Did chivalry die at the hands of equality?

Watching the generations of men in my family, my Grandfather, Father and Brother, I see the level of respect for women expressed in different ways but nevertheless always expressed. My Grandfather would stand when a woman entered the room and raise his hat as he passed a lady on the street. My Father would open doors, hold your chair at the dining table and help you with your coat. My Brother was raised to do the same and with three sisters he got lots of practice!

Don’t get me wrong, we are all about equality in our family. My Mother and sisters and I have worked alongside the men on the farm or doing whatever hard laboring messy job that had to be done. Then Mum would go home and cook a hot meal for six of us every day of our lives. My Father took care of me when Mum had to work to support us and could cook a meal and wash laundry. We children were raised doing everything so we are all capable, competitive and independent. The gender roles were somewhat blurred for us and we grew up aware of but not restricted by them.

Growing up in Australia, my generation reaped the benefit of equality of the genders. As a woman, I was able to choose my own career, forge my own path and make my own decisions, responsible and accountable to only myself. I have always been so grateful for that especially as others have not been so fortunate. However I think it’s a shame men often feel confused as to what women expect of them in this world of equal rights and responsibilities.

A real woman can do it herself; but a real man won’t let her.

Who is to blame? In many instances its women ourselves. There is absolute strength and common sense to demand equal rights but that also should mean we don’t require “special treatment” and will treat others equally.

Chivalry is the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor and dexterity in arms. Later it started to mean courtesy and high-minded consideration, especially shown to women. It is not exclusively for women or by men. Surely it’s a level of respect and good manners from which we can all benefit.

If you get to the door first, hold it open for others regardless of your gender. Fill your spouse’s vehicle with fuel without having to be asked and while you’re there get the air pressure checked in the tyres. Welcome your friend or spouse to your home with their favorite beverage and snack. Cook their favorite meal or order their favorite junk food even though you don’t like it. Watch a movie you didn’t choose and instead enjoy your friend’s pleasure in it. Gentlemen, open her car door and watch her heart melt.

On a date, ask permission for that first touch of her hand. There is nothing more impressive than those that give of unconditionally of themselves. For men, you can rest assured your acts of chivalry will touch her heart and soul in question. For women, your acts of chivalry will impress a man more than the brand name of your hand-bag or the height of your heels.

Michelle Bailey
Coach and Director EMEA Business Development