Monday, September 04, 2006

"Chivalry is Dead"...a Commentary

"Last weekend, my roommate’s girlfriend came to visit and I spent most of Sunday third-wheeling it with them.... As I wondered who was going to drive, my roommate opened the passenger door for his girlfriend to sit down, before walking back around the car. I was astounded. I had witnessed modern day chivalry, and then I vomited a little in my mouth.

My aversion toward chivalry can be justified by looking at its effect on relationships. Thinking of chivalry, a person usually recalls a time when men saved damsels in distress and women were typically uneducated. In this time long ago, a chivalrous code was developed in order to protect the helpless ladies.

In modern society, women are just as smart and independent as men, so why should men seek to treat them otherwise? A relationship should be founded on the mutual benefits two people receive from each other’s company, and should consider each individuals’ personality. Chivalry tries to define how relationships should work by assigning roles based on sex, excluding character contrasts.

I proposed this idea to some female friends. The responses were generally the same: 'I want to be independent but it’s nice to have a guy show he cares by doing things for me every so often.' Seems hard to argue, but my point is this: a guy should do something chivalrous because he is inclined to do so, not because it is an expected duty.

No matter how terrible that song is, Nelly Furtado is right: 'chivalry is dead,' at least in the sense that it is no longer necessary, and possibly harmful to relationships. A person should not be expected to act a certain way in their own relationship, and a female should judge a man on his personality, not his manners."

-Flyer News, Volume 54, Number 2

Quite a bit has been discussed in the blogosphere concerning chivalry as of late. Excellent points have been made on David Boskovic’s Oneway Purpose, and in Brett Harris’s series on The Rebelution regarding gentlemanly behavior. There is no need for me to repeat the points made there, but I would like to add a point of my own to the mix.

Chivalry is not a mere tradition that should be abandoned. If it is indeed dead or dying, women should do everything in their power for it to be resuscitated; for if chivalry is lost, then femininity is in great danger of being forgotten.

A pastor once explained in his sermon the differences between men and women, and what it meant to be a "weaker vessel." (1 Peter 3:7, NKJV) He showed to the congregation two pitchers. One was a plastic water pitcher. He explained: "Men are like this pitcher. It is strong, heavy-duty and designed for a unique purpose."

Then, the pastor revealed a delicate, porcelain teapot to the congregation. "Women," he said as he gently upheld the fragile pitcher, "are like this teapot. It is the weaker vessel. If I dropped it, it would shatter. If I dropped the plastic pitcher, it would not shatter. But the value of the teapot is not diminished by its delicateness. We treasure and protect teapots."

Chivalry is servanthood, based upon the principle that men and women are different. Usually chivalry does not require earth-shaking actions, but small actions such as offering a girl a chair, indicate a respect for femininity.

Any thoughts?

20 Comments:

Blogger TheEarthCanBeMoved said...

As a guy,
This is a pet peeve of mine.
I disagree that chivalry is dead,
But I will agree that it is being observed less and less in today’s society.
I’m all for equality and all that good stuff,
But you equality doesn’t mean sameness.
Equality refers to value.
Sameness refers to treatment.
Both guys and girls are human,
Therefore equal,
But anyone who tell you they are the same has to either be blind or have zero social interaction in the real world.
Call me old fashioned,
But I see no reason to leave chivalry in the pages of history books.

September 04, 2006 12:32 PM  
Blogger the traveler said...

I don't think chivalry is dead. I think society and feminist women have retrained many men to think that women don't want to be treated like ladies.

I like your teacup analogy.

September 04, 2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger Carey said...

Feminism hasn't totally killed chivalry (yet), but it's doing a great job of slowly killing it. We strove for equality in every arena - wanting to be the same as men - thinking we were missing out on something.

Now we are missing out on something - being treasured. Every woman (even hard-core feminists) have the built-in desire to be cherished and protected by a man.

I think it is very important that today's women encourage men to be real men. We wanted to dominate and overtake them. Well, we got our way and look what happened. We have a bunch of little boys instead of men like William Wallace.

One of my mistakes was deriding the "burpers and scratchers" (as Eric Ludy puts it), instead of seeing them for what they could be. We women should exhort the men in our lives to become a William Wallace -- a tender warrior -- instead of shrugging our shoulders and saying "guys will be guys." Guys will be guys until we urge them on to be MEN. Not all males are men.

Some people have told me that my standards are too high for a man. Should I desire anyone other than a man who emulates Christ Himself -- tender servant and king? We need to hold high our standards for manhood -- guys need to be challenged.

Personally, I want nothing less than a William Wallace.

(Check out Eric and Leslie Ludy's material on the subject -- good stuff.)

September 04, 2006 4:13 PM  
Blogger Palm boy said...

It ain't dead. And I'll bet a lot of people who say it is, or should be, have not been the recipients of it, and are mearly bitter. Or angry at men, or just both.

Ditto on Earthy.

September 04, 2006 7:16 PM  
Blogger aussietigger1980 said...

Me? I love chivalry. :)

September 04, 2006 10:13 PM  
Blogger Alexander Blair said...

I saw a link to this from ROC, and went and checked it out. At first I thought one of you wrote the article and was a bit...surprised. :P

But yes, good response to it. Especially quoting the pastor's analogy. ;)

September 05, 2006 7:32 AM  
Blogger The IBEX Scribe said...

It's not dead, but I agree that feminism is largely responsible for smothering femininity and chivalry. Chivalry is about respecting women and showing them preference. It is not necessarily that we are helpless, rather that we are, indeed, weaker. I told some of the 10-12 year old boys that I worked with this summer that chivalry is a great way to get a girl's attention. Don't show off - treat her well. Women respond to that, unless they've got some axe to grind, and I think women like those who wrote that article are definitely grinding some axe. I'll take a chivalrous man, please!

