Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chivalry is not DEAD? Not Yet!

I recently took a trip Down South to Atlanta, GA to see one of my dear friend's nuptials. From the time I stepped on the plane at LaGuardia airport to the time I stepped foot back on the plane to NYC, I never lifted a solitary finger for assistance. Every door - opened. Every bag - carried. If I looked lost, it was only seconds before a man asked if I needed assistance. I even went to a place in the food court and the man in front of me asked if I would like bottled water on him. When I lived down South so many years ago, I expected everything that I just described. It was commonplace. It happened to every young woman, regardless of attractiveness or stature, everywhere, everyday. However being away from the South for so long, I felt like a superstar even though these men were only doing what they had been raised and taught to do: be a gentleman, be chivalrous. Not because women are helpless but because we are all ladies.

It's been almost 2 years since I'd been down home and during that time I lived in gritty NY. Although I grew up in nearby CT, NY is the almost the exact ooposite of any place I have ever lived when it comes to men being gentleman. It took me over 6 months to not admonish every boy or man I saw who didn't let a woman pass by, give woman a seat, open a door or hold out an umbrella on the street. Where were they raised? How were they raised?Who were they raised by, wolves? I'd ask myself that everyday. After a year, my seething anger subsided after seeing able-bodied young men sit on the train while elderly woman stood close by, hanging on to the closest railing for dear life. It was either have high-blood pressure or ignore it.

So where does chivalry exist? Definitely in the South, I'd say Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. It starts to wind down in North Carolina and Virginia where manners tend to be selective and random. Right around D.C. Maryland and P.A. it becomes scant and by the time you reach New York, you're lucky if you're not shoved by a man that's twice your size over a seat on the bus. No matter where you live,however, they do exist. But don't be fooled, there are wolves in sheeps' clothing. Below is just a few ways to find out if a man is a TRUE chivalrous gentleman or a fraud.

1)He opens and holds the door for ALL ladies.
True chivalry is not selective. It does not survey the scene for hot women or cougars nor does it look around to see if someone they may know is watching. It truly comes from within. You do it because it is simply polite and the right thing to do. I'm not suggesting any man become a doorman,not at all. Chivalry is and always has been reasonable.

2)He only enters or exits an elevator after all women and holds the elevator doors both ways.
When a gentleman is waiting with the opposite sex for an elevator, it is without question that all the women go first unless one of the women request that you enter before hand instead. Once inside, despite the floor, one of the men inside the elevator holds the elevator doors until the women exit first.

3)He carries or assists women and the elderly with luggage, bags or baby carriages without being asked or provoked by pity to do so.
As a gentleman, you don't wait for someone to ask for your assistance or struggle to the point where you have to assist otherwise you won't be able to go where you are going. Nor do you wait,hoping someone else will step up to the plate. What if it were your wife, girlfriend, aunt or grandmother who simply needed a kind hand to get into a cab,walk up the stairs or have her groceries carried for her?You would do it, right?Then be that person, don't wait and then reluctantly helpas if you were the last one out of a game of dodgeball.

4)He picks a young lady up on a date whether they walk, drive or hail a cab. He walks her from and to the door at the beginning and conclusion of the date.
I'll never forget my first date in NYC. We picked a rainy Saturday for dinner and the movies. Once he arrived, he called me on the phone, " I'm here!" he announced. I opened my door and saw no one was there.

"Are you sure?", I asked, "I just opened the door and no one was there."

"Oh, I'm in the car. It's raining.". OOOHHH.He didn't want to get wet, but if I did so, that was alright! I replied

"Didn't you bring an umbrella so that you can walk me from the door?" I asked.

"Naw, I don't think I did, at least I can't find it." It didn't stop there. Irritated but already dressed and ready to go, I walked out my front door to the car and stood there.I just knew this ninja would AT LEAST open up the car door for me. Negative. When he didn't pop out, I knocked on the car window to give him a hint. He rolled down the window slightly and said, "The door is open". Needless to say there was no second date.

