Man-day Post: Whither Chivalry. . .

In Man-day by Jensguy13 Comments

About a week ago, I heard comedian and talk show host Dennis Miller talking about the “momentous” release of hacked nude photographs.  The gist of it was, “I didn’t look at the photographs, it really isn’t my thing.  I figure that they didn’t want them released,  so it wouldn’t be right of me to be out there looking.”  And finally, something was said into the idiocy echo chamber that made sense.

I was raised by a single mother.  The kind of mother that would point out things like, “Look at that older lady standing in line over there, do you think she might like one of those fold-able chairs to rest on while she waits?”  Or “I just drove past Mrs. Smith’s house and she is unloading a lot of groceries, do you think you could go out and help her?”  Also, “Don’t you ever let me catch you treating a girl like that!”  I miss her, but she taught me well.

So now I am going to get all controversial on Jennifer’s blog (which I normally don’t do.)

One of the issues highlighted by the hacked photos is a near complete death of traditional chivalry.  Obviously I am not speaking of the pre-Victorian codes that governed knighthood, war, and how many braids your horse’s mane needed to have.  Nor am I talking about the hysterical strawman version decried by militant feminists as “men feeling superior.”  I’m speaking about the REAL chivalry, that even I am slipping at, and the absence of which will cost our culture immensely.

So first I am going to try to explain what chivalry is and what it isn’t.  If you want to know what a Catholic believes, don’t ask a Baptist, and if you want to know about chivalry, don’t ask Gloria Steinem.

First of all women, although we love you, you need to understand that chivalry isn’t even primarily about you.  It is a set of codes meant to train men in empathy and hone and exercise our ability to notice things that would normally fly right by us, just like I would do hundreds of sit-ups every day to hone my rock hard set of abs (well semi-rock hard anyway. . .)  Women just notice the stuff concerning women, because, well, that is the stuff concerning women.

I’m going to go a little further into controversy-ville and point out that men and women aren’t the same, they just aren’t.  Most men are direct and task oriented to the point where they can get tunnel vision.  Women in general, are more empathetic.  Most women have probably never uttered the phrase, “Get up and rub some dirt on it.  You will be fine!  Now get back there on third base, and just get your glove a little lower next time.  There you go. . .”  (my six year old daughter remains unconvinced about the magical medical healing properties of infield topsoil.)  It isn’t that men love any less, we just have a different way of showing it.

That is why chivalry was developed.  Sometimes it is GOOD to display more empathy and notice things that you normally wouldn’t.  And even if you are just following a set of rules to artificially get there at first, eventually those things grow into a habit.  Not every woman needs to have the door opened for her, but some certainly do, for whatever reason, and once you are in the habit, the woman fighting a fussing toddler will appreciate the assist.

Understand that there is a whole lot more to chivalry, including how men should treat other men.  Mens’ relationships to men differ greatly from their relationships with women (and thank God for that!)  so there are different rules in the specifics.  There are also rules that govern mens’ responsibility for regulating other men when it comes to their treatment of women (and also men, for what it is worth).  That is the type of thing that sent many a young boy to the principal’s office in school for fighting.  Of course, under the rules of chivalry, those you fought with today could also be your best friend tomorrow.  (All of this was before gangs, and boneheaded school administrations of course. . .)

Chivalry does NOT disrespect women by “placing them on a pedestal.”  Honestly, this is the complaint of bitter people who long ago ran out of legitimate things to complain about.  “Placing on a pedestal” would suggest that men are separating themselves away from the relationship and treating women as an abstract object.  Chivalry encourages men to interact with women at a level that they may not naturally consider, encouraging respect and communication.  This is an important part of teamwork, and helping men and women reach the highest levels of their relationship.

Compare this to “Women need men like a fish needs a bicycle!” which could possibly be the stupidest thing ever said that other people took seriously.  Yep, because nothing says progress and civility like carving a glaring divide between the sexes and encouraging conflict based on a bumper sticker mentality.

It is also important to point out that True Chivalry is not selective.  You don’t practice it just to try to impress a woman.  That would be transparent and pathetic, and if it is the only chivalry seen by groups of women, then much of the disdain would be justifiable.  It would also be sad. . .

But, getting back to the original quote.  Dennis had it right.  The correct answer is to respect the privacy of the women involved in the leaked pictures and call out the people going ape over “the event” as the creepers they are.  Largely, at least in the public sphere, this wasn’t happening.  I would submit that this is because the art of chivalry is dying due to a thousand undeserved cuts of misunderstanding, unwarranted hostility, and inartful poseurs.  It is regretful.

