Wise Guys: What's the Deal with Chivalry?

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 Comments on "Wise Guys: What's the Deal with Chivalry?"

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6 years 3 months ago

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.

6 years 4 months ago

Thank you Chris. Your whole post is spot on.

Lady Tarrant
6 years 5 months ago

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.

Nadine B.
6 years 5 months ago

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.

6 years 5 months ago

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 .