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Wise Guys: What’s the Deal with Chivalry?

Tue, Jun 9, 2009

Advice, Wise Guys

chivalrya book about chivalry

Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the following: “What do you think about traditional gestures of chivalry like holding open a door for a woman, holding out her chair at the restaurant, etc? You know, is it just the polite thing to do, are you annoyed you’re expected to do these things as if the woman’s a baby, does it make you feel good to feel like a caretaker, etc?”

Straight Single Guy (Chris): I don’t know how I compare to the rest of the world of single, straight guys, but I still open doors, hold chairs (though less often than the door), and buy dinners. I’m not exactly sure where in the realm of online dating and pornhub.com chivalry died, but it seems to me that all of my girl friends are going dutch or paying for meals on their dates. I’m not a rich guy, but if I can’t afford a nice dinner, I cook one. And if I can afford dinner, I pay for it. I hold doors open because it is the polite thing to do, not because I am stronger than my frail little trophy dates. Sometimes I help old ladies cross the street or out of a taxi. I carry stuff for people, men and women, and I say, “Thank you, sir” and “Can I help you, ma’am?” Maybe that makes me old fashioned, but I think it makes me fucking cool.

Gay Married Guy (Jon Ross): For me, at the heart of chivalry is respect and consideration and therefore it does play a role in gay relationships. However, chivalry does have very specific gender connotations that would be a little bit ridiculous applied to a gay relationship. I would be extremely put off if, for example, a date held out a chair for me at a restaurant. However, small gestures like holding a door for me, offering me a seat on a bus or train, or even offering me his jacket if I’m freezing would all be appreciated. In that respect both gay and hetero relationships are the same. However, guys can easily overdo it. No one should be treated like a frail and helpless object, rather with the respect and consideration everybody (well, most people) deserves.

Straight Married Guy (James Glazebrook): Yes, chivalry is antiquated but just like sonnets, bodices and horse-drawn carriages, it’s also romantic. I’ll always hold the door open for my wife, or carry stuff for her, or give her my coat when it’s cold — not because she’s a woman, but because I love her <sigh>. As for other women, I’ll hold the door open — I afford even men that courtesy — but, apart from that, they’re on their own. Pretty much all of the social conventions we haven’t done away with by now are those designed to get us what we want. Just like a salesman will shake your hand and say “nice to meet you”, the average guy is only going to lend you his coat if he wants to get in your pants.

Our “guys” are a rotating group of contributors. This week’s Straight Married Guy is James Glazebrook of Manflet, our Straight Single Guy is Chris DiClerico, and our Gay Married Guy is Jon Ross. To ask the guys your own question, click here.

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18 Responses to “Wise Guys: What’s the Deal with Chivalry?”

  1. Rei Says:

    Chivalry is such a great thing, when it comes naturally, not just so the guy can get into your pants.

  2. Jay Jay Says:

    In my opinion, there is nothing hotter than a guy that has good manners. I was raised in a family where my dad and brother were extremely courteous to me and my mom and as a result, I have pretty high expectations of how men should act in social situations. Similarly. there’s something to be said about women who neither acknowledge or appreciate the actions of the man. Just as my brother was taught to open doors, pull out chairs, walk with, not in front of the woman, I was also taught to be grateful and courteous in return. There always needs to be a smile and “thank you” when guys are being polite. I disagree with the idea that guys only do these things to get some from women as well. While I’m sure that some men are scummy enough to do that, some men were just raised that way and certainly shouldn’t be scorned for having manners. As for the men that are too lazy or just plain rude, you should all fall down on your knees every time a woman even talks to you because in my opinion, poor social decency is a non-negotiable and most certainly a deal-breaker. What can I say? Good manners definitely separate the men from the boys.

  3. Jessica Says:

    How about getting the take on chivalry from the female perspective? In my book it’s a mixed bag. With paying for a date, I like it when a guy pays mainly because who doesn’t like a free meal? But in truth I think that whoever does the asking/planning should pay. When you’re in a relationship, go dutch or alternate who pays. If both parties are earning an income, there should be some semblance of equity in the relationship. Also, if a guy says “the man pays,” I am ADAMANT about paying. I once had a date say that to me in front of our waitress. When she brought the bill, she gave it to me. I tipped her well.

    I like a guy holding doors open and even opening a car door. But only when getting in. I don’t understand the point of guys exiting the car and me just sitting there while he walks around to open it for me. I’m perfectly capable of opening the door. It’s also nice when a guy offers you his jacket when you’re cold or walking you to your car at night etc. Some of the gestures are more meaningful when they’re unexpected. Be careful being chivalrous in certain situations as it can send mixed signals…sorry for the long comment!

  4. Shewolf68 Says:

    Chivalrous Men rock! It ususally means they are in general, well mannered, dignified (at least in social settlings ;) have basic respect for Women.

