Are We Killing Chivalry?
My Thoughts on why all the good man are gone, and how we can fix it.
I recognize this post might not make some people happy. We live in a world where men and women are pinned against each other. Either way I am still willing to call to light what I have seen. What I have seen is women are at fault for killing chivalry. Granted this is not the only thing at play.
Of course we know this is also a result of fatherless homes and upbringing. But I want to talk about our part in all of this. You may be wondering “How?”. Well I think it starts with us not giving men the opportunity to be chivalrous. A man would see a woman carrying a lot of stuff, and offer to carry it for her. You know how we respond? “No! I’m a strong independent woman, I don’t need a man.” While this is true. That was not what the poor guy was implying. He was trying to be kind and show you a sign of respect. That was not an attack on your strength. I’m not pointing a finger, I am at fault for this too. I was once a part of the club who denied men this opportunity, and I still do it out of habit. So what changed? Let me tell you.
I still remember the first day my sister screamed at us to wait until my brothers opened the door. She had suddenly decided to take the role of mom and train my brothers to be chivalrous. I live
in California an hour and half outside LA. I’m not used to any kind of chivalry. The closest thing I got was a bunch of Christian girls fighting over who was going to be first in the line for food. One summer I flew out to New Jersey for an internship. That is not a place you would expect to learn about chivalry, but I did. I wasn’t used to men offering to carry things for me as often as these guys did. Men opened the door for me at the church and for the first time in my life, I was walked out to my car.
I started off doing my usual “No thank you, I got this.” response. Believe me when I tell you, I watched the life drain from these men’s eyes every time I said that phrase. That’s when I realized that chivalry is an act of respect between men and women. They were showing me respect by asking to carry the huge box in my hands. I was showing them respect if I allowed them to do things for me. I think this is helpful to note. A wise man told me “Man’s sin is to do nothing, and woman’s sin is to do everything.” (Curtis Lewis) Chivalry is a direct attack on our original sin.
It forces men to do things. It forces women to step back and let someone else do something for you. At a party in New Jersey I watched the men be intentional with who was walking the girls out. At first I thought they were playing matchmaker since I am more used to that in California. I quickly realized they were sending the guys in two’s for both accountability and safety. That was the first time I realized chivalry takes a lot of intentionality. The next time I saw this chivalry was when I got back home to California. I just finished doing my doctoral interview with my pastor and the missionary agency, ABWE. After I passed the scariest interview I had ever done, we decided to go out to lunch to celebrate.
I told them I would drop something off in my car before carpooling with them. To my surprise my pastor waited for me outside the car. As I neared he asked me if I was sitting in the front or the back. I told him “the back” and he opened the door for me. I panicked, I had never had a guy open a car door for me before. What should I do? What’s the edicate? I’m ashamed to say, I reached to close the door while he closed it for me. As I rode in the car, my mind began to swirl. How did we get to this point where I am getting flustered over a car door being opened for me? It seemed so stupid that this is what we have come too.
Two months after that I flew out to Pennsylvania for missionary orientation. One night we went out together as a team. Again we carpooled to dinner. A man just finished closing the door for his wife and walked around to my car door and opened it for me. Based on what I learned from previous experience I waited a bit. The next thing I knew the guy exclaimed “oh, chivalry points!” He then closed the door. Fun fact his wife was not some wimpy woman. She was this logical business woman. A go-getter, and she played the game of chivalry well. So don’t tell me it makes women weak, she’s the toughest woman I have ever met. This man showed me respect, and I showed him respect by letting him close the door for me. He was in fact excited to earn the extra points.
This couple showed me a lot about chivalry, by pure example. I believe our biggest problem with chivalry is that we scared the men away from chivalry. I can’t tell you how often I hear women demean men. It is disgusting to listen to. Chivalry is a great equalizer, lifting up both genders. For the men it gives them the opportunity to be a “hero” or in a term I think is long forgotten “a Man”. Giving men the opportunity to be chivalrous makes them feel more like a man. Despite what society wants us to believe. This does not make women less. In fact the actions show that you are being respected. This lends a hand to what it does for women. God made men with a need to protect and women with the need to feel safe. Chivalry allows for both to happen without things getting weird.
