Many people have heard the phrase “chivalry is dead,” but I prefer that the phrase be changed to “chivalry is dying, but respect is being born.”
In today’s society, there are still some men who open doors for women, pay the bill, and pull out chairs. But with the ever-changing dynamic between men, women, and non-binary* genders, those chivalrous norms are being questioned more and more.
When there is a couple that does not consist of a man and a women, then there is no social norm expected by society. By having no expectations placed upon them, the couple can decide on their own what they want to do. This takes the pressure off of the relationship to abide by the social norms and stigma that surrounds traditional heterosexual couples.
As feminism becomes more widespread, some women have become offended by men who act chivalrous, citing that these interactions imply that women are weak and need to be taken care of. This causes some men to be nervous when they are attempting to be polite by holding a door open or doing something similar.
Furthermore, some would say that men are placing women on a pedestal by being chivalrous. These men expect the women to be perfect and to never show any errors or emotions. These expectations are unrealistic and cause men to have romanticized versions of the perfect woman, which no person can live up to.
Today more women combat the negative implications of chivalry by learning to do things on their own, so that others don’t think that men are needed for the jobs like putting together furniture. Women are becoming less dependent on having a significant other around, and they want to show it through small things, such as splitting the bill or helping that significant other.
Rather than expecting one’s partner to be chivalrous, people should expect a basic respect from the people that they are in a relationship with. They should consider what each person wants and what they prefer from the relationship.
Building a healthy relationship comes from respect. When partners communicate with each other about their wishes, compromise with each other, and let the other person know their feelings are valid, then the partnership is about a mutual regard for one another.
Respect still matters because it is a two-way street that people of all genders can participate in. It is something that is traded back and forth between two people. Chivalry is something that is given from one person to another, without both people engaging with one another. Treating each other with respect causes less conflicts over seeing women as weak and men as disrespectful and leads to open communication between friends and partners.
When a partnership is unequal, as it is when chivalry is involved, then the partnership has become unhealthy. Equality in partnerships is declining because society is seeing that partnerships should be equal and balanced.
Although chivalry is antiquated, there should be certain aspects of it that endure. The respect that is evident in chivalry should continue. Partners should respect boundaries, treat each other equally, but also treat one another to dinner once in awhile, and be generally courteous.
Despite chivalry being around since the late middle ages, it’s time for men to stop treating women as inferior and to conform to this modern society.
Definition for non-binary:
*Non-Binary genders are gender identities that don’t fit within the accepted social ideals of male and female. People can feel they are both, neither, or some mixture thereof.