Is chivalry dead? Maybe not, but it’s certainly on its deathbed. I’m a cynic and my sarcastic sense of humor has often been cited as rude, but it does make life a bit easier when we live by the “do unto others…” rule.

Chivalry is defined as a code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood. Well, I’m no knight of the round table, but growing up in a family dominated by females, I have learned a thing or two about chivalry, and just manners in general.

It has been my observation in my years at SF State as a college student that this concept has skipped the latter of my generation. The act of holding doors open, pulling out chairs or buying one of those adorable vodka cranberries that girls love doesn’t seem to be important anymore.

Now, I don’t know if this is due to our interpersonal communication skills being jaded by advancements in technology where we can’t communicate without an “OMG,” or if it is just how we grew up.

This is not a gendered problem. While us guys should always be gentlemen to the opposite sex, I’ve seen a lack of decency in our better halves. It’s 2012, by golly! We should ALL show decency as human beings.

One particular incident occurred while I was with one of my editors. We both experienced a lack of chivalry, or a helping hand, from our fellow college students while pushing numerous shopping carts (ones that you would find at a grocery store) from the third floor of the Humanities Building. I don’t expect too much, but being allowed to use the elevators before two girls, (God forbid they walk down three flights of stairs), would have been helpful. But alas, we were left in the dust and seen off with a “Uh, I don’t think there’s room.”

It seems like a petty complaint, but it’s the little things that seem to stick out the most.

I can also recall an incident earlier this semester. In between making myself deaf with my iPod, I held a door open for a professor. “Finally, a gentleman,” she said.

It’s such an instinct that I don’t think too much of it. Plus, it’s “hella” easy and it makes mama proud. I was very fortunate and blessed to have a good relationship with my dad who showed me the ropes of chivalry — while telling me to pull his finger — so I intend to pass on the skills of the Wilson clan. He put an emphasis on holding car doors open, offering to pay for meals and pulling out chairs. At a young age, he gave one specific reason as to why I should follow this agenda: Chicks dig it.

I’ve been in a steady relationship for about three years and I’m hoping this and my personal decisions come across as a positive reflection of my father’s teachings. But even all parents aside, our culture is supposed to ingrain these same values. They just seem to have been ignored.

Chivalry is not limited to the acts aforementioned. As I said earlier, it could be simple manners. Working in a customer service environment my whole life from a barback to a barista, I’ve interacted with various types of people — people and acts of rudeness have ranged from no please or thank you, throwing money on the counter instead of simply handing it over, talking on the phone while placing orders, or always my favorite, having too much superiority over others to acknowledge someone else’s existence.

It’s a fairly easy action to engage in and together we can prevent chivalry from meeting its hole in the ground.

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Brad Wilson

Brad Wilson

  • saharris

    Chivalry is more than just opening doors – it’s about respect and self-improvement. It is akin to Areté, a core Ancient Greek virtue that was the excellence born from seeking to fulfill purpose, realize possibilities, and expend every last drop of potential and ability. Here is a modern chivalric code:
    “Upon my honor,
    1. I will develop my life for the greater good
    2. I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth
    3. I will never boast, but cherish humility instead
    4. I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word
    5. I will defend those who cannot defend themselves
    6. I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises
    7. I will uphold justice by being fair to all
    8. I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship
    9. I will abhor scandals and gossip – neither partake nor delight in them
    10. I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help
    11. I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven
    12. I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward
    By adhering to these Twelve Trusts, I swear to partake in the living Quest in everything I do.”
    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chivalry-Now

  • Rose

    This is great. You make some good points. Those little chivalrous actions really do make a difference. I’m a woman, but I hold doors open for people – including men – when I feel it would be rude to do otherwise. It’s just a simple thing that reminds others that there are still considerate people in this world. Chivalry lives on!

  • http://www.chivalrynow.net Christopher

    Mr. Wilson,
    This is one of the better articles I have read concerning the current state of Chivalry in our culture. It acknowledges that it is not just a man’s responsibility but a woman’s and indeed the culture’s responsibility to see that it lives on.

    While politeness and concern for your fellow person is a big part of chivalry other character traits do exist such as honesty, integrity, courage, prowess, and trustworthiness which, without being hokey, are traits that help to bolster not only ourselves but our culture as well.

    Chivalry is the drive in us to be our greatest self which is the core of what Mr saharris was saying above. Arete’

    Well done sir and thank you for the article,

    Christopher

  • Eric

    please do come to New England where in general chivalry is still alive and well