The following is a guest post from a wonderfully talented writer I have had the pleasure to get to know over recent months. Her name is Kate Richlin-Zack and today she shares her views on chivalry. Take it away Kate.
If chivalry is dead, it’s because we, killed it.
It wasn’t intentional. If anything, the near extinction of chivalry was a necessary but unintended consequence of the women’s movement. Chivalry had to disappear for a while as women redefined their roles in society. It wasn’t enough to just change the big picture stuff like legislation; day to day life had to change. The world around us had to look different so people would take notice. We had to hold our own doors, pay for our own dinner, put our coats on without assistance. Our behavior had to echo our voices: “I don’t need a man.”
From a social standpoint, the feminist movement was crucial. We had to equalize women’s rights for society to prosper. And while we were proudly declaring our equality and independence, chivalry was slowly dying. Men had no choice but to step back and let us stand on our own.
But it’s gone too far. We don’t even recognize acts of chivalry anymore and personally, they confuse me. When a guy pulls out a chair, I assume he’s seating himself.
We need to bring chivalry back. We need to make it socially acceptable. We need to forget about defining gender roles for a little while and embrace the romance that we’ve been missing in recent decades. Acts of
chivalry aren’t anti-feminist; they’re simply gestures of kindness and we need to start recognizing them as such.
It possible for men to open the car door for us without it being seen as an act of sexist domination.
It is possible to find a man who instinctively kisses the back of your hand when he greets you but still admires your intelligence and career ambitions. You just need to find him and foster that behavior.
Here are three simple suggestions for reviving chivalry in the modern world:
1) Stop running around proclaiming, “I don’t need a man” if you’re looking for a boyfriend.
It’s too easy to confuse “I don’t NEED a man” with “I don’t WANT a man” and that misinterpretation can be a huge turn off. Just think how you would react if most of the men you met kept proclaiming, “I
don’t need a woman.” You’d probably turn on your heel and find someone who was willing to make a place for you in his life.
Secondly, if you’re looking for a relationship, claiming, “I don’t need a man” is a bold faced lie. While you may not be financially dependent, you should be, at least to some extent, emotionally dependent. Anyone in a happy, healthy relationship understands the value they bring. They understand what qualities their partner loves most about them and which of their many quirks brings a smile to their significant other’s face. Being in a relationship fulfills an emotional NEED. That’s not to say that you couldn’t be happy on your own, but if being in a relationship doesn’t provide at least some incremental additional happiness in your life, stay single. Everyone’s better off.
2) Don’t mistake kindness for weakness
While I’ll be the first to admit, women often can’t resist a jerk, it’s important that we don’t confuse kindness for weakness. Just because a guy displays some chivalrous tendencies does not mean he’s going to be a doormat. If anything, only guys who are incredibly confident in their masculinity will treat you better than they treat themselves. So forget the bad boy, and give nice guy a shot.
3) Be gracious and appreciative
You know the old saying: If it looks like a duck… Generally speaking, when you behave a certain way, people will treat you accordingly. This situation is no different. If you expect to be treated like a “lady,” act like one. If a man takes you out on a date and offers to pay for dinner (which he should if HE asked YOU), simply say, “thank you.” If keeping your mouth shut entirely just isn’t in your nature and you’d like to see him again, saying something like, “next time, dinner’s on me,” is a perfectly appropriate response. Just don’t haggle over splitting the check.
Remember, if you want to revive chivalry, you need to make a place for it and encourage it at every opportunity. It’s especially important that we start instilling that behavior in future generations; the little boys of today will be the gentlemen of tomorrow. And don’t worry about the impact on feminism. It’s not going anywhere and besides, we’re selling ourselves short if we’re fighting just for equality. Fight to be treated better than equal. And don’t forget, you deserve it!