In 2016 have we lost the sense of respect for women? Have women demanded equality that much that chivalry is no longer required or just down right patronising? Is a chivalrous act merely another form of historical control or are we comfortable and stable enough in our genders to expect respect, not on the grounds of being a women but on the grounds of being a human being.
I have been brushing up on my etiquette recently. The do’s and don’ts within society and the correct protocol for gatherings. Friends of mine brought me a copy of Debrett’s for Christmas and it really is un-put-down-able! Historically women have been the more respected gender, thats a fact, its not modern-day feminism it is what it is. Seen as a trophy, as a housewife, a mother etc. women have always been the more sensitive and more respected sex. In the days of Downton we see men rise from their seats as a woman enters the room, we see car doors held open and men walking next to a lady on the side of the road as protection. All of this was fanciful in the 1900s in England but what about now?
I read the argument that chivalrous acts are considered by some as ‘inconvenient’. The idea of respect being ‘inconvenient’ just baffles me. Strong independent women do not want to be pitied and saved, hell I wave the biggest flag for this but do you know what? Every once in a while it feels quite nice.
I also like to be upfront and honest about things, if you’re planning on paying the bill for dinner make it quite clear from the start otherwise I expect to pay my share at the end. A treat is just that, a treat, paying the bill to prove a point makes the whole concept of a night out moot. Our problem today is our expectations, in reality if you want the bad boy he’s probably not going to open the door for you or compliment you without a hidden agenda, you can’t have your cake and eat it. But having good manners and a little flattery is quite often the best way to go about ones daily life in my opinion. Chivalrous acts are no longer defined by duty but by spontaneous acts we should (apparently) be surprised by and appreciative off. Sounds a bit bonkers to me. Chivalry isn’t dead its just a little bit lost and I don’t think this is something we can blame solely on men, if their acts go unappreciated its natural to stop doing it. Perhaps this is where we turn to our older generations. Is the little old man a perv for allowing you to go up the stairs first? Of course he doesn’t want to look at your bum he wants to catch you should you fall (ok not all old men think this way, in fact some want to see your bum but we are holding on to the little bit of faith we have left in the human race here.)
So if I’m being honest, I find it difficult to take a compliment at times but I am working on that. The ability to understand and accept chivalry comes from having confidence in yourself. If someone opens the door for me, I don’t see that as them thinking I am too weak to do it myself, I see it as a polite gesture (and a bonus if it’s a germ infested toilet door!). By knowing you are able to do something but having someone you respect and who respects you do it for you should not come at the price of your equality and status but on the mutual understanding that closing the door in someone’s face is a pretty shit thing to do.
Compliments are well received from those we love. If my Dad complements me on anything I know its good because as much as I love him, for him to notice anything means its pretty special. Compliments from people beyond our comfort zone i.e. immediate family and friends, can be a little difficult to take. Are they serious? Are they taking the piss? What is their hidden agenda? Are they saying it because they have to? Do I have to compliment them back? – It’s a mind field. But taking a complement in good faith and avoiding the self-deprecation of ‘this old thing’ or the outright denial ‘no its not’ is the polite way to respond and doesn’t dissuade the individual giving a compliment in attempt to say something nice for fear of getting it wrong or causing offence. Comments about ones health or weight are best avoided but compliments on the food, drink or surroundings are most welcomed and in many circumstances expected. Paying a compliment is important for two other reason aside from building up ones ego and self-esteem. Firstly, if a lot of time and effort has gone in to its creation do not overlook it as it will appear unappreciated and secondly, paying someone a compliment means you have gone in with your eyes open, you are alert and you are grateful for being asked in the first place. Extra tip: people always invite a person back who compliments them on their achievements!
It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments, for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming – Oscar Wilde.
Another thing you can’t blame chivalry for is the maltreatment of women. Gender inequality goes far beyond respect; gender inequality is repression and control. All I’m fighting for here is a mutual regard for a fellow human not on the basis of their sex but on the status as a human being in 2016. I think what should have happened is instead of loosing chivalry ‘respect of women by men’ we should have all become more chivalrous, respecting each other because we are human beings. Equality of the sexes should not affect your ability to have manners and be respectful to others.