Chivalry is Dead Because You Weren’t Chivalrous in the First Place

(Day 9 of 30 in 30)
You know what thing I hate to see RTed on the Twitter almost more than anything?
“Maybe more men would stand up and be men if women would sit down and be ladies.”
Or whatever that trite, patriarchal trope is.
I hope you know that every time you RT that or anything of the sort, an adorable, chubby little cherub has its wings savagely ripped from its body and is tossed down from heaven into a pool of acid by its big toe.
I won’t bother breaking down the actual saying and its so-steeped-in-patriarchy-it-hurts wording. I won’t waste time explaining all the reasons why anything that involves me “sitting down” so that I might be considered “a lady” by some as-yet unidentified, presumed authority on the subject (who also presumably has a penis) is likely not something I’m interested in doing. Nor will I even begin to entertain heteronormative standards or the politicization of gender roles, as I believe any discussion of the sort will go over most heads. Instead I will say this, as I have said hundreds of times and will continue to yell until I am blue in the face;
Do the right thing because it is THE RIGHT THING. Not because of how someone might react to it. But simply because it is THE RIGHT THING.
If “being a man” in whatever iteration, by whatever definition, is important to you, then BE THAT. DO THAT. Be that man you desire to be because it is your desire, because you feel convicted about it, because you feel it is the right thing to do. And any shortcomings that you may experience in becoming or being that man? Accept them as your own failures. Don’t blame them on the supposed inability of a woman to “let you be a man.”
But even the “sit down and shut up so men can be men” thing is old. The newest thing is, “chivalry is dead because women killed it.”
Oh my God, the bullshit. It strangles me.
You mean to tell me you were so wishy washy in your chivalrous ways that a stranger not saying thank you for you opening a door was enough to make you stop doing it? Or a woman hollering about how independent she is and how she “don’t need you to do anything for her” suddenly sucked all the chivalry clean from your body? (If I had the patience I’d delve into how no man wants an evolved, independent woman until it’s time to discuss picking up the tab, but today is not the day for that.) You mean to tell me all it took for you to decide to not be chivalrous anymore was the manner in which some woman or a group of women reacted to it?
Or was it, as I suspect, that IT’S NOT WHO YOU ARE IN THE FIRST PLACE. But rather an act you wear like a costume to get a certain reward; a pretty woman’s number, another date, a pat on the southern head. And when that hasn’t worked out for you, when, God forbid, a woman dare not positively reinforce you doing just the bare minimum of common human decency, you decided women killed chivalry.
The truth of the matter is, if this is who you were at your core, and not a behavior you were willing to exhibit so long as it gets you a favorable outcome, no amount of doors held open without thank yous or I-am-woman-hear-me-roars could take it from you. Instead, you fake it ‘til you make it and then blame women when you can no longer manage the disguise.
I don’t accept this.
Therein lies the root of every piece of bullshit disguised as “advice” being dream sold to women across the Internet and in newspapers and magazines every single day; somehow our failings are all fault. We are too much or too little or too big or too small or too loud or too smart or too conscious or too something. But then also, our predilection for being “too” is the reason for YOUR bad behavior. Your failures are our fault. And no one gives even a parcel of a fuck about personal responsibility. Everything is, if women would just _____ then men would ______. Everything is our fault. It’s our fault you cheat because we’re not sexy/skinny/whorey enough. It’s our fault you rape because we left the house in shorts/a dress/any article of clothing deemed slutty. It’s our fault you hit because we talk back and we provoke. Our fault you leave your children because we shouldn’t have given away the milk for free and maybe if we just didn’t nag you so much. Our fault you date outside your race and lie and tell us on the street to smile and grope us in the public places and that you don’t let women off elevators first or walk on the outside on the sidewalk.
The simple fact of the matter is this; if you predicate your behavior based on someone else’s response, you’ve already lost. Hard. Spectacularly.
You fail.
This goes for everything.
Maybe this is me being too optimistic. Maybe I am giving (heterosexual) men more credit than they deserve. Maybe you really are baseless, craven creatures incapable of monogamy or controlling your sexual urges, prone to violent outbursts of jealousy and possession and incapable of emotion. Maybe. But I don’t buy it.
I think that’s a bullshit excuse some jackass hell bent on excusing and projecting his bad behavior has peddled, that other people bought because the package was all shiny and, ‘cuz, SCIENCE!  And because it’s easy. You aren’t responsible for what you say and do. Those damn women are!
It just kills me that so many of you are buying into it.
Either way, y’all gotta stop killing the heavenly cherubs out here. Pretty soon they will be the only ones still opening doors.

