Chivalric Expression in America

While attending a seminar yesterday that touched on chivalry and what it meant during the reign of Charles I, I was confronted with my own ideas of chivalry and what it means to me as a twenty-something American woman. While chivalry originally meant a sworn loyalty to your king, it has taken on a different meaning in our monarch-less America.

To ask an average American what chivalry means would elicit responses of men who hold open doors, pull out chairs, open a car door for a date, and show a general respect for women; A good Samaritan image. While most women would claim that it is difficult to find men such as these and cries of “Where are all the good men?” and “What happened to chivalry?” are unfortunately all too common, I would argue that they are not all justified. I would say that the reason “chivalry is dead” in America is mainly for three specific reasons.

  1. I know several men who still do these things for women, but their gestures go vastly unnoticed and unappreciated. This speaks largely to the women who seem solely attracted to the “bad boy” stereotype. While women want a good man to marry, they have a tendency to pay no attention to the men who would treat them as ladies because their brains have been trained to ignore it.
  2. Some women become so over-empowered with their feminist ideals that it is insulting to them to have a man show a gesture of chivalry, and these women are not afraid to tell the would-be gentlemen exactly how much they don’t need their help. This leads men to not risk the verbal lashing for what should have been a simple, kind deed.
  3. Our idea of chivalry being an absolute gentleman taking care of a lady is hindered by a lack of ladylike qualities in women. I find myself annoyed by how many women claim that chivalry is dead and there are no gentlemen in the world, then conduct themselves in most unladylike behavior.

While, of course, there are more than these three reasons, I believe that these are the main three.

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