I started writing this, fully intending for it to be a long, well thought out essay. But then I ended up with this brief, run-on sentence of a thought.
Chivalry in America, as an idea, has had a hard time clawing its way into our modern society, at least in certain regions. A concept that was born in the mindset that women were delicate flowers who needed coddled and tended to is not one that every individual will be quick to accept, and for good reason. The only way for this archaic behavior to remain similar to its former self and still somehow acceptable is for the thoughts behind the actions to change.
As chivalry finds itself in desperate need of a conceptual modernization, we need to reflect on the healthy and logical ways to carry it out. Women are not to be marginalized by our courtesies as men, and as men we should not be chivalrous simply because we expect something in return. We should be chivalrous because women are strong, empowered, and deserve our respect and thought. Polite formalities such as taking a lady’s coat, or pulling out her chair, paying for a meal, or simply opening and holding a door (which should by no means be gender specific), are ways for us as men to tell the women in our lives that they are honored and cared for.
Old chivalry basically says that women need men to do things for them because they are physically or mentally incapable of doing them themselves. Wrong. Obviously. This is the thought process that gets chivalrous gestures balked at. Modern chivalry needs to firmly root itself in the understanding that men do these things not because women cannot, but simply so they don’t have to. These actions should never be used to belittle, and if they make any woman around you uncomfortable, there’s one simple solution. Stop it.