I like chivalry.
Yes, I admit it. I know I’m not supposed to, but I actually like it when men open doors for me, and take my coat, and do all of those other little things that modern feminism says I should find horrifying and offensive. I know it’s supposed me make me feel belittled and patronized, but instead I find it makes me feel special, and feminine, and even protected and somehow treasured.
Is that so wrong?
I get their thinking—that doing little things for women implies that we are incapable of doing them for ourselves. And so, chivalry has been called “benevolent sexism,” with those nice men stooping down to assist us helpless little women-folk.
If that’s what chivalry really was, I’d resent it, too. But that’s not how I see it. Sure, I’m perfectly capable of opening my own doors. But I see it as a sign of respect—for me and for women in general—when a man does that for me. It is an acknowledgement of the politically incorrect truth that men in general are physically stronger than women. By putting that strength at the service of women, a man is signaling that he respects her, and that he has no intention of using it against her.
I have been, I hate to admit, afraid that chivalry is indeed dead—or at least slowly dying. I still see it here are there, mostly among older gentlemen and the younger ones who were raised by those who still care about such things. But for the most part, I see young women charging through doors with an “I can do it myself” attitude, and young men who don’t even comprehend why they would bother reaching out to women in this way.
But then I read in an article in The Atlantic (of all places) calling for a return to chivalry. It quotes Pier Massimo Forni, the founder of the Civility Institute at Johns Hopkins University, as saying that chivalry is “a form of preferential treatment that men once accorded to women generations ago, inspired by the sense that there was something special about women, that they deserve added respect, and that not doing so was uncouth, cowardly and essentially despicable.”
So men are not chivalrous because women are incapable. Men are chivalrous because women are special—because while we lack commensurate physical strength, we are created in the image and likeness of God, and endowed with a special gift for bringing forth and nurturing new life. And men respect that by respecting us.
The article also said this about the modern climate: “Perhaps because of women’s ambivalence about chivalry, men have grown confused about how to treat women. Will holding doors open for them or paying for the first date be interpreted as sexist? Does carrying their groceries imply they’re weak? The breakdown in the old rules, which at one extreme has given rise to the hookup culture, has killed dating and is leaving a lot of well-meaning men and women at a loss.”
I agree. I think both chivalry and dating, while not technically dead, are on life support at this point. And both men and women suffer from the resulting confusion.
And so, as for myself, I want the record to show that I am unequivocally pro-chivalry.