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jcknight's avatar

why is chivalry dead?

Asked by jcknight (79points) October 6th, 2007 from iPhone

My friend,Jen believes chivalry is dead, and it got me to thinking if it is dead, why exactly? I of course dont think its dead, but im a guy so apparently my thought doesnt count. Whats your opion on the matter?

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19 Answers

GD_Kimble's avatar

I think the playing field has just become littered with many complicated obstacles. As we rocket along through the early part of the 21st century many things traditionally thought of as chivalry now (rightly or wrongly) often cross wires with sexism.. or at the very least insensitive behavior. Many of the things that I was brought up with as a native southerner, things that I still do, are at their heart- predicated on the notion of women being incapable of doing said things (safely/properly). For example: the tradition of always being on the downward slope of a staircase when accompanying a woman- going up, the man trails behind- going down, he leads. This of course, is so you can catch her if she falls. Now, high heels or no, this somehow assumes that women are more likely to mishandle the simple activity of traversing a staircase.
In eras past this would make sense, as women were thought of as the fairer, weaker sex.. but now in the era of “sisters are doing it for themselves”, I think “chivalry” may have a slight whiff of condescension.
Now having said all that, I still open doors for the ladies, I never extend my hand to a woman to shake unless she offers hers first, I always place myself while walking between the lady and traffic, and I offer my seat on the subway to standing women.
It’s not a value judgment. It’s just how I roll.
But I find myself doing it less, or at least think twice beforehand, each time I get lectured by a woman who feels I’ve demeaned her by holding a door open. Again, I don’t mean it as a value judgment , and while I truly do see women’s concerns about the kinds of out-dated attitudes “chivalrous” behavior MAY nurture, my intent isn’t to hold them down with the shackles of the patriarchy.. I’m just trying to be polite.
I think many men these days find themselves in a similar predicament: finding the balance between traditional social morays and progressive (for lack of a better word) attitudes…. and trying to figure out where chivalry fits in.

rictic's avatar

Of course, when you’re wearing a corset that constricts your breathing to the point that passing out is a serious concern, any thoughtful companion would watch out for you as you go up and down stairs.

jdb's avatar

“Chivalry” is derived from a French word meaning “horse rider”. Horse-riding was a core skill for knights and war horse ownership essential, but the word is more famous for its use as a metaphor for knightly conduct: their skilled horsemanship for their self-control and courtly love. The “Gentleman” ideal retains much from chivalry.

Society has also retained the morality chivalry is derived from. A lot of speculation has been made over the source of morality, but codified morality such as chivalry or a “gentlemanly code” has generally given way to “custom”; notions such as politeness/kindness are much vaguer than the textbook rules chivalry commanded. The lack of clear moral definition in a more permissive society allows for greater freedom of behavior without social repercussions.

That the class distinctions supporting knighthood have been for the most part dissolved has also affected the relevance of chivalry in the 21st century. Chivalry was essentially a job description for knighthood!

hossman's avatar

I don’t feel chivalry is dead, merely diminished as fewer people are trained to be chivalrous. The few times I am upbraided by a woman for opening a door, I tell her I would have done the same if she was male (which is true). Many of these traditional gestures I view a bit differently, not as protection because women were somehow weaker or less capable, but rather the man gallantly accepting hurt/abuse/discomfort, etc. as his GIFT to the woman. Thus, the man walks on the curb side of the sidewalk, so spattered mud would hit the man and protect the woman. If someone wishes to refuse my gift, fine, it doesn’t diminish the gift. My conduct, ultimately, says more about me than the person to whom it is conveyed.

I also don’t know why we focus on the chivalry extended to women and not that we should be extending to men as well. Chivalrous concepts like honor, fair dealing, not beating someone when they’re down, helping them up, no trash talk.

jdb mentioned “courtly love.” That is a part of chivalry that is ignored but has diminished more than any other. Why can’t we appreciate the beauty in each other without making it about sex? Why does our culture portray sex as the most important part of a relationship? Why can’t we live above our sex drives? The conduct of so many of us has become no better than a rutting goat. In some ways, we have not advanced since the Middle Ages, we have regressed.

Supergirl's avatar

Men are afriad to be chivalrous because their actions may be construed as mysoginistic. Kids are not taught to be chivalrous. I see this, as a teacher, all the time. Same goes with manners and etiquette. It is very sad to me.

itsnotmyfault1's avatar

The most popular answers here are: not taught it, women are much stronger, and that it’s out-dated.
That’s probably true, but i think that we’re ignoring something important
Demographic change. When i think of chivalry, i think of knights and nobility. Whether this is accurate… well, i’m too lazy to look into that.
But today’s society has a much larger middle class. Did the middle class have chivalry back then?

tw0k1ngs's avatar

It is as simple as this: Nice guys finish last.

People don’t care about “chivalry” anymore… it has evolved… into “pimpage”.

itsnotmyfault1's avatar

Nice guys finish last: so true

hossman's avatar

I agree that bad guys always finish first, largely due to their inability to stick to anything. I myself have found that finishing last is frequently not a bad thing. I frequently make it my hobby to ensure bad guys don’t finish at all, or sometimes, that they never even get a chance to start. Finishing first is overrated, sometimes IT IS how you play the game, not where you finish.

ezraglenn's avatar

My girlfriend never pays for anything, it’s SO irritating.

nerfmissile's avatar

”...but im a guy so apparently my thought doesnt count.”