23 thoughts on “Chivalry is Dead Because You Weren’t Chivalrous in the First Place

  1. Chile listen. I put on my garment of praise and shouted ALL the way through this. Because if I have to hear ONE mo' gin about where women have gone astray and why men act out because it I am going to slap the black off of Wesley Snipes. I'm sending this to every man I know. fin.

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  2. Chivalry is an antiquated term. Women don't want chivalry because chivalry was a set of rules for treating property.

    You were the equivalent of a car.

    I think it's just a matter of common courtesy. In our society it's politcally correct to be discourteous to those who are discourteous to you as long as it won't affect you professionally.

    If the standard of chivalry is holding a door for a woman is holding a door. The standard of a lady is saying thank you. If either party breaks that contract then it becomes null and void.

    Simmply put…

    My ma told me to treat women a certain way, and this varies upon her “class” level. If a woman shows me that she is discourteous than she's lowered in my vision and doesn't reserve the full amount of “chivalry” she expects.

    This is a lot for a comment section, but just for examples
    1. Walking closer to the street when with a lady.
    2. Paying
    3. Opening Doors
    4. Waiting til she's in her home before driving.
    5. Knocking on her door instead of sending a text when I've arrived.

    All different things I've been taught and are allotted according to her level of Lady…

    Chivalry is directly proportionate to Lady

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  3. listen…
    you went to church, mosque and temple in this one!

    this is the post i always want to write, but can never get past my frustration at the futility of it all.

    so i'm throwing my ENTIRE savings into the collection plate at this post!!!!

    and to reply to the dude above me: being charitable is something you should just do. as a person that worked in the sector for a while – i am not naive enough to think people give because it's the right thing to do, but because they want something else to brag about.

    at the end of the day, the charity will have your money, and your reasons for giving to them won't matter. but i will say that i always made sure to value the little old ladies who gave $10/month for 10 years straight, than give more credit to the major gift donors who just want the shine.

    in the end, give or don't give – no one can change your reasons for such other than you. period.

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  4. First, let me say that I enjoyed your post. It was a great read. A little angry (lol), but great nonetheless.

    I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything you said in your post. I don't think that chivalry is dead because women killed it. That is the biggest crock of bullshit that I've ever heard. One thing I must say, though is that our behaviors as men are learned. We don't come out of the womb knowing how to treat women, or what is appropriate when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. Those things are learned and frankly we aren't learning them. Whether it be our relationships with the people who are supposed to teach us those things or what we ascertain from popular culture, we just aren't learning how to be “men”. Thankfully, I had a father that did allow me to walk through a door before a woman, or ask a woman to go dutch on a date(just a few examples of what chivalry is perceived as). Not to say that I'm the perfect man, because that I am not, but some of the principles that I learned aren't neccessarily being taught to all men. Somebody has to teach us and if our professors are Rick Ross and Snoop Dogg (Was I the only person that felt some type of way seeing him walk down the red carpet with women on a leash?!?) how would we know and better?

    The one thing that I must disagree with is women distancing themselves from responsibility. Again, men act the way they act because they weren't taught any better or they know better and choose not to act accordingly. There is a socialization process that comes along with this, though. If you entertain men (not you specifically) that aren't chivalrous without at least checking them on it then the cycle continues to perpetuate itself.

    I apologize for the dissertation (I'm practicing, lol) but I've written a few posts that are closely similar to this and I think that the problem lies in the hands of both men and women. Regardless of fault we need to find a solution, because if we continue to point the finger at one another then nothing gets better.

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  5. So, you rant about how men think it's “all a woman's fault” & then turn the blame back around & go all fire & brimstone hard on how it's “all the man's fault” & really expect men to just accept this as true and think it'll foster progress in black male/female relationship dialogue? Right. Wonder what your man thinks about this, if you have one.

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  6. Jiburgess-

    I rarely comment on things I have written in the comment section because I find more often than not it becomes a shouting match for people intent on being heard no matter how wrong they are, rather than a venue for any thoughtful discourse, as you can see all around you. Lol I really appreciated your comment so I’d like to address it.