    When I am walking up to a storefront and so a man, I do really appreciate the gesture when he opens the door to let me in first. It makes me happy in general that all basic civility has not been lost, and I feel good. When it doesn’t happen, I think, “How rude. What a no class tool!” but silently of course; it would be rude otherwise.

  5. Nick Says:

    I’m torn.
    I think anything less is rude.
    but I have seen many men, including myself get insulted for being chivalrous.

  6. kb Says:

    there’s a difference between chivalrous because it’s helpful, and for example the car thing Jessica talked about-making her wait, even if chivalrous, isn’t going to win you points with me at least. There really is also a difference between being polite and being stupid chivalrous-example, doors should be held behind you at the least for everyone, not just the girl you’re dating. also, thank you jon for pointing out that it can be overdone. remember to make sure your chivalry is helpful, and you’ll do okay. also, how long does the man paying go on? I mean, it’s one thing to treat the first few times, particularly if he asked. but if you’re dating for a year and a half, how many guys still pay every time? and how is that not both a huge expense for him, and creepy for her?

  7. Emma W. Says:

    Chris – it DOES make you fucking cool.

  8. figleaf Says:

    Of course one of the problems with chivalry, as opposed to, you know, courtesy, is that it’s pretty much defined as that which is overdone. Going back at least as far as Sir Walter Raleigh’s cape chivalry has been about puffing one’s self in order to appear indispensable to one’s inamorata. With the corollary being that sometimes it’s easier to instead diminish said inamorata than to inflate one’s self. (Thus the hoisting chairs, the hoisting of hats, insisting on paying, and otherwise behaving as if women were frail, helpless objects.)

    For example it’s chivalry to insist on paying for her dinner even when she offers. More darkly, it’s also chivalrous to be insulted, resistant, or condescending if she insists it’s her turn to pay for herself and/or you. Courtesy, on the other hand, tends to require at least the possibility of mutual respect. Continuing the example its courteous to insist on paying for dinner since she paid for it last time, or to let her pay if she reminds you it’s her turn.

    figleaf

  9. Johnny Says:

    Figleaf’s right – courtesy goes way, way beyond good manners. A truly “chivalrous” guy would never dream of sullying his purest love by, say, giving her a squirting orgasm.

    Women don’t want chivalry. They want respect and courtesy. All those wet-towel weenies you dumped, the ones who paid for everything and held out your chair and drove you all over the place but never busted a move? They were chivalrous. That meat head who gets into a fist-fight over you because he thinks another meat head insulted your honor? Also chivalrous.

  10. AlanK Says:

    This is a little silly. Some of the rules of “chivalry” are just useful ways of getting through life: somebody has to be the first through the door, and the arbitrary rule is older before younger, man after woman. Somebody has to keep the door from slamming in your face. Walking on the “street” side no longer is necessary to protect your companion from horses, but you have to walk on one side or the other and paying attention to it means you’re paying attention to her.

    Some of the rules are erotic: pulling out a chair, standing when a woman enters or leaves, are ways of showing attention and making “casual” physical contact.

    Some of the rules are archaic but have been long modified. Men need not give up their seats to healthy women, but both should give up their seats to the frail or elderly. Some are archaic but amusing if done with flair. No man should think of ordering for a lady but it simplifies everyone’s life if…after determining her preferences…he orders for both.

    Some of the rules are part of normal courtesy. The one who asks, pays, unless the invitation is clearly one of “would you like to also get tickets and join us.” It is an amusing minor courtesy for a woman to offer to pay her share on a first or second date, but everyone knows this is a question for which the answer is “no.” Conversely, hospitality must be repaid, but only at an appropriate financial level: if I can afford opera tickets and you can afford movie tickets, please ask me to the movies. PIcking a movie I would like shows more consideration than paying a fortune for a concert I wouldn’t like.

    If you don’t like a ritual, just say so. Simply be aware that almost all our current courtesies are simply that…courtesies. Courtship is, or should be, a dance. If you don’t want to dance, fine. You’re missing something. I personally would not be interested in someone whose idea of wooing was saying “hey baby, what about it?” If you are, feel free to ignore this post.

  11. Trouble Says:

    For me it is about respect and manners – and the difference as mentioned already between courtesy and chivalry. As a woman, I hold doors open for anyone coming behind me, or towards me, or with bags in their hands, I will help people with shopping etc, will give up my seat to someone who may, if they wish, need it more than me (people with a walking stick, pregnant people or just folks who look exhausted and as though they need someone to be kind to them and give them a break).

    I like to help people out with change at toilets that have a charge, or entertain someone’s kid in the shop queue while their parent pays the bill or help carry someone’s pram up stairs etc.

