Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chivalry, An Obituary

A conversation with a friend led to:
"I get slightly annoyed at chivalry is dead comments, when girls talk about the past like it was some golden age where men treated women awesome cause they held the car door open or w/e."

And I'm a girl, a girl that's had more than her fair share of chival-less boys, and I get it. I get that girls want to feel special, to feel valued. (I hope you guys are taking notes. No, really. I think you should.) We want to feel like priceless treasure because that's certainly how we feel about you (forgive our pride and forget what we say out loud). Why else would we feel heartbroken when we end up feeling as valuable as dirt instead?

I digress. The point of this post is to bring the "chivalry is dead" vs. "chivalry is dying" vs. "the deterioration of chivalry is emitting noxious fumes that will turn us all into monkeys" debate to an end. Because what's really going on is the "chivalry" in that clause is no longer relevant. What these "girls" think of chivalry is men in suits and pocket squares, red lips, hands that help wasp-waisted women out of the back of 1960 Ford Falcons. Yes, ladies proceeded first and men removed their fedoras in a woman's presence, but it was also this:

Chivalry came at a price, and if you ask me to choose between a pulled out chair and the choice to be 27 and unmarried without being considered an old maid or suspected of marrying my soul to the devil -- or the choice to be anything you can imagine for yourself -- well, need I say more? Look beyond the surface folks. Because if what I get for a little tip of the hat is a grouchy despot in the morning expecting a four-course breakfast, then no thank you, sir. I wouldn't trade the present for anything.

I'm not saying that we have to pay that price now if we want the same kind of civility, but I believe this is the new question: Do you still want it? Is a pandering smile and him walking on the street side of the sidewalk because his mother "told him so" enough to satisfy you? 

Because for me, chivalry is a man who will give me his coat during the sub-zero Chicago winter because he wants to show he cares for me, and he's the same man that will be there when I impatiently switch career paths four, five, thirty times. Isn't this what we want? Not a habitual creature who is programmed to carry a woman's bags, but someone who does so because he cares. The chivalry I seek today is beyond the superficial. This is the heart of the matter. (Note: Actions speak louder than words.)

He will view me as his equal, not his baby-making coffee-maker. I want to make coffee (delicious or disgusting, I can't promise anything) for him in the mornings to show him my own brand of chivalry because I love him, not because he's a parading tyrannical oaf.

A chivalrous man will listen when I speak, digest what I say and value my opinion. And more importantly, a good man will do all of that with a complete stranger, too. Opening doors does not a good man make. Don't get it twisted.

And at the end of the day, that is who I want to come home to: the good man. The man who is chivalrous in character, not by default.

The lesson? (Anything I say, take it or leave it. We're two-cent creatures by nature.) Girls, no more romanticizing! This was the 1960s (see the above videos), and we have got it way, way better. Present-day chivalry -- there's nothing like it. And appreciate it! Nothing kills chivalry faster than ungrateful presumptions.

And guys, it's pretty simple -- show you care. I'm pretty sure that's the most valuable piece of advice an insider could ever give to you. And if you don't know how to show, ASK.

It's kind of a lame ending, but sometimes, I just have to let those slide.


Heidi said...

HAHAHAHAHA. Omg. Those videos. Best thing I've seen in forever.

"...parading tyrannical oaf" ... love that. And you. And this post.

Preach, Sister.


amen sister.