Written by Terry Johnson, Jr. / Photography: Ethan David Studios / Graphics: April Gregory
Associated with the medieval institution of knighthood, Chivalry represented a code of conduct having to do with courage and generosity, but specifically a gentlemen’s courteous conduct toward women. Fast forward to the 21st century, one must wonder if chivalries even exist. If so, how do we define it? What are our expectations of a chivalrous man? Do we men know how to be chivalrous or how to behave in an honorable or polite way toward women? As a woman, do you know what it feels like to receive chivalry? Does chivalry have anything to do one’s fashion statement?
Such are legitimate questions in this present century where women have made great strides in our society at obtaining better paying jobs and securing positions of power that demand admiration and respect. While women have made long strides in their fight to being treated equally, and wielding greater economic, political, and cultural influence than ever before, the politics of equality should not relegate chivalry to a relic conferred upon mounted warriors of medieval times.
Equality is not an excuse for male impoliteness or a tradeoff between gentlemen and cads. An anonymous writer wrote an article, “It’s Payback Time For Gender Equality And Chivalry,” in the Chicago Daily Herald (2010). The article, obviously written by a woman, tells of an incident where she “… was walking into a coffee shop as a man was walking out. His hands were full balancing three cups of coffee, so I held the door open for him. Two other men followed behind him and one said to me, “Don’t you just love equal rights?” (p. 3, C1). Women’s economic and intellectual contributions to the whole of society do not mean they want or deserve to be treated any less than a lady. Women have a right to be treated equally, and should expect chivalry as well.
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