    I agree that behavior is learned. Which means by extension that behavior must be taught. That being said tho, there are 2 things that usually bother me about this part of the overall conversation; 1. Too many of us (and though this particular post deals with men, I am comfortable including women in this general statement as well) lean far too heavily on “what we were never taught” to the point of being an excuse. 2. Many times in conversations such as this, women are dismissed for their opinions because they “can’t teach men how to be a man because they have never been one.” But then we are blamed for “not teaching men” how to treat us. Or for reinforcing bad behavior by allowing it to prosper. But then if we try, we are trying to change men, and trying to teach them how to be men, which according to theory, we cannot do. There is quite a bit of mixed signals happening. I am not saying either is right or wrong. I am not saying that there should even be a hard and fast way to approach such situations. I am saying that it is understandable that there might be some disconnect on both sides about how best to broach the subject.

    Most importantly, I want any and all discussion to stay on subject; this isn’t about women “distancing themselves from responsibility.” It is about 2 things; 1. Men taking responsibility for themselves without the scapegoat of blaming women for their shortcomings. And 2. Women not allowing other people to continue to tell them what they should be ok with accepting blame for. I am not naïve enough to believe that humans don’t learn by positive or negative reinforcement. I am just not comfortable with the narrative that the responsibility in teaching and enforcing this falls to women.

    My problem is that far too often the conversation is about the onus of women to “make” a man behave a certain way rather than putting forth the same effort into encouraging men to hold themselves to standard. If I believed men were incapable of being decent without threat of retaliation or loss, then maybe I would be ok with this. But I don’t. And so I’m not.

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  7. “The simple fact of the matter is this; if you predicate your behavior based on someone else's response, you've already lost. Hard. Spectacularly.”:

    This is all that really needed to be said. It's this reactive behavior that gets folks panties all in a bunch when the act “chivalrous” and don't get the response they desire. Just do what's right, regardless of how is looking, her “class” or label of a lady or whatever.. just DO WHATS RIGHT.
    Thanks for the wonderful post La!

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  8. So… Making a rare appearance to say “amen!” This is real. Just a lil experience from my own life: when my husband was just my boyfriend, many years ago, we went to a concert. His mother was there as well. She decided to leave early, and he walked her out. At the time, I didnt get why- “she's an adult and she knows where the exit is.” But she created a standard in him that remained, and varied on to me, even when I didnt understand or appreciate it. So to say that a man would stop living up to his own standard because it goes unnoticed is just wrong. And honestly, dumb. You are allowing someone “unworthy” to change your nature for the worse. And if she can do that to you, how strong is your will? How much of a man are you really? Not in terms of manliness, in terms of a person with beliefs and standards.

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  9. Right, so your other posts “I have to do what for a grown ass man?” “These Niggas out here trippin'/tripping” along with this one show you really got a neutral agenda, are versed in the dos & don'ts of real relationships, & wanna progress the intellectual conversation of black relationships. If anything it shows you clearly need to get over yourself & your ego and find an outlet for your anger besides indiscriminately bashing men cuz you don't have one. Consider the sources ladies before you get all “amen/preach” & find yourself in this same position. I agree @ The Villain

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  10. I enjoyed this post. I agree with you that everyone should do what is right. Nevertheless you are bitter and obviously without a man. These post shall keep you warm at night.

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  11. Yes. To all of this, yes.

    What I don't understand is why men feel that an appropriate response to this post is to either a) defend the men being discussed or b) bachandedly blame women for not taking their share of the responsibility. This is obviously not about that.

    Look men, either you're down with chivalry, or you're not. Either you believe in treating women with respect or you don't. That's on you. That is a PERSONAL DECISION. One that should not be directly influenced or dictated by how a woman acts. Be good cause you're good. Or don't. Whatever.

    Did I mention yes. Amen. Preach. You go girl. You right. Let me know.

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  12. Oh, boy. Villain, Anonymous and GDAdams. *smh*

    La must have touched a nerve with this one. If this post didn't apply to you I can't see you getting all butt hurt over it…unless it does.

    Did La say ALL men? Did she mention you by name? No?

    OH, OK!

