At Your Service, M’lady

“Women complain that chivalry is dead.  Maybe we have helped kill it.  A little patience on our part can revive it.  If you want to be the woman men rush to pull up a chair for, give them time to get there.” Arlene Dahl, Always Ask a Man.

My friend Ari & I were traveling to NYC over the weekend, meeting my friend Matthew & her husband, Pav.  I’ve known Ari & Pav since college; I attended their wedding last year and they’re both some of my dearest friends.  Ari is an actual genius and scathingly funny; Pav has a sweet face that is almost deceptive about his quick, wicked sense of humor.

When we got off the bus, Pav met us and immediately offered to carry my vintage red suitcase, which was sitting on the ground next to where we were waiting.  “How come you didn’t offer to carry my bags!” Ari joked.

Pav’s answer was priceless.  “I didn’t want to insult you,” he said.  “After that talk we had about gender roles.  I know you’re strong enough to carry your bag.”

It was a perfect example of both chivalry & love.  He respected her enough to know that his offering to carry her bags might be considered an act of disrespect for her strength and position as an independent woman.  But because I am their friend and in her company, it was a show of respect for me for him to offer to carry my bag, the same way a young man in love might offer to buy his girlfriend’s friends a round of drinks when he meets them for the first time.

I thanked him, but carried my own bag out of respect for their marriage.   But I do love it when a man carries my bag; Matthew does it whenever we’re together and Ian, who was raised by a fiercely independent mother who taught him that all parties carry what they packed, picked up my suitcase when I arrived at the train station at the end of the weekend, without me even clearing my throat and awkwardly pointing.

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4 responses »

  1. Love your blog’s colour scheme. Chivalry is a hot topic. I’d like to see a comeback. Women really do appreciate it when a man opens a door for her.

    I do think, though, that the flip side of the coin – being ladylike – is also neglected. As an example, recently I dated a woman, opened car & restaurant doors, paid for dinner, etc. At a subsequent date that began with dinner at home, however, she made it clear that she doesn’t cook and asked what recipes I knew. Not wanting to be rude I obliged. But this was an epic fail on her part. She was not ladylike even though she wanted chivalry, and didn’t appear to understand the importance of reciprocity in a relationship.

    Unfortunately, a chivalrous man who mentions that women should be ladylike is likely to find himself lectured about the evils of sexism. But if he decides to forgo chivalry because of this he is likely to be man-shamed. So although I think chivalry should make a comeback, I also think this is only half the equation.

  2. It is difficult to be chivalrous without being sexist as it is difficult to be lady-like and not dependent. I am an advocate of door holding- by both parties. I find it irritating when I reach a door first and my brother or other men refuse to walk through. If it mattered that much to you, get there first. I don’t care if it’s a first date or a stranger- people should hold the door open for each other.
    I also think if someone is carrying something, one should offer to help. To me, the gender roles aren’t really important here. But the approach is.
    If someone asks to help me carry something, I accept or decline based on my need and the load. However, when my co-worker approaches me with a line like, “A lady shouldn’t be carrying that” I want him to hold it so I can punch him in his face. Had he simply phrased it with, “Can I help you?” it would be a totally different situation.
    I think as Libby said, the way the way Ari and Pav love and respect each other is what makes it work. And as Bearded Bow Tie mentioned- reciprocity is also important. If one person cooks, the other washes the dishes. I don’t care which partner does what as long as both feel the roles are equal and fair.

  3. I think chivalry is a regional thing. In my experience being from southern NY, chivalry is completely dead. Manners in general are nonexistent. Gauging from recent discussions I’ve had with women they don’t want chivalry to come back. They view it as sexist and demeaning. I for one believe and was taught to treat everyone with respect so chivalry to me is really a non-issue. Everyone is getting the good stuff. However from the perspective of many women they see my politeness as an attempt to subdue and restrain them, which is so mentally insane that it’s become laughable.

    I’ve seen women not only refuse to walk through a door I’m holding but then scold me for it. I’ve had a woman refuse to let me pick her up in my car. Although I appreciated it when she picked me up. I’ve been flatly refused on both paying for a woman’s meal and even paying for my own, although that was nice. I listened to a hour diatribe about how men buying women drinks is a cardinal sin. “I can pay for my own damn drink.” Yes but how will he make his cheazy introduction. I realized a few years back when the last local store I could buy underwear at closed that I would have to make future purchases from Hanes.com. Please women, tell me I will not have to order an internet bride from Russia. Tell me civilization hasn’t come to that.

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