Does chivalry's decline help or hurt women?
- Britannica defines chivalry as “honorable and courteous conduct expected of a knight.”
- Chivalry is rooted in the Christian worldview and includes respecting the honor of women. In 1430, the Roman Catholic order of chivalry, the Order of the Golden Fleece, was founded and defined 12 chivalric virtues for the Order to follow: faith, charity, justice, wisdom, prudence, temperance, resolution, truth, liberality, diligence, hope, and valor.
- Seventy-three percent of women believe chivalry is dead based on a Match.com survey. However, most women appreciate it when men follow through when they say they will call (84%), make sure they get home safely (83%), and offer up their seat (66%).
- Feminist scholars dismiss chivalry as a “type of benevolent sexism because it relies on the assumption that women are weak and in need of protection while men are strong. They argue that chivalry perpetuates gender inequality”.
Chivalry is dead. Long gone are the days to which men were held to an impossibly high standard, a standard which said it treated women highly, when in reality, it held them back. Long gone are the days of men opening doors, pulling out chairs for women, and simply depending on the man. Traditionally, women relied on men for financial support, housing, and well-being. That not only took away a woman’s rights but her own beliefs as well. Chivalry impacted women in a way that was detrimental to their physical, mental, and emotional health. Women became dependent, lesser versions of themselves, and ultimately docile. For example, when a man opens the door for a woman, she is taught to rely on him. Filling a woman’s gas tank, offering her your jacket, and constantly giving compliments are more suggestions of chivalrous nature. All of these niceties might seem wonderful, but when you dig deeper, they bring women down a peg. She becomes dependent, oblivious to her own needs, and entirely focused on going through life without thought to herself as independent and capable of so much more. With the uprooting of chivalry, something changed the tides. Women can stand alone. The mere suggestion of freedom from men is life-changing. With a broader scope of availability in the workplace, women can be seen as equals among men. Women can reach farther in all arenas, the workplace and at home. They can become highly paid executives, all-star athletes, and even attempt to push past that metaphorical glass ceiling. Instead of relying on men, women are powerhouses themselves, capable of changing the world.
Chivalry is suffering a death of a thousand papercuts by the resurgence of the feminism movement. And while the fight for gender equality is a necessary cause, the unintended victims are women themselves. Chivalry is a system of moral codes to protect the innocent, the poor and the defenseless. But the codes protected the integrity of honor, nobility, piety, and civility. Indeed, chivalry countered both disempowerment and oppression. The beginning of the end was a gradual decline. As modern warfare advanced, there was less need for knights and their highly principled mentality on the battlefields. Considering the origins of chivalry, we can surmise that chivalry is more about behavioral expectations concerned with honor, grace, and mercy, than it is about considering women as weak or incapable. Chivalry was practiced to preserve civility and piety. To conclude anything contrary is to disregard it as a moral code by which to conduct oneself. The decline, and certain death, of chivalry is further perpetuated by the modern feminist movement that demands a woman is capable of opening her own door, pulling out her own chair, or paying for her own meal, and that anything contrary to that ideal is to suggest a woman’s lesser worth. The reality is good manners and polite gestures are different from socio-political issues of gender equality and sexism. The same critics that blast chivalry as being overtly oppressive also feel that somehow being referred to as a “lady'' is soft-sexism. The death of chivalry at the hands of ultra-feminists is causing a rapid decline in the order and civility that exists in society. To kill chivalry is to kill common decency and the very idea of humanity as we know it.