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I was raised by a pretty conservative, deep south, old-time manners family. I now live in Portland and recently had a date of mine ask me why I stood up for her at a restaurant when she got up from, then returned to the table (from the bathroom).
Is it time to end that tradition?
I’m a modern gal. I work outside the home; I mow the lawn and shovel the driveway; I can match at least half of my guy friends drink-for-drink. I know how hard the women who came before worked to make all of this so. (Yes, that’s what the suffragettes had in mind when they picketed in the cold with signs–“Someday our granddaughters will puke in the alley behind the bar, just like the men do.”) I recognize that my rights and freedom were not always a given, and I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had.
But I’m a sucker for chivalry. It makes me feel lovely and feminine and special. There are some people, both men and women, who feel that the time for chivalry has passed. These men say, “Guess what, you wanted equality, open your own damn door.” I get that. These women say, “Guess what, we wanted equality, we’ll open our own damn door.” I get that. Because chivalry, strictly defined, is only men showing courtesy toward only women, it is just another way of making the sexes different and of establishing gender roles. This does not jive with feminism, which is built on the belief that men and women are equal in all measures.
I know all this, and the reasoning behind it fuels many other beliefs I hold…but still…oh, so weak….I want a man to hold open the door for me. It’s that simple. I am filled with goodwill towards the guy who pulls out my chair and takes my coat. And I have yet to actually meet a woman who has her panties in a bundle over having had the door held open for her. Conservative, liberal, straight, lesbian, traditional, radical–I’ve heard all types gush about chivalrous behavior. And really, when you boil it down, isn’t chivalry just good manners?
Brian, you are a rare bird in an era of people screaming into their cell phones while in public and young starlets getting out of limousines spread-eagle while not wearing underwear. Civility is made up of small acts of kindness and respect, and most of them are fading away into memory and dust. I can think of nothing more appealing than a man who acts courteously towards his date. I hope when she leaves the table, you keep standing up–for her, and for chivalrous acts everywhere.
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