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)


  1. Think this is your best post yet! And to think, I asked my now husband to NOT open doors for me when we were dating. What was I thinking? At least on this one, I think Tony is way trainable :)

  2. What a quandry you have put us men into it truly chivalry AND equality or is it chivalry OR equality? I realize that is the thesis of your discussion here. The challenge you pose is more like trying to catch an arrow shot from a bow out of the air. Sometimes you time it just right and look become the instant hero that catches it and other times it becomes a near mortal wound, yet your timing and the thought put into it are less than a fraction of a second apart. In both outcomes substantial forethought, practice and concern are involved yet with only a MINOR change in calculation you can instantly be perceived in completely different ways. Yes, damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    What is the solution you ask...most guys are pretty consistent emotionally (at least that's what my wife says), yet we are also very simple. (If chivalry = removal of more than shoes = we become chivalrous) The hard part for you is that you need to TELL US OUT LOUD what you want. "Tony, it would be great if you opened the door for me when we go out to dinner with friends." The HARDER part is this...if the situation changes AT ALL, men DO NOT translate to the new situation from the old so you must restate your NEW request. "Tony, it would be great if you opened the door for me when we go out to dinner." See, there was a VERY subtle change that women will use for their open forum on demeaning of their husbands and from your way of thinking completely justified. From our delta brainwaves, there was almost no connection between the two requests. We would be happy to have opened the door for you in either situation but the 'game' was not clear to us and we feel absolutely no wrong occurred and therefore don't understand your reaction after or why you are telling all your girlfriends about it.

    Equality is just a fine line from the chivalrous and is usually requested because the woman is a uber professional and driven b*^ch or has been married for a long time and is sick of their husband trying to get their shoes removed all the time. You can define equality, but until little boys are told it's ok to hit girls (no I'm not condoning this) true equality will not happen.

    To put a bow on this (that we men can hope to remove with our teeth), we only ask you to be clear in OUR language, not yours. No matter how long we study and cram for this exam, we will never understand "How to Speak Woman for Dummies" book. Instead we will just keep trying to catch that damn arrow every time...OUCH!

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