By Mia Lazzarini
Many a woman has complained that chivalry is indeed dead, especially in Gen Y. But do we have the right to complain if it is dead? We want liberation, we want equality, whilst simultaneously wanting male gallantry and valor. In a modern world of women’s liberation, is there any room for chivalry? I would argue no, no there is not… but I could very well be wrong.
Being the only girl in an office full of boys led to a heated, kidding-but-not-really discussion on chivalry that led me to this conclusion. It seems that boys are under the impression that girls still want and expect chivalry, believing that all girls simply want to be ‘looked after’.’ I was somewhat foolishly shocked, disagreeing wholeheartedly. I rather enjoy my independence and liberation thank you. But am I part of the minority? Do girls secretly crave looking after? And if so, at what cost?
The Mad Men sensation has certainly had an impact on the chivalry debate. Characters such as Jon Hamm’s Don Draper have undoubtedly renewed woman’s desire for gallantry and old-school manners. But do we really want a man like Don Draper? Obviously smart and gorgeous are hard features to overlook (even I can’t help being charmed by him), but he is also an absolute bastard. Chivalry comes at a cost. Men opened doors and pulled out chairs for women as an act of dominance; asserting their power. The modern ‘well-mannered’ guy probably isn’t considering this aspect though, simply doing what they were taught by their mother’s. At least I hope so.
Overall, Gen Y has been put in a difficult position. On the one hand we are taught that we should all be treated as equals. On the other, we are taught to be well mannered; men should be gentlemen and women should be ladies. But if being a gentlemen means opening doors, what does being a lady mean? Putting on your circa 1950s apron and cooking your man a hearty meal for when he arrives home from work? Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I personally will not be engaging in anything of the sort simply because a door is opened for me. You can take your chivalry back as far as I’m concerned if it means returning the favour in a ‘lady-like’ way.
This has likely raised more questions than it has actually answered. I do not believe that there is room for chivalry and old-world ‘manners’ in a modern society, but it is very plausible that I am wrong. Is there a solution that finds a happy medium? Can women be both liberated and the proper lady? Is it possible to have both equality and chivalry? I’ll leave you to ponder that one yourself.