Nevertheless, following the lead of my mother, I will teach my son to practice it and my daughters to demand it, because there may yet be a time where it is needed.


Note-  the great images in this post come from Being Cabellero which I just discovered when writing this post.  I will probably do a follow up on this site because it is full of undistilled awesomeness!

Go ahead and share this post, you know you want to!


  1. Definitely made me smile on that last line of teaching your sons the art of chivalry and to have your daughters demand. Perfect and must admit I do to have so s, but do have daughters and think my husband would very much agree with you on is for them, too.
    Janine Huldie recently posted…This Apple Girl Drools Over iPhone 6My Profile

  2. I will definitely teach my son to practice it and my daughter to demand it, but I believe in being chivalrous too. So I think I’d like to teach my daughter to practice it and my son to demand it too!

    Can I do that?
    Tamara recently posted…A Letter To a Little Girl.My Profile

    1. One of the biggest problems that Chivalry has is that people who practice it, don’t talk about it that often. So yes, that can change a whole lot and the conversation can be tremendous for boys and girls alike. It’s interesting to see a whole raft of problems happening right now that would be solved if Chivalry was demanded and practiced by everyone. There is a personal aspect to it too. Just as there are slight differences on how I would teach my boy and girls, there are also differences in the way I teach my individual girls based on their personality traits. Some people might just be empathetic enough naturally that teaching a “code” would be redundant.
      Jen’s Guy recently posted…Man-day Post: Whither Chivalry. . .My Profile

  3. I’m happy to admit that I’m really impressed with you right now! I agree with most everything you said. It’s my opinion that the ease of sharing (social media) has contributed to, or at least hastened, this downward spiral. In our house, we will be teaching this right alongside of what we believe to be ‘social media etiquette.’

    Teaching the next generation to demand it is critical, but just as critical is the acknowledgement of when a man, partner, or random stranger, takes that extra effort. Great article, JG!
    Sarah Nenni Daher recently posted…TinkerBell CostumeMy Profile

  4. Wait, what is this “Social media etiquette” you speak about? Actually, that is the rub. The fact that somehow etiquette online should be different than offline is kind of scary. The fact that creepers downloading the leaked pictures would be looked at differently than a pervert outside the woman’s bedroom window is a tremendous problem. Making a fuss about these being the pictures of “stars” as opposed to a normal woman (which this happens to all of the time) isn’t really helpful either.

    1. Oh, I completely agree!! It saddens me what people do with social media. It seems that with anonymity comes a blatant disregard for acceptable social behavior. I sent this to my husband to read and his response: “Well said, Jen’s Guy. Well said.” :)
      Sarah Nenni Daher recently posted…TinkerBell CostumeMy Profile

  5. I am clapping and singing your praises Jensguy! I used to think “I am not helpless I don’t need a man to open a door for me” and I don’t, but now I let a man open that door so he can do what he needs to do. We as women sometimes complain that men don’t do enough, but sometimes we don’t let them. Recently I was out and about, I was busy – a man was coming in, I was going out. My initial reaction was to push the door open and walk right past, but I could tell that maybe he wanted to do his thing and hold the door open. I let him do it, I realized at that moment that we must demand it and we must let those that are willing – that is unless we’re willing to let something so beautiful become extinct! I recently started teaching my son this aspect of life, but I am leaving the art of it up to dad…but I have to let dad do his part and because life gets in the way I have to gently nudge him in the right direction and when it’s said and done I must be gracious about it. I could go on for forever!

    Awesome post that spoke to my heart!
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  6. This post needs to be submitted to the huffington post! It’s true on so many levels, just because a man is chivalrous does not mean he thinks women are less than him. It has nothing to do with gender equality and everything to with decency. I enjoyed this

  7. Very well said Jensguy! I am going to say that as a woman, I needed to “learn” what chivalry was… I had this misguided notion that it equated with romance. Wow, was I ever wrong. My husband can be very romantic but he is sooooooo chivalrous and I see him demonstrating it all the time… in all his actions.

    Fabulous post, as usual, Jensguy!

    PS – Thanks Jen for sharing at the #SHINEbloghop – I know Jensguy doesn’t “do” hops but I’m glad that you shared.

    Wishing you well!
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…SHINE Blog Hop #17My Profile

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