You know, it’s funny—people say chivalry is dead but really, it was just reinvented. According to the Oxford Dictionary, chivalry is, “the medieval knightly system with its religious, moral, and social code; Knights, noblemen, and horsemen collectively; the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.” Many people believe that chivalry is actions taken to make women feel good or impress them. Today that might be true, but that was not always the case.
The Knights of the Round Table are an example of what chivalry used to be. Knights fighting for their kingdom was chivalrous. Today those acts are considered heroic, not chivalrous. Today’s society finds actions such as holding open a door or pulling out someone’s chair chivalrous.
I don’t know if it is ironic or sad that people believe that only men are capable of performing these acts. I do not understand why people put double standards on actions for which anyone can do. Like anyone else, I enjoy when someone opens the door for me, or when someone offers me a jacket when I am cold. These acts make me feel special and noticed. But I too am capable of performing these acts.
Recently, a man held the door open for me at the student center and I couldn’t help but think about polite that was. His simple act made me feel special, but it wasn’t the fact that he held the door for me that caught my attention—what I noticed was how he looked me in the eyes and watched me go. He didn’t watch me in a stalker way but in a way that made me feel important.
I understand the thought of protecting a woman, but more often than not when a man puts me on the inside when walking so I’m not near the street or fills my gas tank, I feel offended. Acts like these make me feel incapable of protecting myself. I feel degraded, like I am someone’s property. I am more than capable of holding a door open. When a woman holds a door for a man, it is seen as emasculating.
Women and men are held to different standards. Men are taught that they must protect women because women are fragile. In truth, I am just as capable as a man but very rarely get the opportunity to prove it. When a man does something kind for a woman, we are supposed to gush and squeal and be thankful; but if a woman does something for a man, there isn’t even a thank you most of the time. Usually you just get an eye roll.
People argue that gender is a thing of the past, but is it really? I like being taken care of and knowing someone is willing to protect me, but I don’t think that should mean I am incapable. Women need to be given the credit they deserve. Women are just as capable as men and it’s time for the world to see that.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University