Monday, August 9, 2010

Chivalry is Dead...?

Recently, my a good friend of mine said no to two different guys who treated her poorly the first time around and attempted to pick up where they left off. The first spent many days at dinner with her (while they were dating) talking to one of his “bro”s on the phone for 15, 20 minutes. These bro talks, in his mind, seemed to outweigh the importance of being with her. Bro talks he probably had with his “bro”s every single night. One time, he went to pick her up with his buddy, and his buddy refused to get out of the front seat and let her sit in the front seat. The boyfriend said ne’er a word.

The second guy has some serious issues with the concept of “other people.” Even in his last dying request before she chose to go on a mission instead of date him, he said (and I quote): “I don’t want us to wonder forever what we could have had together… although I will say I’m not ‘smitten’ by you, and I don’t know if this will lead to marriage. I just feel so good being around you and I love how I feel when I’m around you…” Even in his final plea, he chose to focus on his own insecurities and how HE felt like the relationship would progress (I could imagine him saying after this final plea, “There you have it. The ball is in your court. Well, actually, the ball is still totally in my court, if that’s ok with you.”) I see here a complete failure on his part of respect and trust in the relationship, replaced by a selfish desire to “see what happens” instead of letting her serve a mission.

Another girl told me the other day that the last guy she dated was so into himself, she had to tell him one day that he had not asked about how SHE was doing that entire week. Perhaps he had become so wrapped up in himself, he forgot that he was dating someone.

This all applies (loosely, perhaps) to chivalry, in my mind. Too much have I heard chivalry defined in very strict terms: open the door for a girl, let the women be served food first, etc. etc. Is this really what chivalry is?

I was raised with a mother who never opened her own door. She always insisted that we act as gentlemen and open it for her. She was not acting in superiority, arrogance, or selfishness. She did it to teach me and my brothers one simple way in which to treat women. Frequent occurrences like this one played a huge part in helping my brothers and I develop a respect for women that can be referred to as “chivalry.” Women, to us, were not our “bros;” they deserved more. From what we said to how we acted to what we thought, women were to be treated with the utmost respect.

Did this always translate? No. I played my fair share of pranks on my sisters, and I have failed to get the door for my date a number of times. I guess my point is that too many times I hear chivalry regarded as outdated, unnecessary, and sometimes even irritating, when in reality chivalry, like virtue, should be protected, fostered, and encouraged. Gone should be the days where a girl sits at dinner while her boyfriend talks to his buddy on the phone for 20 minutes about the next Jazz game.

I’ll sum up my new definition of chivalry as thus:

Chivalry is the internal respect of women translated into external behavior.

I’m really curious about how you guys would define chivalry, so feel free to chime in.


  1. I feel like this is the new medium to replace sacrament meeting programs.

    Chivalry might extend beyond respect. I agree that it can definitely be more than the standard door opening, etc. The word I would use is honor. To have chivalry is to treat a woman like it's an honor to enjoy her company. I think it runs deeply, like you say.

    it doesn't amaze me that there are guys who would do this, but I meet them very rarely. It really not something girls should take, but some girls are okay with it. Other girls (feminists) would probably never even start a relationship with this sort of guy. On a side-note, the concept that a man doing something in service to girl is a way of casting women as incapable is ridiculous. Anyone can open a door, do women really think men doubt that? (Apparently one girl who wrote an opinion in the Daily Universe does.)

    I guess the biggest lessons are for men to treat women with honor, and for people to pass chivalry on to their children.

  2. "Respect from the self-respecting" would be my definition.

  3. Dude I kinda agree with you. However, I think that chivalry depends on the person because opening doors for me is not necessarily chivalrous. I how chivalry by doing dishes and letting my wife buy clothes. Too me that is chivalry. But how we define chivalry is totally dependent on the individual.