The damsel in distress is trapped in the tower of the evil emperor’s castle. Her only hope for survival is the prince, her knight in shining armor who will climb up the tower to rescue his princess and carry her off into the sunset. And drum roll, please here he comes, gallivanting his way to the castle. He jumps over the moat, climbs the tower, lifts her up over his shoulder, and props her onto the horse. He slays the dragon and the happy couple are whisked away into the glimmering night sky.
Nowhere in this fairytale did the princess say, “I can get onto the horse myself, thank you very much,” nor did the knight say “Hey baby, let’s go back to my place and have some fun.”
once upon time…
This fairytale analogy isn’t intended to be nostalgic, it’s meant to point out the difference between the old-fashioned days of chivalry, and how it has evolved today.
I recently posed the question, “Is chivalry dead?” and received an overwhelming amount of responses on the topic. Everything from “chivalry is alive and kicking” to “it’s alive but on life support,” was mentioned. Whatever the case, it’s evident that the chivalry of today exists in a different form.
Let’s take a look at how chivalry has changed, how it affects dating today, and what this means to us.
Chivalry used to connote the characteristics of knighthood. It meant being courteous to women and being gallant. But in the days of Destiny’s Child crooning about Independent Women , and women believing that they can live without men, it’s hard for guys to realize that ladies do want to be treated like princesses.
And I don’t blame men for thinking that women want to be treated like strong, independent people, because they are. Men are faced with a double standard where they know women want to be swept off their feet, and want and expect men to make the first move, but at the same time, they preach that they are strong and can be single for the rest of their lives.
What men don’t understand is that women want to be treated well, and want to be placed up on a pedestal. This treatment does not lessen their strength or independence, but it’s up to women to show that they want this treatment.
no, after you
This brings me to an important point about chivalry. It was mostly men who responded and offered insight on this topic. Many men have stated that although they believe in chivalry, they feel they are making futile attempts at being courteous when their actions go unnoticed and unappreciated by females.
On one hand you have a woman who waits for the man to walk ahead of her and open the door, while on the other you have the gentleman who does open the door for her, only to have his date shout at him that she doesn’t need his help.
Do women really want you to be chivalrous or better yet, is she worth it?
the times are a changin’
While I mentioned that women dream of the days of old-fashioned movies where a kiss was enough to extinguish lust, the man would lift his loved one up the winding staircase and help his lady put on her coat. Women, however, must understand that they can’t have their cake and eat it too.
The women depicted in these films were also forced to stay at home and tend to the house and children, proving that the times are just plain different in every respect.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for old-fashioned romance and chivalry; it just goes to show that the concept of chivalry has changed with the times. Chivalry now means being kind and courteous to anyone, regardless of if we are romantically interested in them or not. This means helping the older woman carry her groceries to her car, or even simple things such as saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes.
Unfortunately, kindness to strangers has become a rarity, with people slamming doors in people’s faces, and pushing in line at the checkout counter — and both men and women are guilty of this. Because common courtesy doesn’t exist as much anymore, it makes us suspicious when we do receive kind gestures from others, and we assume kindness is part of someone’s ulterior motives.
where has chivalry gone?
At the risk of sounding like a sociology textbook, let’s take a look at why the presence of chivalry may have disintegrated today:
Technology seems to be the scapegoat of all our problems, but it helps to explain why we seem to be in our own little bubble on a daily basis. The days of personal letters (scented with your lover’s perfume) are long gone, and rather than step foot into our neighbor’s cubicle at work, we send an e-mail to ask a simple “How do you do?” The smaller the world becomes and the easier it is to communicate, the less we reach out to others personally and the more we tend to want to stick to ourselves.
2. Self-centered attitudes
I don’t want to sound jaded and cynical about mankind, but society has become more self-absorbed and self-centered, especially when it comes to strangers.
is she worth it?
A common fallacy among men and women is that chivalry is one-sided, which means that a woman can also take the initiative and do something chivalrous for her man, especially since the times have changed. You want to put yourself out for a woman who is worthy of such royal treatment, since this says a lot about her personality.
The problem is that it’s hard to tell whether or not the woman you are stressing over deserves your efforts of chivalry. Here’s how to tell if your lady can also be a gentle wo man:
- – If you open the car door for her and she unlocks your door once she’s inside.
- – She offers to split the bill at the fancy restaurant you went to for dinner (or even better, she pays for it once in a while — if she doesn’t pay for it, she pays for your movie ticket after dinner).
- – She surprises you with that CD you’ve been talking about or sends you flowers at work.
- – She brings you over chicken soup when you’re feeling under the weather.
- – She shows how appreciative she is of your actions and recognizes how lucky she is.
Chivalry isn’t about getting things in return, it’s about being recognized to a degree for your actions and knowing that the person you are with will also treat you right. Chivalry is a two-way street, in which you shouldn’t be taken for a ride.
happily ever after…
So what’s the solution to all of this? As chivalry now means being kind to everyone, the best thing to do is just be yourself. Act normal, and don’t try to be too chivalrous or the woman you’re pining over will see right through your act. The truth is, if she isn’t appreciative, then she’s probably not someone you’ll want to invest your time in. If you like her, then you will automatically put her on a pedestal without realizing it.
And once she’s on that pedestal as high as the castle tower — where you are the only one to rescue her — she will look out for the knight in shining armor in you.