I would like to make clear from the very start that I am only commenting about the general population of men, not every man in America. The following are two definitions of chivalry and one of chivalrous:
Chivalry: the qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women
Chivalry: the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, esp. courage, honor, justice, and a readiness to help the weak
*Courteous behavior, esp. towards women
Chivalrous: marked by gracious courtesy and high-minded consideration especially to women
A prominent question that has been milling around on the internet and day to day life is: Is chivalry dead? Just the other day, I had gotten in line behind a man at the post office. When the next person in line was asked to go to the next register, the man turned to me and told me to go ahead of him. After thanking him, I proceeded to the register. When I got up to the register, a women getting checked out right beside me leaned to me and said, “I guess chivalry isn’t dead after all.”
The word chivalry originated during the Middle Ages around 1400. Back then, chivalry was synonymous with knights and knighthood.
Today, of course, literal knights in shining armor don’t exist except maybe in Disney movies. All women, sometime in their lives, have wanted the knight in shining armor to sweep them off their feet. The term “being chivalrous” nowadays has a slightly different context then it did back in the middle ages. Today, a woman would say a man is displaying acts of chivalry if he opens doors for her, helps old women across the street, lends a woman his jacket if she is cold…etc. These acts remind me the 1950’s movies where the women are treated with courtesy and respect. The 21st century women’s attitude is more about being independent. This independence at times gives these women the wrong idea about what might just be meant by a man as a display of chivalry. There are still those few that appreciate the chivalrous acts men display. Do not give up men!
The generation today, I sense, has lost their respect for women and even men in some cases. The media has played a large role in encouraging this by spoon feeding our “digital” youth beliefs on how to treat women. Music videos along with movies also help this due to their content of vulgar language and singular attitude of how people are supposed to interact with each other. Overworked and stressed out parents (and there are a lot of those anymore) and divorce are another influence that youth observe regarding how women are supposed to be treated. As an example of today’s generation, I asked my preteen niece if she knew what chivalry meant. She had no clue. After explaining to her what it meant she warmed up to the concept. I think this helps to prove the point that this generation is more focused on the “all about me” concept and not what’s important. Humanity, I feel, is in dire need for going back to the times when respecting women and each other was paramount. Chivalry doesn’t have to be dead and still exists today, though rarely.