Author’s note: This started as a forum post on Fetlife that I thought I should expand upon.
The concept of chivalry is the baby in the throwing out the bath water scenario when it comes to gender equality.
Even by the most basic definition, the word chivalry is about the moral and religious code of knights…me being an atheist aside, I will just go with the moral code…however, in this world of pc a knight is no longer considered valiant and romantic. It is too masculine by today’s standards causing an immediate disconnect with the concept. Instead it is tossed out as some old boys club of chauvinism.
There are pockets that realize chivalry is a much grander scope when one takes the warhorses, jousting, armor and damsels in distress out of the equation. See…math solves everything.
These days it is not even a gender specific attitude any longer.
Yet it is still defeated? Why?
Respect…or lack there of. People no longer respect each other. Thanks to a media that is quick on the draw to show negative stories for shock value, we have followed in the steps of Mulder & Scully and trust no one. We see everyone as a potential predator even though crime rates are down from where they were years ago. People go off on the smallest provocation claiming to have been “dissed”. People are offended simply by a difference of opinion.
The modern view is that respect must be earned…and re-earned over and over again. Our need for instant gratification requires us to continually prove that we are worthy of this respect…to quote from Neil Gaiman’s Stardust on this point…
“Reputations you know, a lifetime to build, seconds to destroy.” – Captain Shakespeare
The chivalrous view is that respect is given…and ripped away once proven unworthy. One does not need to be motivated to respect and assist…in fact, one must be given a reason not to help.
Chivalry is still there, though…bubbling under the cover of strength in politeness when dealing with one who needs help. It is no longer the over powering drive to rush in to save the weak…now it is more about offering assistance while trying not to step on a land mine…thus the “rush” aspect has to be left out.
In fact, it seems to be stronger amongst bdsm communities and viewed as something of a sexual kink. As one commenter on the original forum post of this put it…the quickest way to a lady’s bed is through her head with charm and chivalry.
Is that all chivalry is now? A way for a guy to charm the knickers off a potential mate and help her spread her legs? As a guy, I admit it is a potentially nice side effect, but that is not the major reason why it interests me.
For me it is a return to that respect. This planet does not need more awareness about the different types of cancer, nor which country is currently starving, nor the current carbon footprint over the Tar Sands of Alberta…respect would cover all of these.
Respect the planet. Respect life. Respect each other.
I respect you, you respect me, I hold the door for you, we smile, nod and go our separate ways.
That’s all it is. Chivalry is respect.
And we seem to have lost it.
However, it will wake up…it will return…all pendulums do.