Oh Chivalry! My handsome son is Super Chivalry Man! At 9 years old, we were sitting at a restaurant enjoying dinner with my family. Through a window, my son Matt saw a lady pushing a stroller outside coming toward the entrance of the restaurant. He got up and walked over to the door without saying a word. I asked, “Matt! Where ya goin’ handsome?” And nothing, he was out of earshot. I got up to chase after him, but was frozen by what he did next. He went outside, held the door for the lady and she almost cried at his chivalry. What a man. He calmly walked back to the table and resumed eating. I really did teach him well. Yay MATT!!!
The definition of Chivalry is: 1) qualities of an ideal knight such as honor, courage, loyalty, consideration for others, especially women. 2) chivalrous behavior, considerate and courteous behavior especially shown by a man toward a woman. I love the etymology of this as well. I shall share my knowledge! For sharing is nice. J It comes from Old French chevaleros which means “knightly and noble.” Chevalier is French for Knight. The word was used from the 14th Century all the way until the mid-16th Century, and then it just kind of disappeared. UNTIL…. It’s triumphant return in the late-18th Century in English by romance writers who were fond of the ways of the Chevalier’s treatment of women.
Here’s my take on why Chivalry was repressed. With the women’s liberation movement, we started opening doors ourselves. What? We can do that? For sure! OMG!!! WE CAN VOTE AND TALK? What? So we started getting more and more independent and soon some of us started sending the message that we want equal pay! We can do anything men can do! Even pee standing up now, (…I know, but they made this device that is in stores now!) We started becoming teachers and doctors and even astronauts and mechanics and rockstars. AND… single mothers. We taught our daughters that we need to stand up for ourselves. (Yet strangely, we never taught them how to be leaders – good strong leaders with awesome leadership skills) And the downfall of chivalry began.
I used to work in a wellness centre at a high school here in Calgary. There was talk about having an etiquette class, which made me think, how come we don’t use our manners and where did chivalry go? Everything is “Can you get this for me?” or “What’s for supper?” or “Do your homework” or “Pass me that thing” and so on. Even on commercials, “Buy this!” Not “Please” or “Thank you!” So it was in my ponderings that we should have a manners/chivalry class for the guys and gals in that school. I started just casually asking the guys for reasons they didn’t hold the doors open, and how come they spit so much? Their response was along the lines of,
When we hold the doors open for girls or pick up their stuff after they dropped it or pull out their chairs, sometimes they snap at us and say, “I can open the door myself!” or act awkward like they don’t know what to do when we pull their chairs out.”
We are scared to do that because they will go all ‘women’s lib‘ on us…
I don’t know why I spit so much…(well, it’s gross)
It was true. I challenged these guys to act with chivalry for a little while, and in the classes for girls I facilitated, I asked that they say “thank you” whenever a guys does something nice for them. Appreciate their efforts – and appreciate yours in thanking the guys. It was interesting to see – guys being chivalrous and girls being appreciative of them. It is now a part of an amazing and unique program that the not-for-profit organization that I work for, offers. Really cool stuff (look for the link soon!)
Now – my handsome son, Matthew. He’s 11. As far back as I can remember, this handsome boy of mine has always been a gentleman. He takes me out on dates and offers his arm with me. He pulls out our chairs (my daughter, mother, grandmother – whoever), he holds the doors open. He calls me “beautiful momma” and his newest compliment, “sweetie.” That one made both me and my daughter grin when he called us that. LOL! He will stand at any door for as long as he needs to so that he can hold the door for anyone coming through. Men, women, kids, whoever. He’s amazing. And he has inspired several parents to instill this wonderful trait into their children. I am so proud when I see him in the middle of an act of chivalry.
I wonder if people are too disconnected with their sense of community and social responsibility to be polite and act with honor and chivalry. Was he too busy returning an email while he walked through the office building door to notice that someone behind him had their arms full and the door slammed in that person’s face? Was she too busy texting her friends about what “jane was wearing” to notice the person in a rush behind them when the elevator doors closed? Perhaps we have just become so rushed or selfish that we don’t even consider it anymore.
Did you know that we are very nearly, but not quite, born with the desire to help people? A study at an Infants Cognition Centre at one of the most respected universities in the world states that infants can almost always recognize when someone is in need of assistance and will instinctively offer a hand? How? I have no idea, but that’s what it says. It’s later on in life we develop the self-centred and even narcissistic characteristics that have, in my opinion, have been integral in what I like to call, Chivalrepression. LOL!
Chivalry is about service. How can we be of service to our community? How can we act with more manners, honor, integrity and honesty, justice and ethicality? Not telling – but if you want, I can coach you! J
The next time you act in a chivalrous manner, pay attention to how it makes you feel. J Maybe you just made someone’s day better!
Thanks again for reading my blog!