So to all my fellow women out there. Stop stealing this necessary opportunity from men. It grieves me every time I realize I stole an opportunity from a guy. I’ve denied an offer for a coat because I was afraid of what others would think. I’ve opened doors and walked girls out to their cars because guys weren’t. They can’t walk the girls out if I’m doing it for them. Remember a woman’s sin is to do everything. I’ve even offered a girl my coat in front of a guy who could have easily done that. Stop taking the opportunity to grow from men. I understand it’s hard to break this habit, especially in christian culture. You get so used to being nice, that you deny an offer of a chair. Why? We don’t want to take a chair because we are being nice. We couldn’t be more wrong.
When I was in my first year of highschool I was waiting in the kitchen of my church. We just finished singing in the choir and were playing card games. I was zoned out when I realized all eyes were on me. Apparently one of the guys had offered their chair to me. I came back to reality as he said “It’s disrespectful to deny a chair when offered.” I was so embarrassed, but I learned a great lesson that day. Take the chair! If a guy is offering you a chair he is showing you respect. So, show him respect and take the dang chair! I think I called chivalry a game earlier, but in reality it is a tool. One of my favorite passages of the bible is in Hebrews. Hebrews 3:13 says “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deception… ”
I’ve been the victim of sin’s deception, and have become bitter about many things. God has been good to me and has softened my hardened heart. Yet because of that I want no one else to fall prey to sin’s deception. I look for any way I can to encourage those in my life. Chivalry is a tool I use with my guy friends to encourage them. Give them the opportunity to be a hero. Let them know if they make you feel safe. That will make them feel more like a man and in turn become more like a man.. Just be careful, it can also make them fall in love with you and that’s not the point i’m trying to make. Unless that’s what you’re hoping for… then by all means go ahead.
If I can be frank Christian churches could also play a part in all of this. I don’t know about you but being in Christian environment made me less accepting of chivalry. I was afraid if anyone saw me wearing a guy’s coat or if I took his chair, they would think I was in love with him. I want to change this. Can we use chivalry as a tool to encourage men to be men? If a guy likes you, he should say so and ask you out. I can’t stand this weird limbo thing that happens in Christian culture. All I’m trying to say is chivalry is not only an act of love. Chivalry should be normal, that’s the whole point. If we want men to be chivalrous, stop making it a thing about love. I have had a few men agree to this. The reason they don’t walk girls out to their car is because they didn’t want the girl to get the wrong idea. The wrong idea wouldn’t happen if we made chivalry normal and were forward with our interest. Believe me no one gets flirting. It’s too easily confused with people being nice.
Chivalry is a tool! Don’t believe me? Let me tell you a story.There were a few times in my life when I watched my dad begin to crumble under the wait he was carrying. I started asking my dad to help me study my bible and asking for wisdom. I wrote him letters, encouraging him while at work and filling his love tank. More importantly I made sure he knew I respected him and that I felt safe with him. I tell you this because we have a lot of power in making men rise to the occasion. I watched him become strong once more, and all I had to do was treat him like the man he is. Let’s start by building men up. Not with fake praise, or false hero moments. Be genuine and honest if you see something say something. If I see a guy friend do well with the Sunday school lesson I tell them. If they do something you respect, tell them. I think you fet the point.
There is this song called “I Need A Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. She starts the song off singing
“Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the streetwise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed
Late at night, I toss and I turn
And I dream of what I need
I need a hero..”
Bonnie Tyler is making the same point as the people who ask if chivalry is dead. “Where have all the good men gone?” We killed them, that’s what happened to all the good men. Proverbs 21:19 says “It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.” I watch it all the time, women make comments or do something and I watch the guys shoulder drop. Their faces grow long and they stop being a man. Girls, we have the power to make a man be a man. Stop being prideful and let him help you. All those things you complain about men, could change if you gave them an opportunity to rise. There are good men out there, we’re just killing them.
Thanks for reading my small little blurb. If you have anything to add to this or questions, please share in the comments below.