What is up with men falling so willingly asleep and silent on the issue of gender in the modern world? Apparently my thought doesn’t count, so it shouldn’t exist, so I don’t have an opinion, so I’ll do whatever I’m told, o Fearsome Amazon Princess. Not only is the fashion of groveling even more disgusting to women than it is to men, but it’s done all the time! Willingly! By most “normal” men.

Let’s review the bidding on chivalry. I think we got a little confused earlier about the definition. Here’s the

The qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women.

In other words, self-sacrifice or servitude toward women. Going out of one’s way or inconveniencing oneself to be brave ( take a bullet ), courteous ( give up one’s place in line ), honorable ( refuse to cheat even if she does ) and gallant ( a man exceptionally attentive to women ).

IMHO, chivalry went out with women’s suffrage. And it’s gone out a few more times since then. Today, women are the more powerful gender. Not only do they wear pants, spit and drive truck, but they also get much lighter sentences for the same crimes, maternity leave, never have to register for the vote, receive superior medical care and research, have their own curriculum at every major college and university, receive more funding and special attention for education and, indeed, live 6+ years longer than men in the West.

Yes, it’s weird that any sentient being would even consider chivalry to be pertinent when it now represents servitude to a superior class of people—exactly the sort of thing that a supposed democracy abhors. But it’s weirder still that we can’t really blame women for this because this losing situation is all self-inflicted. Men decide to neglect themselves, their own issues and their own voice.

It is men who think to themselves : ” ... but I’m a guy so apparently my thought doesn’t count.” And no one is amused by this. And everyone loses.

Related Facts

nerfmissile's avatar

*never have to register for the draft, sorry

Zaku's avatar

Interesting perspective, nerfmissile.

Not that I disagree, but I would say that the word chivalry doesn’t need to bear the brunt. Seems to me a man can conceive and live chivalry in a way that doesn’t include becoming a groveling knave. Bravery doesn’t need to be self-sacrifice, but strength in the face of challenges. Courtesy doesn’t need to mean putting others first. Honor includes not accepting abuse from others. Gallantry doesn’t need to be slavish.

I do recognize your characterizations as things men often do these days. I mean to say I don’t think the term chivalry is the actual culprit.

nerfmissile's avatar

… oh, and I forgot about affirmative action and more favorable representation in the media.

Captain_Tetanus's avatar

Despite the name I am a 29 year old woman.

With chivalry women give up a little bit. When a man feels he must open every door for you and such it seems to help him put the woman into the category of “woman” which can carry with it all kinds of negative ideas such as hysterical, emotional, nonsensical, less intelligent, needs my protection, and more. It can serve as a go ahead to treat her like a silly woman without a thought in her pretty little head. I see this in older men especially. We’re only like one generation from the time when women were truly thought to have puny ineffective brains. How many people out there still think that I wonder.

Also, it leaves an imbalace in a relationship between a man and a woman. All night he’s giving her little gifts of open doors and pulled out chairs and such. What is she giving in return?

It’s like Christmas day and she’s giving him a pack of gum and he’s giving her a DVD player. He may not expect anything more, but she might feel strange about it. Or he might expect more.

Many guys act funny if the girl holds the door for him.

Also, do you know how awkward it is to be with a guy who really wants to open your car door for you? It’s sweet, but I don’t wear slippery shoes and dresses to trip me so I don’t need help to get in or out of the car. And I feel like a jerk waiting for him to come open a door I can open myself. If I open it myself there’s often the “I would’ve gotten it for you.” comment.

Chivalry isn’t really dead it’s just undergoing a painful change. Seems to me that since women no longer need men to do most of those things that were once considered chivalrous, perhaps some new chivalry could be in order. I think it’s chivalrous when a man does dishes. It’s thoughtful. It’s something I can and will do, but that I don’t want to do. He is choosing to burden himself with an undesireable task for my benefit.

I was with a couple and we were walking at a national park. They walked through mud and it stuck to the bottom of our shoes. He grabbed a twig and carried it until we got back to the car. He then opened the door and asked her to sit, took her shoes and cleaned the mud off. He foresaw a need and took the opportunity to fill it. That is chivalry.

I cleaned mine off on grass, but she wasn’t the sort who walked through mud often and he knew she would be unable to help herself in this area.

Perhaps couples should talk about this so no one feels weird about it. I’d hate to be a guy tryign to figure out whether I shuld open the door or not, wondering if his girl is angry about it. But it sucks to be a girl trying to be girly enough to be attractive and not scare a guy off, but trying to maintain her own feeling of self worth. It doesn’t need to be this complicated, but it is.

nerfmissile's avatar

Poop Master:

It’s not chivalrous when men do dishes or wipe mud off the bottom of womens’ feet. That’s servitude, and it’s what modern appliances and tools are for. And just between you and me, I have every faith that your theoretical muddy-shoe girl would be able to help herself in that area. If you feel you need chivalry in your life, then hire the help you feel you need.

aaronblohowiak's avatar

the pursuit of gender equality lead to the dilution of gender roles by some branches feminism.

chivalry is dead, and women killed it.

attentiveness alone is not chivalry, mind you.

shf84's avatar

Lets hope the monster of chivalry is dead that we have killed it once and for all. It was a vile and disgusting tradition that placed roles on people based on the shape of their body ignoring their individuality. Chivalry was patronizing to women assuming that a woman can’t open a fucking door for herself is degrading to say the least.

talljasperman's avatar

Because women don’t need to be saved constantly any more. They have their own money, and some know self defence.

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