By: Jill Odom

Picture this; you are going on a date with this guy you really like. When he shows up he honks the horn a couple times to get you to come outside,  then when you get to the movies he walks inside without a second glance and buys his own ticket then stands by for you to pay for your own. Now how many of you ladies would go on a second date with this person? Not that many.

Even though chivalry is considered a dying notion, girls still hold expectations and standards for the guys they date. In the traditional medieval sense, chivalry was actually a warrior’s code, and dictated how knights interacted with each other.  Courtesy on the other hand was how a knight would treat a woman in court. Over time, these two codes of conduct folded into the idea of chivalry.

In today’s day and time, manner, politeness, and courtesy are found few and far between. The South is renowned for its civility but they are a shade of their former glory. There are many reasons behind society’s apathy towards respectful behavior but one major reason why chivalry is often found to be lacking is the decline of patriarchy.

With absent fathers abounding, young men are growing up with no role model in how a man should act properly toward a woman. This is not to say that all boys growing up without a dad in the house have no concept of chivalry, because other men in the family or community can step up and display the common principles of chivalry.

Another factor that is diminishing the belief and practice of chivalry is aggressive feminism which causes young men to be hesitant to display courteous gestures, out of fear of insulting a girl. It’s true that some women do get offended if men try to open doors for them or pay for a meal, because they see acts like that as demeaning. They wish to be seen as equals and when given special treatment no longer feel equal.

The biggest cause behind the disappearance of chivalric acts is the fact that women no longer expect it from men.  Dr. Richard Nokes, Associate Professor of English, said, “I remember some years ago a woman said that she no longer expects a man to open the door for her. She’s just happy if he pushes it hard enough when he goes through it that it stays open long enough for her to get through it.” This is just plain sad that guys aren’t held to a higher standard than this nowadays.

Some women who do desire men to act chivalrous and courteous no longer feel like they have the right to expect it, simply because it is so rare. People keep lowering their standards when they should be raising them. Why settle for someone who is convenient but doesn’t make you happy and doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated?

Even though the focus is typically on what a guy should do that is considered chivalrous, girls too have certain standards that they are called to follow. Ladies, if you know a man likes you, don’t be cruel. Don’t mock and scorn someone who was brave enough to tell you how he feels about you. Also do not betray your significant other’s trust, keep his secrets.

Above all else do not bring dishonor on yourself. What that means is do not bring attention to yourself in shameful ways, because that makes your boyfriend look bad by association and vice versa.  If you taint your reputation, his will also be stained, and a key factor of acting chivalrous is thinking of the broader social context of your actions.

In today’s hook up culture, chivalry is kicked to the curb because it treats that other person simply as an object to interact with. The belief that if there is consent, which is actually bare tolerance, and is just between two adults it is okay but it is un-chivalric because it ignores the wider social implications. Your actions affect other people and they are never sealed off in a vacuum.  Chivalry is acting with the good intentions of all.

“Whether we call it chivalry or not, there are places where rather than a romantic situation, a hook up culture has taken over so entirely it’s become a sexual “Lord of the Flies” where there are no rules, everything is barbaric. In those situations, the individuals involved get hurt and society at large is harmed by those things. The trick is to remember that any rules of chivalry have to be governed by broader principles,” said Dr. Nokes

Even though chivalry hasn’t seemed to manage to keep up with the times, the basic underlying values can be translated to today’s culture and serve as a code of conduct. Courteous behavior may be considered old-fashioned but it helps girls know that you respect them.   “It’s imperative. It helps a relationship grow with mutual respect. Girls don’t recognize it because it is so rare,” said Cesar Jauregui, a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Pell City.

Women may not tell you to do these things but they shouldn’t have to either, they want a gentleman. “I expect a man to treat me how I would treat myself,” Jasmine Scruggs, a sophomore English major from Huntsville.

While chivalry may not be as prevalent as it once was, it will never be truly gone because even the basic rule – don’t rape – serves as an extremely degraded form of a code of conduct. Just because you can take it doesn’t mean you should. Chivalry is needed at the very minimum to protect people who need protection and to protect their reputation as well as their physical beings.


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