The Rules of Chivalry: Practicing the New Cool and Stylish Trend
By Meta J. Mereday
Whether it is a young boy saying “please” and “thank you” to a gentleman holding a chair for a lady or helping her with her coat, it is never too early or too late to engage in the rules of chivalry.
This lost art of courtesy and consideration is slowly making a comeback.
According to several definitions, the rules of chivalry are broken down into three areas: duties to countrymen, duties to God and duties to women.
The first duty pertains to such virtues as mercy, fairness, courage and protection of the poor.
The second duty encompasses practicing godly qualities such as faithfulness, generosity and championing good over evil.
The third duty is the one most familiar to our society, and it entails taking care of ladies with courtesy and gentleness.
Under the more recognized rules of chivalry, the gentleman stands when a lady enters a room, pulls out her chair and pays the bill on the first date. With the increased self-sufficiency of women and the rise of the women’s movement, the rules of chivalry took a back seat in the societal bus as women began to spread their own wings and pay their own way.
A classic song from the legendary Motown group, The Temptations put it simply, “Treat Her Like A Lady” and it spoke to the resurgence of gentlemen who were too often unsure about how to approach women and whether their chivalrous acts would be appreciated.
The song starts out with… “Now, I’m the kinda of guy who don’t believe that chivalry is dead….Cause I believe the woman should be treated with the utmost respect….if it’s the world of celebration, so easy to forget…that it’s so nice to find a man, whom that’ll lend a helping hand (you can bet).”
The rules of chivalry reportedly took a beating during the rise of the feminist movement. Women seeking parity in the workforce and respect in the board rooms resented men pulling out chairs and opening doors.
While the achievements that women made in the workforce did come at a great price, the rules of chivalry and the positive virtues that they entailed also were relegated to the back of that bus.
Something had to change to improve not only office courtesies but general practices in the home and at social engagements.
According to AskMen.com, the rules of chivalry have a modern twist to maintain the gentle and courteous acts by men that won’t seem sexist to the independent woman.
The rules include: guiding the woman through the room with your hand on the small of her back and opening the car door for her. They suggest that moving her to the inside of the sidewalk is a chivalrous move as well as paying the bill for the first date. However, letting her win is not chivalrous and if she does want to pay, at least the offer was made.
And as we talk about relationships between men and women, we must incorporate good manners overall and the impact on the resurging rules of chivalry.
Courtney Hartline, contributing writer of “Are Chivalry and Manners Dead?” for The Merciad wrote, “Feminism and the women’s rights movement have not ended chivalry or curbed women’s appreciation for a kind gesture. Yes, feminism has changed many things about being a woman in society, but it does not call for a complete abandonment of manners.
“Sure, women are much more independent nowadays than they have ever been. But despite that, a considerate Y chromosome has always been and will forever be appreciated and respected in the eyes of a woman. ”
Good manners start with early training and foster the type of world that the three duties of chivalry were intended.
“The Importance of Good Manners,” by Susan Leigh outlines the importance of chivalry and manners now.
“Good manners provide a moment in time where someone stops and considers our needs, offers us a seat, asks us politely for something with a ‘please’ and says ‘thank you’ afterwards. These niceties may only take a second, but they are an important second in our busy world of rushing around, solely thinking of ourselves and what we need to do.
“Those moments can make us stop and consider the importance of noticing the other person, the waitress, the sales person. Do we really need to bark out our orders, commands, demands? How much more pleasant would it be for all concerned if we asked for something politely, with a ‘please’ at the end of the request; and acknowledged receipt of it with a smile and a ‘thank you’.”
Leigh highlights what happens when the opposite happens. “Road rage is evidence of extreme bad manners and inconsideration, which usually involves one person driving inconsiderately whilst the second person reacts in an outraged fashion….. Good manners are about appreciating that life is not all about us and what we want. Our needs have to be negotiated along with everyone else’s’.”
In South Carolina, a middle school teacher began a club teaching chivalry and manners to the young men in his class. Newberryobserver.com Staff Writer Natalie Netzel profiled Robert Flint and his activities in the article, “Young men ‘bring back’ chivalry in school.” In the article, Flint discusses the impact of exposing his students to good practices.
Flint says that he has had compliments flow from the high school and come back to him. “Teachers at the high school have called administration and complimented how nice the young men are acting… opening doors for all the females. They are acting in a respectful manner and saying yes ma’am, no ma’am.”
Flint also tells how the young men come back to him and tell him how they’ve changed for the better. He explains how the club helps the boys to open up and become more outgoing and take on challenges such as joining JROTC or take a challenging class or take on challenges. Along with taking on and overcoming challenges, the young men help out the community with service projects.
The rules of chivalry are part of a cool and stylish trend that is re-emerging with acts of courtesy and consideration. This is a game changing movement that is part of the new cultural dynamic that has increased awareness about the importance of civility and kindness. Please join the movement and pass it on. Thank you.
Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.