Monday, November 21, 2011

If Chivalry is Dead, I don’t want to Live!

I know.  That was a little dramatic.  But here's the truth about this very independently-minded woman.   I want my husband to open the door for me on the way in to the restaurant.  When my car breaks down, I want him to drop everything and come to my rescue.  I want him to remain the knight-in-shining-armor I married - at least on occasion!  

This isn't because I’m a helpless damsel in distress.  I'm a capable, get-my-hands-dirty kind of girl.   High maintenance, I'm not.  But I want my man to show me those little gestures that won me over back when I enjoyed that glorious "girlfriend" status.   Doors opened!  Windshields scraped!  Tires inflated!  Girlfriends have the life.

I know this is what you might call having your cake and eating it too - at least that’s what some guys have said on this subject.  Because I admit it - I do want it all.  I want to be treated as an equal by men in general.  But I’m not sure we all agree on the definition of equality.

To me, equality means each human on earth has intrinsic value and potential.  It doesn’t mean I have to beat a guy at tennis or wield a pick-ax to prove my worth.  I try not to generalize any of us.  Some guys are pros at swaddling and soothing babies; some women can knock down raging fires right alongside those swarthy, strapping firemen.  (Not that I ever think about swarthy, strapping firemen, mind you!!)  But I believe men and women were created for different purposes - with different strengths to bring to the table.  Where would we be without each other?

So when hubby jumped down a ledge during a hike last week, I wanted him to turn around and offer me a hand down.  He didn’t.  Not that he’s a bad guy – and I don’t want to throw him under the bus.  He's always been my hero when it really mattered.  And no - I didn’t necessarily need his help.  But I wanted him to ask.  For me, chivalry is more about manners.  When my husband - or anyone for that matter - opens a door for me, it’s a courtesy, and I love it.   But I've always been kind of a sucker that way!

True - the practice of chivalry claims origins in knighthood.  But we can adapt some of its original code of gallantry to today’s complex world of gender politics. I don’t think its contemporary practice implies a woman needs a man to drive her car, put his jacket over a menacing puddle or lift her from a life of drudgery.  Today, chivalry translates into sheer politeness.  Sometimes heart-stopping valor.  We need some more of that in the world, if you ask me.  

Even if they rule the boardroom, I'm betting most women - single ladies and wives alike - love some tender cherishing once they kick off their heels.  (And a man who practices chivalry can often inspire his wife to shed more than her shoes.  Just saying!) 

What do you think?  Is it too confusing to guys to ask for chivalry and equality at once?  Is chivalry really dead – an antiquated notion?  What do guys really want?  My inquiring mind needs to know.

Share your perspective with me.  Meantime, I'm getting some cake.  And I plan to eat it, too.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (NIV)