Continuing with virtues – today’s topic: Chivalry.
Could it be that we, as modern-day women believe that chivalry is indeed dead? Or is it that we’ve become so jaded (or as we often prefer to label it ‘independent’), that we don’t notice that some gentlemen still exist? Or do you not associate the adage of Manners maketh the man to be chivalry? I’m going to use practical examples from my life, but I’m curious to hear your views, so please leave a comment, if you’d like.
Me? I’ve always been a hopeless romantic, and a giver. A believer of idealistic fairy tales, with their proverbial knights in shining armour.
As a result, I’ve been burned, more times than I care to admit and honestly, cynicism and bitterness had crept into my heart, but I had two choices – allow it to poison me and become hateful or continue to hope and believe that not every man is a bad egg. So, when my friend, Frank replied to my Facebook poll that chivalry is an underrated virtue, it struck a chord the starry-eyed dreamer within me, because I actively started looking for chivalry in my day-to-day dealings with the men in my life – whether family members, colleagues or friends.
I’m ashamed to admit, that I experience chivalry every day but that I hadn’t noticed it because of my own unrealistic idea of what it should be. I’m not going to lie and say I’m not a hearts and flowers girl, because I am. I want those tokens of romance, but I’d much rather have a man walk on the outside of the sidewalk when I’m with him to ensure my safety (because if you know me, you’ll know that I trip over thin air and am likely to get hit by a real car!), or help me carry my parcels when I’ve been grocery shopping.
Most of the senior management at the company I work for, is well, senior, and male. Whenever any of the female staff walk out of a room, one of the men will open the door and they will all wait until the ladies have exited the room, or if one of the ladies has been asked to make coffee for guests, and is carrying the tray, our management will stand up and one will take the tray from us. That’s a chivalrous gesture, not so? Also, in the seven years I’ve been here, I’ve not heard any of the men talk to the women in a disrespecting tone of voice.
For a short season in my life I had a friend, William – eleven years my junior, the eldest of three brothers, from good stock. Whenever he would come to visit, or we’d go out, he would make a point of pouring my alcoholic beverages for me, because, as he’s been raised, a woman doesn’t pour her own booze, and she doesn’t ever pour booze for a man – her husband or not. Even his youngest brother, a high school junior abides by this rule. It was something tough for me to deal with, because I am after all, capable of unscrewing a bottle cap, finding ice in the fridge and pouring my own drink, but in their book of chivalry, that’s not the way it is supposed to be. One thing that he never fails to do (which some of my guy friends also do) is open the car door for a woman. Even when I’d visit at his parents and everyone would walk out to the car to bid me goodnight, he would take my car key, unlock the driver’s door, and open the door for me. Again, a small gesture, but chivalrous nonetheless, and one that gets noticed when it no longer is done, as if often the case when the guy has got the girl, and feels there is no longer a need to impress her.
One of the sweetest, most chivalrous gestures in my book is a man helping a lady into her jacket, or if she doesn’t have one at hand, offering her his when she is cold. I personally almost never have anything warm with me, because I don’t get cold, but when offered a jacket, I will graciously accept, because it shows that the man I’m out with is more than just well-mannered; it shows that he is willing to sacrifice his own comfort for mine.
Almost every year, a friend of mine from Cape Town, Jack, comes to visit for my birthday if he’s in the country. He’ll pick me up, open the car door for me, take me out for a meal at a restaurant of my choice, where he’ll pull my chair out, and we’ll have a good catch-up. At the end of the evening, he will walk me to my door and see to it that I’m safely inside. Again, no ostentatious gestures, but small things that are kind and gentlemanly.
I will also concede to the gallant gents out there, that women (and I know I’m generalizing here, ladies – don’t get your panties in a twist) don’t always make it easy for you either. To give a practical example: Who pays the dinner bill when you’re out, whether as friends, or more? The reason I pose this question is because I have been in relationships where I’ve pretty much fit the bill every time, and as a result, I’m super-mindful of not wanting to be that kind of person. I’m also aware that some of the guy-friends I go out with, earn more than I do, and are happy to pay for a meal, or drinks, but on some level I want to reciprocate. Maybe it’s misguided pride from my side, I don’t know, but it is who I am. I’ve had this discussion with my mate, Charlie and he gets it; he appreciates that I’m willing to put my hand in my pocket, but to some men, it may be perceived as an insult.
In closing, I think a great deal of the ‘problem’ with us as women, is that we often expect huge, grand gestures, instead of seeing the little things, which are the ones that in fact matter the most.
A man offering you his jacket every time you’re out, and it’s cold, is worth way more than a bunch of flowers once in a blue moon.