Wednesday, 15 May 2013


I have heard that chivalry is dead. It is always said with a shake of the head, a pursing of the lips. It's dead, and that's all there is to it.

Given the sorrow of the messenger, it seems inappropriate to launch into a rousing rendition of "ding dong, the witch is dead," so I bite my tongue. I weave my fingers together to keep the jazz hands under control, and I keep my feet firmly on the ground-- there will be no dancing in celebration yet.

Because, damnit, chivalry is not dead. But I think it's on it's way. In its place, I hope to find the most unusual of social beasts: manners.

Oh yes, let's keep those two seperate, shall we?

When you are using good manners, you are treating everyone with respect and kindness, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, ability, clothing choices... You get the idea. Chewing with your mouth closed? Holding the door when someone has an armload of groceries? Sending a thank you note? Those are manners, and they apply to all. Use them. Really. People notice.

Chivalry, on the other hand, is based on the idea that a laaaady cannot or should not do a damn thing for herself. Holding a door for a woman because she's a woman? Letting her get on/off the elevator first?  Opening the car door for her, even though that means you have to walk around the car twice? Yeah, that's just silly. And-- wait for it-- sexist.

Yes, yes, I know. You have the purest of intentions. You've been raised "right." You just want to be respectful.

You know what's respect? Treating a person as a person, not as a delicate piece of spun sugar. Looking at your behaviour, and realizing when it is out-dated.

Of course you can still hold the door open for me, if you get to it first. I'll do the same for you! And if I look like I'm struggling with a suitcase, a purse, some grocery bags, and all the tea in China... Well, yes, I very well might appreciate your help carrying or holding some things-- and I will happily do the same for you, if you ever need it.

But taking my tiny suitcase from me when it is the only thing I am carrying? Tripping all over yourself to let me be the first off of the elevator? Dashing ahead to grab the door, before I'm forced to
open it with my sweet little feminine hand?

That makes us both look ridiculous.

So when chivalry dies, I'll be at the wake. I'll be singing, and dancing, and wildly disrespectful of the dearly departed. And when the food has been eaten, and the wine has been drunk, and we are all heading for the door, well. If you get there first, you can hold it for us both. But if I'm the first, I'll do the holding, k?

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