“Chivalry is dead.” It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard, referring to the opinion that men simply aren’t as honorable and gentlemanly to women these days as they once were. In the past, men were held to a high standard in regard to how they treated women. Now, however, men seem to have abandoned the old, honorable way of treating women in exchange for more selfish, vulgar ways. Many women, however, are pleased with the supposed death of chivalry because they believe it to be an outdated, misogynistic ideal that has no place in modern society. So, which is it—is chivalry dead, or is it just sexist?
Let’s go through a few of the most common acts of chivalry.
A man is expected to pay for his date’s dinner and movie. This chivalrous act is largely still in use, but more and more people each day are breaking out of the old-fashioned routine. The idea of somebody paying for another’s meal seems harmless, but when it is expected that men do so for women, it becomes sexist. Men should not be expected to pay for a woman’s drinks, food or anything else unless both parties are OK with it. This doesn’t mean each person should pay for his or her own meal, necessarily. Women can invite men out on dates and pay for their dinners if they please. Then men, if they feel so inclined, can repay the favor on the next date. The same idea goes for any relationship in which both members are the same sex — whoever wishes to pay should do so, and if both want to pay their own bills, so be it.
Next: there’s a lot of aggravation regarding the elevation of the urination station seat. If you’ve ever lived in a house in which a man and a woman share a bathroom, you may have heard the woman complain about the position in which the man left the toilet seat after using the restroom. Men are anatomically privileged with the ability to urinate while standing, so they have no use for a toilet seat and will often lift it out of their way. It’s a common belief that a gentleman should always lower the toilet seat after he is finished, so as to make a woman’s bathroom-going experience better. This argument is probably the most insubstantial of the ones regarding chivalry because it’s incredibly easy to raise or lower a toilet seat based on one’s needs. Also, needing to use the restroom and having to lower the toilet seat before doing so is not only a task forced upon women. Believe it or not, men also sit sometimes to use the restroom. If the toilet seat is raised, they will have to lower it too. In my opinion, the most honorable thing a man can do is lift the toilet seat in the first place. Having grown up in a house full of males, I know perfect aim, while a noble endeavor, is a futile ambition. Remembering to lower the toilet seat is a simple act that is harmless and kind, so men should try to do so — lowering or not lowering the seat does not, however, reflect a man’s character.
Regarding seats and chivalry: a common practice in chivalry is that a man should give up his seat on a bus for a woman who would otherwise have to stand. Now the man is standing and the woman is sitting. Was anything solved? Not really. Able-bodied people of any gender should offer their seats to the elderly and infirm because they may have difficulty standing for long periods of time. If a man or woman is holding a child, others on the bus should offer their seat. To give up a seat for a woman merely because she is a woman gives the idea that women are too dainty or fragile and can’t stand on the bus, which is blatantly misogynistic.
Similarly, many believe a man should always hold the door for a woman. This one is pretty simple, because everybody should hold doors for everybody else, regardless of gender, and the world will be a happy place.
The true problem with chivalry is the word itself. “Chivalry” refers to the honor code upheld by knights in medieval times, which makes the term ineffective for several reasons. First of all, the medieval time period took place in Europe, and it ended half a millennium ago, which makes it almost completely inapplicable to modern life in the United States. Secondly, women couldn’t become knights in medieval times, so the entire idea of chivalry is inherently sexist. Decency, however, is a term that can apply to everybody. Instead of men needing to be chivalrous, how about everybody just be decent to one another?