Is Chivalry Truly Dead???
Chivalry is defined as “the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.” Another definition is “a gallant or distinguished gentleman.” The final definition, one most relatable to women looking for a relationship in 2016 is “something that’s dead and should stay dead”. These definitions were taken from three separate sources including traditional dictionaries and a newer source to our culture, the Urban Dictionary. I wouldn’t say that any one definition is more correct that the other because truth can be found in all three definitions.
Some may argue that chivalry began to die when women’s independence began to rise. The word chivalrous is an adjective that describes a knight’s virtues. Nowadays you most likely won’t find a man in full armor galloping through your city on a horse, seeking to rescue damsels in distress. You may instead find a handsome gentleman who gets out of his shiny car to help a woman change her tire, or a man in a crisp shirt and clean business suit who is willing to ruin his outfit to save a woman from falling into a muddy puddle. How many times are women fortunate enough to witness acts of valor toward them or other women?
As young women we enjoy hearing about the prince or the knight rescuing the princess from the burning castle and the evil that’s trying to destroy her. However, do women really want to be rescued today? In the real world our burning castles may be a hard time on the job and the wicked witch after us may be the girlfriend spreading hurtful rumors. The simple act of having a door held, receiving a genuine, respectful compliment, or having a man give up his seat for you after nine hours of being in three-inch heels, is how we’d like to be rescued. According to the feedback from many men on the Urban Dictionary website, men seem to believe that women no longer want to be treated like princesses. In fact one contributor to the site quotes, “Something women complain is dead even though it cannot logically exist in an equal society, which is something women wanted. It’s one or the other.” He then gives us a scenario. “Jesse lamented about the death of chivalry while she lambasted the days when men oppressed women which was a time when chivalry was common; makes perfect sense.” Does this gentleman have a point? Do women complain that chivalry is dead yet would still rather open our own doors, pay for our own, do for ourselves and resist the help of men?
I believe that today’s woman enjoys feeling like a princess, but also wants to be the great ruling empress at times. I believe that she wants her career, but wants to go home and get her feet rubbed too. I believe that she wants her own, but also wouldn’t mind cooking for that special man at the end of the day. I’m a woman of a very culturally complex background. I was raised in the South by parents from the Islands in a very Christian, conservative home. I now live in very liberal New York City. My values therefore are very conservative and traditional yet progressive. I’m ambitious and desire to have a career and a business of my own, yet I also would like the day to come where I can have someone to cook for and spoon feed before giving him a nice foot-rub.
My dating ideals seem to be very different from most. I still believe that a man should pursue a woman, properly court, marry and then have children. I believe in the flowers, wining and dining and having that woman feeling like the only woman in the world. I don’t believe that the woman owes the man anything aside from respect and gratitude during this courtship. These are the values most of our mothers were raised on, and the ones our fathers learned to respect. Men wanted to be the knight, the prince, and the king and didn’t shy away from it or try to do as little as possible before getting the prize.
I believe that like me, there are many modern women who would like to balance career and home, while being rescued once in a while as well. Today’s woman may not need a man to necessarily take care of her, but she would like him to treat her like a princess still and sweep her off of her feet. Men who are truly knights in shining armor wouldn’t be intimidated by beauty, success, intelligence, independence or ambition. Rather, they’d embrace it and be willing to be the equal of that woman. Likewise, for chivalry to exist women must learn to step aside at times and let a man be a man. Part of the issue both men and women have with chivalry is accepting that there’s no such thing as “old-fashioned” treatment of people. People should be treated with respect always. Please and thank-you’s should be custom, not a thing of the past.
Furthermore, it’s perfectly alright to be good and accept goodness from others. Chivalry is genuine kindness and putting another’s needs before your own. Men are expected to be chivalrous but cannot do so without a woman allowing them that honor. I have been raised by some of the strongest women I know. My grandmother bore six children to one man while still cooking and cleaning daily, never working a day in her life outside of the home. She’s one the strongest-willed women I’ve known. My mother is still married to the same man of 33 years, and she still wakes up each morning to make him breakfast and coffee. She’s worked many years of her life, still, he has never had to wonder about dinner. These are the women who shape my world. They are true examples of strength. Chivalry is alive and well with the men who raised me. I’ve had the chance to witness real men give of themselves selflessly for women. That is why to this day it’s hard for me to accept a man who lacks valor. Is chivalry dead? It very well may soon be, yet I refuse to give up hope for its revival.
Written by Candice G. Preau
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