The Game of Chivalry


Is chivalry dead?  I don’t think so, but maybe that’s just within the small space that I live in.  I am frequently in places where doors are opened for women, and women are given the opportunity to go first, be it first dibs at dinner, first out of the elevator, or even yielding to a woman so she can go first when in a crowded narrow space.  I’ve even witnessed men carrying heavy bags for women.

Sidebar, I’m not quite sure where this tradition originates.  I understand the concept of letting a woman go first when entering a room, or when exiting an elevator, but I’m not sure how much sense it makes.  I mean, shouldn’t a man be the first to enter a room?  Now hear me out a second.  If there is something dangerous in said room, shouldn’t the man be the one to check it out first?  It seems to me that a true gentleman would investigate a given space to ensure his woman’s safety before she enters the room, no?  This doesn’t apply to all chivalry activities.  Certainly opening a car door, or helping a woman over a puddle is different, but I never understood why letting the woman go first was in the woman’s best interest.  Even when it comes to food, why should the women “test” the food first.  Shouldn’t the man eat and make sure the meal is appropriate for his woman, saving her from any possible danger?  I’m probably thinking too deeply about it, but even in its basic form, having a woman go first into any unknown seems to be less the chivalric.  However, I understand the concept that ladies should go first, and giving them first opportunity, no matter the situation, should be a man’s duty.

Sidebar to the sidebar, I know a woman who actually hates this practice.  I’m not 100% sure of her reasoning, but I believe she finds it ridiculous, and when faced with this action, will insist that the man go first.  I’m not sure if she would be considered an extreme liberal, but it certainly puts the well intentioned male in an awkward position. We want to be gentleman, but how do we know which women appreciate it versus the women who think you are infringing upon their women’s lib rights?  Just like it’s confusing as to whether we should offer a pregnant woman our seat for fear that she might not be pregnant.  I was told recently that we should, in that case, always abandon our seat for a woman.  On public transportation that means men would never sit.  I reserve this particular activity for the elderly (man or woman), and obviously pregnant women.  Maybe that makes me a jerk…idk.

In any case, the reason I am writing this has nothing to do with women.  It has to do with men.  I find that, especially when getting off an elevator, there is an awkward game of “you go first” that I refuse to play.  If I’m on the elevator with a male, and the doors open, I will hesitate, especially if I’m at the back of the elevator.  If I’m in the front, I’m just getting off.  But if you motion for me to go first, I will not then motion for you to go, expecting that you will motion for me to go once again, and then exit the elevator.  I find it pointless.  I don’t care how old you are.  If you don’t go, or you motion to me to go, I am going.  Or if I motion for you to go, and you don’t go, I will not give you the seemingly obligatory courtesy of motioning for you to go again.  I am just going to go.  I don’t have time for that game, and I find it to be stupid.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the nice gesture which is why I will normally be the one to motion for you to go.  But I don’t find the back and forth game enjoyable.  Does that make me a jerk?  Maybe, but I’ll be that.  Chivalry and general courtesy have a place in society, but let’s not make it such a game.

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