I recently had a conversation with my friend about whether or not chivalry is dead in our society, and I really didn’t know what side to take on the argument. Maybe chivalry is dead and men should make more of an effort to be kind to the women in their lives. But doesn’t that present women as submissive and in need of a man’s help? A woman should not rely on a man to do what she can do for herself; she should be strong and independent. I went back and forth in my mind and finally came to the realization that maybe we are looking at the question from the wrong angle. Maybe instead of seeing chivalry as a man putting his romantic partner first, we should look at it as people simply being nice to each other.
Let me fill you in on my thought process. I have a boyfriend, and I love when he does things for me that are deemed “chivalrous.” This might mean that he holds a door open for me or he gives me his jacket when I am cold, all of those mushy gushy romantic clichés. However, what I appreciate about our relationship is that he doesn’t stop me from doing those same chivalrous actions for him. He can hold a door open for me, and I can hold the next door open for him. To me, it isn’t chivalry. It is being a kind human being. We need to stop looking at chivalry from such a stereotypical viewpoint and instead add some gender equality to it! A woman can be chivalrous; it is not a job reserved for only men.
Our idea of chivalry must change in order to create a better society. If boys are taught as they grow up that women are trophies to hold by their side and take care of, we are just supporting the idea of a male-dominated society. Women constitute half of the world’s population, so we must be treated as equals to men. A society that supports such stereotypical terms also creates a space in which issues such as domestic violence can exist. Think about it – the norm is that men are supposed to take care of women. Therefore, women are seen as submissive and basically the property of a man. If a woman is then seen as the property of a man, he can do whatever he pleases to her without any backfire. The woman then would have no way to reach out for help because the man is seen as “chivalrous” for “taking care of her” and she is his crazy wife/property. Sadly, this is the reality of many people in violent relationships in today’s society.
So, the next time someone asks you what ever happened to chivalry, say that it isn’t dead; it’s called equality. It’s called helping a fellow human being out for a change. It’s called being a nice person. Do not let gender roles and stereotypes prevail in today’s society. It is an issue that affects everyone, and we must work together to put an end to this gender discrimination.