It is often said that chivalry is dead, but why is that so and who is mourning? A recent article lamenting the rarity of the gentleman within the millennial male populace would seem to provide something of an answer to that question. The author of the piece, Hope Rodriguez, contends that millennial men are severely lacking in gentlemanly traits, and explains to us why they should “man up” and correct these errors.
1. Elevator etiquette
I don’t care how big of a hurry you’re in, or how slow she may walk, if there is a female or five on the elevator with you, you hold your arm in the door and let them off first.
2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T (sing it to the tune of Aretha Franklin)
If a female walks past you, for God’s sake, do not turn your head and stare at her behind. If she is talking to you, don’t stare down her shirt. If you’re driving down the road, don’t honk or yell “hey sexy!!!!” Gross. Undressing a girl with your eyes is one of the most disgusting and degrading things you could possibly do to her. Don’t worry about getting a date, you’ve already ruined it by being a pig.
3. Give up your seat.
Whether she is old, young, pregnant, active, fat, skinny, whatever; if the bus, classroom, etc. is full, get up from your chair and offer your seat to a female who is standing. If you chose to stay in your seat and force ladies to remain standing, make sure you remember to take off your maxi pad on the way out. (oops, did I just say that?!)
4. Pay attention to the fact that the world is more threatening for females
We are automatic targets everywhere we go, especially at night. I don’t need to get into the subject of rape. Walk your female coworkers to their cars at night. Just watch out for the women around you, they’ll definitely appreciate it.
5. Be polite.
Compliment a lady today. They aren’t going to automatically assume that you want to have babies with them just because you said they look nice today. You would be surprised by what can make a woman smile. Little things, men. Little things.
6. Hold the door.
If we are pretty far behind, we don’t expect you to hold the door open for us. It makes us feel like we need to hurry to the door. However, if there is a woman walking behind you or relatively close behind you, do NOT let a door shut on her.
7. Driveway etiquette
My son will know that he will NOT drive up to a female’s house and honk the horn or shoot her a text that says “I’m here, come get in the car.” If a guy comes to pick my future daughter up for a date, and he honks the horn or texts her to pick her up, I’m going to walk outside and tell him to go home. Walk up to the door, knock on the door, and then walk her to your car. At the end of the night, walk her back to her door. I don’t care if you’re just friends or you’re married. It’s what you’re supposed to do.
Guys: man up. Bring back gentlemanly behaviors. It would definitely be appreciated.
Unfortunately for this author, her requests are simply incompatible with the notions of gender equality that our society has embraced wholeheartedly and integrated aggressively into its legal and social order.
For example, the modern man on an elevator with women has been raised and conditioned to respect those women as his equals. Equals do not receive special consideration over other equals on the basis of gender or any other marker. Equals are treated… equally. Providing the benefit of this etiquette to women simply because they are women would fundamentally contradict notions of equality that we’re heavily invested in as a society. A man who truly believes in equality and all of the values that it represents is going to practice that elevator etiquette with everyone he meets regardless of gender. He will be polite to everyone. He will respect everyone. He will practice driveway etiquette with everyone, and he will hold the door or give up a seat for anyone who actually needs it. He will not engage in these behaviors selectively on the basis of gender because he has been taught not to discriminate in that way.
A few of Ms. Rodriguez’s other statements betray outright ignorance, naiveté or both. Take these, for example:
…Walk your female coworkers to their cars at night…
… Compliment a lady today. They aren’t going to automatically assume that you want to have babies with them just because you said they look nice today…
The first statement sounds like an excellent way to invite a sexual harassment suit or attract potential discipline for violations of workplace conduct. Your typical corporate millennial females are unlikely to tolerate this unsolicited “escort” on the part of their male coworkers, much less appreciate it. Unless they have already been deemed attractive by these females (most men won’t be in this category), the men attempting to provide this escort will be labeled “creepy” at best, and accused of stalking at worst. No good can come of this.
The second just sounds naive: any man who has interacted with modern millennial females for any period of time will understand that many of them will jump to precisely that conclusion, and will also sometimes react negatively upon doing so. Hope Rodriguez is not a man and so could possibly be forgiven for not understanding these things at the outset, but she needs to change that if she hopes to have any advice she writes for men taken seriously.
That brings me to my next point: Ms. Rodriguez seems not to grasp the true nature of the chivalrous ideals she yearns for or the environment in which she currently lives. The concept of chivalry required men to be perfect gentlemen in their conduct, but said behavior was not intended for every female they met. It was more specifically designed to govern male conduct with ladies. Chivalrous codes of conduct required a gentleman to execute them, and a lady to receive them..