    On dates I think it is a fine balance on the who pays for things – I don’t like men who insist on paying, in fact that will put a big no-no next to them for me – at the same time there is nothing nicer than being ‘treated’ – and both genders can do that. Have to say if a couple can’t figure out their comfort zone on this one then it might be a sign of future issues! Put it this way, so long as your courtesy makes the person feel happy and loved (by their definition not yours) rather than patronised or condescended too because of their age/gender etc then it is all good. My favourite example of courtesy is my hubby sitting ‘tap end’ when we share a bath!!!

  12. Lady Tarrant Says:

    Yes, chivalry is damn fucking cool.

    A note concerning who gets the check: Courting gives a man the chance to convince a female that he’s not just another prick, but is worth her valuable time. As such, the man should pay for the dates as long as they’re dating, because HE’S courting her, not vice versa. However, once it becomes a steady relationship, then sure, going dutch or she treats him is just fine.

    Back to chivalry: Chivalry goes hand in hand with courting, but it most certainly doesn’t stop there. It is to a degree, a code of conduct, but it also a mind set. Treating others with due courtesy and respect should not be considered a bad thing, and that is ultimately what chivalry is supposed to be. Over-dramatization, such as outlined by Johnny should not be condoned, but perhaps these people just need some direction instead of criticism. Hey, at least they’re trying, which is a lot better than the pricks who think they’re entitled to treat a girl anyway they want just be their ego says so.

    Also regarding Jay Jay’s and Nick’s post: We females have a RESPONSIBILITY to show appreciation and respect for a man who treats us with good manners. It’s hardly fair for females to bitch about there being no good men left, when they (the females) are stepping all over a man who goes the extra mile for her. Rudeness only breeds rudeness and hostility.

    As for not liking to be treating like a frail object, well, I don’t like it either. But I’m secure enough in myself that if a man gets a door, the check, my coat, pulls out a chair, or gives me his coat, I somehow manage not get my panties in a bunch. I realize that he is being CONSIDERATE and is making an EFFORT. If for some reason I get the impression that he’s being overbearing or domineering, I let him know that he’s going a bit overboard–nicely. Because, after all, the poor bastard may not realize how he’s coming off, and we don’t need to contribute to making nice guys into assholes. And if he really is just an ass, then I don’t mind him paying at all; hell, he owes me at least dinner at that point.

    Last note: If a woman feels threatened by a man holding a door open for her, then mayhap she needs to take those sorts of issues up with her therapist. That sort of lack of self confidence is just unhealthy.
    I know it was a long post so if you got this far, Thanks.

  13. searchingwithin Says:

    Chivalry and courtesy is not stating that a woman is frail or weak in my opinion, but rather showing her respect and treating her like a Queen.

  14. -R Says:

    The trouble is that the social goalposts have moved since the rules of chivalry were first drawn up. Not only do women have greater parity in pay and independence but there’s also the fact that the sexes spend much more time together. Gone are the days where the men would shoot and the ladies take tea before coming together at dinner. Chivalry is much for effective in smaller measure; I think anyone exposed to 18 solid hours of social condescension would ultimately find it a little tiring .

  15. Nadine B. Says:

    Chivalry is most welcome; please let it come back into fashion. Even if it seems a bit silly to wait around for him to be impractical (like exiting a car), I kind of like seeing his effort. His chivalrous gestures scream “I was not raised by wolves! Please consider me!” It makes me think he’s looking for a lady, rather than a lay.

    Taking away a suitor’s chance to wear the pants is lame. Let him show you his goods. Let him strut. If things keep going well, you’re going to want to know he knows how to be a man, beyond cosmetic manners. If he knows how to treat a lady, maybe he’s learned to not blow the mortgage payment on a weekend bender; I say this as a recovering pants-thief. If he really believes in protecting his lady fair, he’ll know that it will hurt her feelings if they start receiving foreclosure notices. A chivalrous gent will call a plumber, when he realizes that he doesn’t have a clue. He will lay claim to her when an interloper makes an untoward comment, because he gives a damn about protecting his interests, not because he doesn’t think she can’t.

    There’s something oddly erotic about the formality, as well. You both know when there are sparks. But, there’s something more intimate about the subtlety. You’re both anticipating your time to be informal, and can’t wait. He brushes your neck when he takes your coat, the way he holds your hand, getting out of the car, taking your arm and pulling you close while walking… it’s on your mind.

  16. Lady Tarrant Says:

    Holy shit! Thank you Nadine B.! You put it so well. I especially appreciate the last part.

    Chivalry (in a gender role sense) is not supposed to be about doing things because a man feels a woman can’t, it’s about treating her as a lady. That means being sensitive to her needs and desires, even if her desire is to open her own door or to pay the bill, or if she needs someone to open that damn pickle jar. And in return she is to act like a gracious lady and give acknowledgment and appreciation.

  17. Puf Says:

    Thank you Chris. Your whole post is spot on.

  18. John Says:

    Men have always been known for their chivalry. If they are treated well by women, they get treated better in return. If women want to be taken good care of by their men, they need to respect and treat their men with dignity.


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