5)His chivalry does not depend on gratitude for his behavior, he does it because it's the right thing to do.
Nothing gets under my skin more than guys who complain every time a female does not show undying gratitude every time he opens the door or does something chivalrous or polite. Number one: being a gentleman is not something you do for recognition and acknowledgement. People do wonderful things every day and never get thanked for them and they are okay with that. Why? Because doing good is something you do out of the goodness of your heart and because it is right,not for reward. Am I saying that women are not supposed to thank guys for opening the door or assisting them? No way. Women are just as obligated to be ladies and say thank you, but don't expect it and certainly don't be angry about if they don't. That's a HUGE tell tale sign that a true gentleman you are not. (Now, there are some deep,South men- think Gone With The Wind- who will quickly let you know that they are not to be lauded for what they are supposed to do. So if you're in the deep South, gauge the young men you encounter,it may offend them to say thank you)

6)A chivalrous man does sit while there are woman standing, anywhere, at any time, for any reason.
A couple of years ago, while commuting to NYC from CT, I boarded a train car that had very few empty seats. I was the only female that entered the car with 5 other men. I decided to stand and grabbed the nearest pole, not realizing that I was the only female not sitting in the car. Seconds after grabbing the pole, one of the men came up to me and pointed out an open seat. " No thank you" I replied. " No, please sit.", another man asked. " It's okay', I said. Moments after the words left my mouth I realized that not one of those men would take any of those empty seats until I had sat down and the men who were sitting were getting upset b/c I was making them uncomfortable just because they were. Finally realizing that I was amongst gentlemen, I knew it was my duty to be a lady and take a seat so they could do their duty as males. I quickly took the nearest seat, and quickly heard slight sounds of relief as the a few of the men were then able to sit down after me.

A lot of men want to know why they should be chivalrous in this day and age when women claim they want to be treated as equals and even refuse the few common courtesies men extend to them?  Well, why should men be chivalrous in the age feminism? I pondered this while I was in Georgia last week and tweeted my one thought on the matter: Radical feminism is the issue, not feminism itself. Chivalry is not dead, it was just knocked out by radical feminism and only needs a few good men to resuscitate it. Let's make it simple: Chivalry is simply being polite and mannerable. Chivalry does not and never has equaled male supremacy. What I mean by that is, we as women should be given every equal opportunity at work, home and government. However, we are STILL women, still have our roles to be women and should be treated as such. Equal pay and the right to vote does denote that I don't want to be treated as a lady.

Secondly, the number one and most important reason men should practice chivalry is because it FORCES women to act like ladies. I'm gonna get killed for this but here go: Men, you truly can have ANY woman you desire cook, clean, iron your shirts and not talk crap about it just by courting. It is the God fearing truth. Some women don't want you to KNOW that, others do but will make you figure it out,but there you go. No longer will you have to ask or hope she does the things you were taught women should do, you can actually make her by being a true chivalrous gentleman (taking out the garbage, bringing flowers randomly, asking her out on a date even though you're already exclusive, keeping her vehicle as well-kept as yours,etc) she will be wrapped so tight around your finger, she will not be able to see straight. I hope I don't lose my Women Power card for that........

Lastly, anthropologically speaking, there are gender roles that exist and are needed in every relationship in order for there to be balance and success within it. It doesn't denote being powerless or slave labor to our husbands or partners, it simply means we have choice. But choosing to be treated less than what we deserve was never on any agenda when we fought for our rights in the 60s and 70s. Those thoughts came from the fear that culminated over men who abused their positions. Good men don't do that. So yes, you should expect the door to be open, an umbrella to be held for you while still taking that seat as a judge on the Supreme Court. This is the power and privilege in being a woman and you should never allow anyone to take that special part of your feminism away from you or make you think you should not expect or deserve it.

My list of chivalrous actions is far from all inclusive,what other actions make a true chivalrous,gentleman?
Do you agree that men should still practice chivalry in this day and age?