Ladies had their own rules to follow, and it was only through the adherence to those rules that they could qualify for the receipt of chivalry from a gentleman. Chivalric codes of conduct traveled on a two way street: the gentleman cannot exist without the lady, and vice-versa. Both genders were required to adhere to certain standards in order to engage in the chivalric exchange. The gentleman and the lady are like the yin and the yang.
Ms. Rodriguez is probably right to note that an ideal chivalrous gentleman would be more measured and restrained in his observation of an attractive female that he had not yet been acquainted with. He probably wouldn’t be too forward with her to begin with, and would remain exceedingly polite during his first interactions with her while avoiding overt sexualization.
In order to get that treatment, however, a woman would need to be the ideal lady. Ladies in the age of chivalry were modest in their conduct. They were not particularly sexually suggestive in their speech, dress or dance, and this made it relatively easy for a gentleman to approach and engage them in a more polite, less overtly sexual manner.
Most modern millennial women do not adhere to the codes of conduct inherent to the lady. Their dress is often highly sexually suggestive, designed to invite overtly sexual approaches and draw the very suggestive gazes that Ms. Rodriguez scolds millennial men for wielding. Their dance is often even more sexually suggestive, roughly approximating the act of intercourse itself.
Modern millenial females express their sexuality more openly and freely than any lady of a bygone age would have been expected to. A lady expecting to keep that label and thus benefit from the chivalrous conduct of a gentleman could not engage freely and openly in casual sexual relationships with multiple men while unmarried. She could not engage in simulated sex on dance floors with men she didn’t even know well (or even men she did know somewhat well). She could not walk around in clothing designed specifically to expose and draw attention to the more sexually alluring portions of her body. The modern woman can do all of this, however, and very often does. Why?
Because she wants to, and that’s alright. Women have spent generations fighting for the ability to remove social limitations on their sexuality, and they now enjoy the fruits of that effort. Don’t get anything twisted here: I have no problem with this and neither do most millennial men. Women are free to dress as they like, dance as they like and fuck as they like. I’m certainly not going to stop them, but there’s a price to pay for all of this.
As noted before, the gentleman and the lady come together. One cannot exist without the other—the code of chivalry was designed with this understanding in mind, and it dealt with that understanding by creating standards of conduct for each gender seeking to participate in the chivalric exchange. When we freed women from the obligation to adhere to those standards of conduct, we necessarily freed men as well.
How can we change this and bring back the missing gentleman Ms. Rodriguez so desperately desires to interact with? Well, gentlemen require ladies. If you want more gentlemen in the traditional sense, you’ll need to create more ladies in the traditional sense, and that would require a re-imposition of the same social and legal restrictions on female sexuality and expression that women have fought so hard to eliminate during the last few generations. There would need to be a rescission of the legal progress females in our society have made toward true equality.
To further illustrate just why this is, consider the way in Ms. Rodriguez’s suggestion that men give up seats and hold doors (among other preferential and somewhat deferential things) specifically for women solely because they are women. Such behavior was once common, but why was this?
Because women were seen as the weaker sex. This notion of the inherently “weak” female governed the discriminatory legal and social landscape in which the code of chivalry was born and practiced. Men did all they did for women because of the implicit understanding in society that women, by virtue of their being women, were not equal to them. They were weaker and needed assistance and men, by virtue of their being men, were stronger and therefore obligated to provide that assistance.
Men are no longer behaving this way because they have been raised to understand that their female counterparts are not weak, but strong. They’re not dependent, but independent. They’re not inferiors, they’re equals. Our modern legal system takes these statements as fundamental, unassailable truths and uses the force of law to ensure that they are treated accordingly. This will, in turn, prevent men from doing many of the things Ms. Rodriguez would like them to, as they have become increasingly unable to see women as their true inferiors.
If Ms. Rodriguez wants the chivalric code to make its way back into the mainstream, she’ll need to bring back the old view on gender relations that gave rise to it. Modern notions of gender equality will need to go out the window.
That is unlikely to happen, however. For all of her yearning for the “chivalry” of yesteryear, I doubt that Hope Rodriguez or any other modern woman would like to see the return of the social mores necessary to sustain it. Millennial women live in what is undoubtedly the best time to be a female in the history of humanity. At no point in human history have women been as wealthy, as free, as respected and as influential as they are today. The return of te social norms necessary to sustain chivalry in the traditional sense could only inhibit their enjoyment of all that, and they know it. Women have made their voices heard loudly and clearly: they will not tolerate this.
Hope Rodriguez seems like a nice girl and I’m sure she’ll find a man to treat her well sometime soon (if she hasn’t already), but she’ll not succeed in bringing back the ways of a bygone age. Chivalry is dead and, at the end of the day, that’s just the way that most millennial women want it.