September 07, 2006 10:18 AM  
Blogger ~*Joyzey*~ said...

Ditto on Carey.

A good way to put it for me, is I want a man that's more of a man then I am.

I know what a gentleman should do(I do it too, one of my small problems). So I know when the boys are being, well boys!

For the most part I already am a William Wallace and only when I have chivalry shown to me, do I really try and act like a lady. I have been reading other blogs that are talking about this, but if you think about it; We women are to help encourage boys/males to be Men. But to help us truly act like Ladys, we have to have Men treat and except us to be Ladys as well. A good(and just about only) way to do that is to show chivalry to us.

The way TheEarthCanBeMoved put it:
"Equality refers to value.
Sameness refers to treatment."
Says it really well.

I will act in sameness with you guys, until you treat me differently. And I know that until I treat you differently, I will still be surrounded by (just)boys!

September 07, 2006 3:01 PM  
Blogger Carey said...

I think you should still be a lady despite the lack of knights. Only until you take your place as a woman, will guys even get the hint that they must be men. You shouldn't let their behavior affect yours.

September 07, 2006 6:14 PM  
Blogger ~*Joyzey*~ said...

But it still helps alot to a former hard core Tomboy.

September 07, 2006 6:16 PM  
Blogger Carey said...

It helps, but God ultimately has to be the one responsible for the change in you and others.

I speak from personal experience. Anyone can ask my family -- they are utterly shocked at the change in me, but it was all God. Sure, He may have used a person or two to bring about the change, but He gets the glory.

September 07, 2006 6:19 PM  
Blogger The IBEX Scribe said...

I trained one of my good friends to open doors for me and so forth by doing it for him. It drove him crazy, so he started doing it for me. I told him I was teaching him to be chivalrous by example.

September 08, 2006 4:17 AM  
Blogger Philippa said...

A pastor once explained in his sermon the differences between men and women, and what it meant to be a "weaker vessel." (1 Peter 3:7, NKJV) He showed to the congregation two pitchers. One was a plastic water pitcher. He explained: "Men are like this pitcher. It is strong, heavy-duty and designed for a unique purpose."

Then, the pastor revealed a delicate, porcelain teapot to the congregation. "Women," he said as he gently upheld the fragile pitcher, "are like this teapot. It is the weaker vessel. If I dropped it, it would shatter. If I dropped the plastic pitcher, it would not shatter. But the value of the teapot is not diminished by its delicateness. We treasure and protect teapots."


I find this a most unsatisfactory analogy. Yes, women are weaker, physically, than men. Nature compensates us for this in that we tend to live longer than men. And, of course, we bear children, so we pass through the pain barrier with flying colours, as it were.

The pastor's analogy also seems to bypass the fact that many, indeed if not most, women have great emotional strength. Many things in life can cause a strong man to shatter (the same applies to women, of course.) In which case he needs the support and respect of a loving wife to help him get through the crisis.

When I think of my parents' marriage, it is my mother who really provides the emotional strength in the relationship. Not that my dad doesn't have great strengths - he's been a wonderful father and has always put his family first. Nobody could have had a better father. :) But I can't help hoping that he goes before she does, simply because I can see her coping with widowhood better.

I have no quarrel with chivalry, by the way. I'm all for it. :)

But when the strong man shatters, the not-so-fragile 'teacup' is his emotional strength and support.

September 08, 2006 6:46 AM  
Blogger Hannah Beth said...

Hi Philippa! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I would like to clarify that the point of the analogy is to explain the concept of women being the weaker vessels. Husbands are told to cherish and love their wives, keeping in mind that they are weaker. Chivalry originates from respect for the differences between men and women.
We have seen a movement of women demanding that they be treated the same as men, and as a result there has been a breakdown of the differences between the genders. Ladies are not respected for being ladies, and men are not respected for being men. We can see men standing by as women open doors for themselves or carry heavy objects, and an overall lack of chivalrous behavior, but the root problem is that men and women do not see that the contrast between the genders extends beyond anatomical differences. We were each designed differently, and those differences ought to be respected, not hidden or ignored.

September 08, 2006 8:12 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Chivalry should be an outward manifestation of the order and beauty of the relationship ordained by the Creator Himself. Longfellow explains it well:

As unto the bow the cord is
So unto man is woman;
Tho' she bends him,
She obeys him.
Tho' she draws him,
Yet she follows;
Useless each without the other.

(from Hiawatha)

September 08, 2006 8:45 AM  
Blogger Carey said...

"Behind every great man stands a great woman." - Anonymous

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. (Romans 12:10)

September 10, 2006 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I get the connection with the quotes. ??? I actually, I don't agree. Sometimes women have little to do with a great man and it may be presumptuous to think that is the case. Feminism teaches that a woman can do things by herself. But why is it that we must assume that every time there is a great man, a woman stands behind him?

And the Haiwatha qute dd not settle well with me either. The husband/wife relationship isn't about a wife "bending" her husband like a "bow." She is to be submissive, and he is to lead. She isn't to manipulate him, but to follow him.

September 10, 2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

The bow is bent by love, she draws him by love, not by manipulation. Notice that it says she obeys and follows him. Every time you find a great man, you may not necessarily find a great woman behind him, but how much greater could many men be with Christ-loving, supportive, sacrificial women behind them?

September 12, 2006 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Chivalry is dying. I really liked the analogy of the pitcher and the teacup. I just wish some guys I know could read this!

September 18, 2006 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a female should judge a man on his personality, not his manners."

Yes, but no. More importantly, a woman should judge a man by his character. Millions of people have good personalities but NO character. It's like looking only at appearance. Doing this will only result in headache and possible failure.

October 04, 2006 3:51 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home