as though it will put them in the ‘nice guy’ category, or the so-called friend zone. These men, I’ve found, have not yet experienced a mature woman who appreciates integrity and dignity in her choice of a partner. That, or they have gone overboard in the past. Being chivalrous does not mean being a doormat.
Chivalry, to me, is about respect. For me to open a woman’s car door or pull out her chair because I literally don’t think she is capable of doing it, would put me in a class of indescribable stupidity.
I do it because I care. Because I respect her. Because I want to find small things throughout the day that I can do, that send her a message. And any man worth his salt – does these things for the same reason.
I can sit beside a woman in a boardroom and fully expect her to be earning the same wages as I am, as well as fight for her right to do so. Socio-economic equality and rights are a different discussion outside everyday kindness towards our fellow humans.
Chivalry, as I’ve stated before, is manners. It’s politeness, and it isn’t only something men do for women.
Next time you see a man hold the door for another man, he is being chivalrous. Next time you come home from work and your significant other has dinner and wine ready for you, they are being chivalrous. Next time you see a parent carrying something for their child, they are being chivalrous.
Chivalry, I would argue, is not the enemy of equality – but a catalyst of it. Respect for others. Treating people right. Showing them that you care.
I’ve already pledged my efforts to lead the charge of The New Chivalry Movement – where I am dedicated to being polite and doing nice things for people, man or woman, on a daily basis.
So – do not be offended by kindness, for you will slowly strangle it in modern society. Do not be intolerant towards those with good intentions who want to help you – not because you need it, but because they want to. Do not infect the kindhearted with negativity and skepticism.
Simply embrace one another, and see chivalry for what it is – the mark of one human being performing a small act of kindness for another, with good intentions. There is enough negativity in the world, it’s time to celebrate the positive.
Originally appeared on James Michael Sama’s blog.
Photo: Artem Popov/flickr