What is chivalry? The average person would probably tell you that it’s when a man opens the door for a woman, or walks her home. Simply a man being a so called gentleman.
Now if you look the word up in dictionaries you will find it in one way or the other defined as the sum of qualities expected by knights of the Middle Age, such as honour, courtesy, bravery, loyalty, courage, readiness to help the weak, justice, generosity and gallantry. The gallantry especially towards women. And all these words have definitions of their own.
Honour – honesty, fairness, or integrity in one’s beliefs and actions. Loyalty – faithfulness towards commitments or obligations. Generosity – readiness to give, but also the freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character.
No matter which word you take, they’re all quite big. There was a lot asked of a knight. And there’s still a lot asked of men, if we want them to be chivalrous.
But why is it only asked of men? Aren’t these the kind of values that we would like to see in anybody?
If you search for quotes about chivalry you find more or less two sorts. The ones that say chivalry is dead and the ones that wish for more chivalry, which in a way states that they so far can’t find any. Does that mean chivalry is really dead? Maybe it’s just me being romantic, but I don’t think so. I think we are only looking for the wrong kind of chivalry.
Gallantry is amongst other things defined as polite attention or respect given by men to women. Sounds a lot like the average expectation of what chivalrous behaviour should look like. But it’s by definition only a part of chivalry. And then again gallantry also means courageous and noble-minded behaviour. I like the second definition better. Not because I think a man shouldn’t respect a woman and treat her politely. No, not at all. But I think it’s wrong that it is only expected of men. Women should respect and treat men politely all the same. In my opinion chivalry as such should as well be expected of women.
We are no longer living in The Middle Ages. This is a new time. A time we are fighting for equality. And equality has got no limits! A woman’s hopes of equality shouldn’t be questioned because she asks for chivalry. As long as she is willing to be chivalrous herself. Being chivalrous doesn’t make a woman less female, it only makes her a better person. Being chivalrous makes everybody a better person. You just need to find the knight within yourself.
Today’s chivalrous people are the new knights. Fighting for a better world. Together. Male and female.