    Please have all the seats that are available and do something about your “you must not have a man” insults. As if having a man is the best thing any woman could ever hope to achieve in her lowly little life. As if having a man if the only thing that could make a woman's opinion ABOUT CERTAIN MEN valid.

    You three are really disgusting.

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  13. The urge to goon against the trolls is overwhelming. Y'all hit stray dogs better go holler elsewhere and respect La's space. Take that bitterness to the Lord and do some soul-searching cause neither she nor the one who struck you first can fix your inability to stay on topic on a commentary about SOME men without getting butt-hurt for no reason.

    Great post on so many levels La. Accountability for actions taken is something a lot of men too often shy away from. Messages like these need to be out there more frequently. Better for human relations on a whole.

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  14. Great post. Enjoyed the piece, aesthetically and substantively.

    One thought. We should try not to get frustrated that ppl don't meet our standards. Disappointment is better than betrayal. The only time we can really get mad is when someone pretends to meet our standards and then we find out they were really just lying to us..lol.

    Keep up the good writing.

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  15. Chivalry is not literally dead, only it's reason to exist is DEAD.

    And it's not because men's treatment towards women are based on women's response.

    It's just that it contradicts the concept of “equal treatment”.

    If you agree that men and women should be treated equally as human beings, then being a gentleman no longer makes sense. It basically means that only men are expected to give extra special treatment towards women while women are not expected to do the same thing for men. Because men have to EARN respect while women should GET respect from men. How is that considered “equal treatment”?

    Few examples of Chivalry from my country:

    1.) If a woman accidentally drops her pen on the floor, a man should pock it up for her.
    – sounds nice, many men in my country do that. But if a man had dropped his pen on the floor, NO woman would pick it up for him. Isn't that UNEQUAL TREATMENT?

    2.) If a couple walks at a side walk, the man should walk near a more dangerous area (near the highway) while a woman should always walk at a safer area.
    – Once again, an example of unfair treatment. A woman's life has value while a man's life has no value (males are disposable).

    Chivalry encourages male disposability – a man's life has no value and therefore disposable.
    Most of the soldiers who die in battle are MEN, and at one moment, the male population of Iran had severely decreased because of the Iraq-Iran war. That's the WORSE part of chivalry – it violates men's basic human right -the right to live.

    Please watch Youtube videos of men AND women explaining their take on Chivalry:

    1.) Tom Leykis -“stop being a gentleman, chialry is for pussyfied men.”

    2.) Feminism versus Chivalry

    – a.) Feminism: You're doing it wrong.

    – Yes, even women criticize chivalry.

    3.) The Ignored Gender:
    – a.) Rules of Chivalry criticized:

    – b.) Chivalry = Slavery:

    – c.) His observations and experiences with chivalry:

    Most Christians and agnostics believe in the golden rule: “Do unto others as you want others to do unto you”.
    Chivalry violates that rule. A woman expects a man to do things for her (pick up her pen, put her in a safer area, pull out her chair, etc), BUT she will never do those same things to a man.

    The only type of women who deserve special treatment are PREGNANT WOMEN, not because of their gender, but because of the unborn baby inside them, which could be
    male or female. Unborn babies are fragile and need SPECIAL CARE. If a pregnant woman smokes cigars and drinks beer, I could care less about her and be more worried about her baby.

    More on women who criticize chivalry from :

    Comments from females:

    “Chivalry is a double standard in today's society. Women want to be treated as if they are equal with men on a physical and intellectual level, but then they expect to be treated like princesses? I appreciate people doing nice things for me, and woman or man, I'll return the favor, but I don't ever expect special treatment on the grounds that I am a woman.”
    – by Essay Writer

    “At the same time, I don't like the tone of the quote as it implies feminism is a bad thing, and that wanting gender equality will lead to women losing out overall. It's saying “you shouldn't want equality. Look, that man bought you flowers! Isn't that better than having a job?” It's just horrifically sexist as a concept. “See?! Look what equality got you! Now you're equal, you don't get to be special.” It's subversive, and it's horrible.

    But yeah… “chivalry” is sexist. It's benevolent sexism against women, and it's sexism against men for forcing them into a role of servitude. Men and women are equals.”
    -by Team Candice

    Some people say chivalry is sexist against women, others say it is sexist against men.

    La, what can you say about women against chivalry?

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