Nov 09

Chivalry died ages ago, where have you been?Have you ever opened a door for someone, or held it open out of courtesy only to be scoffed at or unappreciated for doing so? Chances are after a few times of experiencing this within a given area, you will stop doing it and conform to the ways of the people around you. If you are the type who doesn’t look for a “thank you” or a smile in return for your graciousness then more power to you, you are a rarity. For most people however, a show of courtesy deserves a show of gratitude in return. Think about it, when someone opens a door for you or helps you up into a train etc., a simple smile and nod or a “thank you” does not take much at all. When you do not return this to the helper, you are instantly seen as a snooty, bitch with a sense of entitlement or an ax to grind. Your actions can also ruin things for the next person down the line who may appreciate the help etc.

Now I have heard it all when it comes to the simple things men used to do for women. We all have grown up hearing that the woman is the “fairer sex”, that we are to love, cherish, and care for them etc. and that at the end of the day we should be men. The problem with man of the Information Age however is that we live in very different times than the standard of the Industrial Age to which we are told to emulate. The old times of the stay-at-home, pie baking wife is gone, this age yields the powerfully, independent, corporate woman. The times when men could fix a car, tend to the fields and build a house is passing quickly in lieu of men who can build a computer, defrag your hard drive and diversify a stock portfolio. The old man we are meant to emulate was hardened, self-sufficient and simple. In this age we are soft, manicured, cultured and fiercely intelligent. Let’s face it fellas the lines are beginning to blur, or let me do you one better, the line is almost non-existent between the sexes yet somehow we are holding on to old ideals.

Personally I was raised to be chivalrous and righteous in my own way. Morality and law dictates the lines we stay within and parenting helps mold the path we follow. Little girls expect their future boyfriends and husbands to be something like their daddy if he was around, or the fantasy guy on tv if daddy wasn’t around. Men expect women to know their role like the fantasy ideal of the past yet shoot for women that remind them of momma subconsciously. When daddy isn’t around for women, the pressure of that absence is pressed upon boyfriends and potential husbands which at times can be too much to bear. Trust me I’ve been that guy and when it dawns on you that you are simply a filler for some chick’s daddy issues it hits home hard. Being the woman that busts her ass within a male dominated business model to be successful; only to enjoy the fruits of your labor solo can suck pretty hard too. If winning at business life means losing in the relationship life, is it worth it? Based on the amount of articles written about that very subject I am going to say that some women don’t think so.

So what am I going on about? Well the pressures of past experiences theories and mean, ungrateful people have been the main killer of the chivalrous male. There are enough venomous, man hating, users out there to put a stigma on doing something extra for a strange woman. In my first paragraph I brought up the door opening scenario because at my University we were conditioned never to open doors for females. It started from my freshman year when I noticed that things were drastically different than they were back home. Where at home I would open doors, pull out chairs and help up ladies as the norm, when I attended school and did these things the women took it as if I was supposed to do it. There were no thanks, no smiles, no show of gratitude (I should reveal the school but I won’t) and it became a heated topic of discussion between my friends and I. We came to a decision that while we attended that University, we will not be holding open anything for random women. After taking this oath we observed that all of the men outside of our friendship circle were being the same way about it.

When I left school and got into the workforce I resumed my gentlemanly ways and received the thanks and smiles that I expect for the courtesy. I made me wonder about the guys who stuck to the mantra, if an entire University was conditioned to be this way due to a collection of women, what is it like out in the world. The first few dates I had with my lady were awkward when I tried to open her door for her and do the little things that I was used to. She attended the same school I did and was on the other end of the refusal to chivalry and did not expect these things from me. Being independent for years had conditioned her to not expect the assistance so it took some time for her to be comfortable with me doing them.  Our methodology reflects the ways and times of our age, some expecting the old ways while most adapting to the new ways. Chivalry is dead, bury it and leave it alone, though some of us have no issue with emulating the men of the Industrial Age. Many of our younger, more enlightened versions are not going to do it because they really don’t have to.

This is part of the decline of the Alpha male and the destruction of roles. The death began with entitlement and general rudeness and continues with the blur in gender lines and responsibility. We cannot honestly expect to act and live the way our ancestors did when our lives are nothing like theirs were especially with roles diminishing. What’s confusing for us all is hearing things should be one way yet living it out a completely different way. Why don’t we just kill the expectations altogether?

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  • Most guys I know seem to just float socially by being “safe”. By this I mean overly apologetic, unscrupulous people pleasing, and culturally lazy. Yet contemptuous of the “man’s man” (successful, physically fit, certain, not a push over). What I think we forget is that societal tendencies are created subconsciously and independently and often adopted unconsciously and collectively. As much influence to culture cohesion can be had by personal action as external environmental factors.
    Ayn Rand would speak of the destruction caused by compulsive altruism. This in facto relates directly to the change of chivalry in today’s world. As this article suggests man holds onto chivalry as a form of self identity in a world lost of historical masculine dream and purpose. Example (conquest, exploration, mass movement in exchange for safety, docility, and sterility)

    I’m of the opinion that male nature has become more and more marginalized or no longer insular. We can ride motorcycles as long as we stay within limits, you can be a tyrant if your quiet about it and stay off the map, or can only build something grand if it doesn’t ruin the view. The tenacity, strength, courage, savagery and constitution that to brought culture to where it currently is good or bad; by force is being pushed out of us quicker than we can genetically adjust. No wonder so many of us guys are messed up and have serious cognitive dissonance.

    The remaining question I come to is what is the new mythos for man to follow? If all mythos is allegorical or nonsecular, argued nonexistent or skewed how can we learn new things or chart new fields without perception expanding metaphor or realization.

    If no compulsive chivalry then maybe non-compulsive chivalry. If there is no benefit for each other we live only in tolerance without understanding. We are acting in-efficiently and disconnected all to uphold a principle that can be redefined at any moment.

    • Brilliant commentary on a fact of our existence that has troubled me for a very long time. As I get older and observe young men and their actions it becomes even more evident that we are dead in the water as males. Being the silent conformist is the answer it seems to a society that has cast off the things we once knew to be “manly” things but it makes me wonder if it adds to depression when your true nature is stifled like this.

      It all makes me extremely rebellious in my own way being that I think it was overkill on how we have been punished for the sins of our fathers. There is no easy fix to what has pretty much become a meaningless existence with no true definition of manhood these days, but I think we ought to push back a little to re-establish somewhat of a unified answer to “what’s a man’s duty in life?”

      It will have to be theories defined by action being that the things we once had are now done by both women and men, along with the fact that we have no physical defining moment of “coming into manhood” like receiving one’s period or having a child. Being that we are still seen as privileged it’s a tough argument to discuss however. But it does warrant discussion and you hit the nail right on the head with asserting that we float safely through life trying not to offend.

  • LP

    I sometimes wonder if a lack of courtesy is gender-based, or is it just the lack of importance we place on “civility” as a society. As a woman, I appreciate courtesy, I really don’t care who displays it, and yes, based on my own training, I hold doors for whomever follows behind me…