Monday, February 15, 2010

Where Did The Chivalry Go?

Is chivalry dead? I’ve heard this saying for some time now and I wonder if it’s true.

Is opening a car door, opening an entrance door, the holding of an elevator door, or offering up a seat a lost art? What about the woman walking on the inside of the street? Or facing the entrance door of a restaurant when it comes to seating? Are these antiquated notions created by medieval practices that are no longer relevant?

Even if they are, I like the idea of chivalry. I like when a man shows that he respects a woman as an equal yet behaves like a gentleman.  I've always been very vocal about that, so chivalry has never been a problem when it comes to dating. But in every day life, I think it's almost nonexistent.

On my way to work every morning, I’m always surprised when a man holds the elevator open for me, which is in stark contrast to the men that shove past me on the subway to grab the first seat.

During my daily commute, it is often other women who offer pregnant women or elderly people a seat on the train.  I usually offer the seat and look at the men with scorn yelling at them in my brain, “you should be ashamed of yourself.” But they don’t hear the yelling in my brain. And they’re probably not ashamed.

However there are times when men muster the courage to offer a seat on the train. During those times I smile broadly, thinking, “Good Job!!!” But why does it take courage to be chivalrous? I often ask myself, did feminism take away chivalry?

I demand to be treated like an equal, but I also like to be treated like a princess. Is it too much to want it both ways? Are women confusing men with this push and pull? My boyfriend Che knows how to balance it well. He knows that I value my identity as an independent woman and that I can handle whatever comes my way. At the same time, he still offers his help to carry a bag, open a door and waits for me to sit first. He knows I like that. What’s his reward? I return the favor. But maybe I'm the last of a dying generation.

Do women currently reject traditional role-playing when it comes to dating? Or is it just a matter of personal taste? I wonder how difficult is it for single ladies? And for women in relationships – did the chivalry die after the courting ended? Is that why we have a slew of selfish men on the subways?

As women, we want help but we don’t always need help. We want men to offer to pay, even though we can afford to pay. We want the man to offer their seat, even when we decline it. We want men to make the first move and act “like a man,” but at the same time we reject machismo. Is having it both ways too much for men to handle?

What do you think?