Knights of the 21st century

Is chivalry as we know it dead?

Samantha Stulen | Staff Writer

While knights of old followed a code of chivalry, knights of the twenty-first century follow guidelines for chivalry, according to social studies teacher Vance Reid.“I’ve been with my bride, my lovely woman, my better half, for 28 years,” Reid said. “We go out on a date; I still open her door. It’s just what you do.”

However, Reid said that he recognizes how times have changed due to the women’s right movement, and that now chivalry encompasses a different set of rules.

“If you’re young, and you want to share the cost [when it comes to eating out], when I was growing up, [the norm] was men paying for [dinner],” Reid said. “I understand that things change, and I’m okay with that, but [people should] treat women with respect and treat everybody with respect.”

The Oxford English Dictionary describes chivalry as courteous behavior, especially from men to women. Senior Sarah Brindza said she agrees with this traditional definition of chivalry.

“[Chivalry] to me is a genuine gentlemanliness,” Brindza said. “[A man] being there [to make] the woman feel respected and special by going out of [his] way to do things for her.”

Brindza, a native of Tennessee, said the proper use of manners is more prevalent in the South.

“I notice a lot more manners and courtesy in the South,” Brindza said. “Down south, people were raised with a lot of manners. My sister went to etiquette school, and I went to the ‘Etiquette for a Day’ in Girls Scouts,” Brindza said.

While Brindza said the South places importance on manners, the North is considered polite as well, but not as strict on learning proper etiquette.

“I do notice chivalry and manners up here, . . . [but] it’s just a different environment [in Mason], especially with the South being in the Bible Belt,” Brindza said.

Whereas Reid said he believes in the vitality of modern chivalry, Brindza said she thinks chivalry is dead.

“[Chivalry is] hanging on by a thread,” Brindza said. “A lot of people nowadays don’t have respect for women, especially with the media and how [it] treats women like objects. [The media] makes other people think that [women are] not as well respected.”

Reid and Brindza both said they are proponents for chivalry, but not as strict as they used to be enacted.

“My parents and grandparents raised me that women are to be treated from a male in a fashion to open doors for them, but I’m not going to throw my coat down over a mud puddle and let [a woman] walk across it,” Reid said.

Brindza said she likes chivalry in the context of a man performing gallant acts towards women, but she does not want to discomfort him.

Sophomore Morgan Liddic said she tries to do things for her boyfriend so he does not have to go out of his way constantly for her.

“I don’t always reject [chivalry], but sometimes I feel like I should do some things for him,” Liddic said. “I don’t want him to feel like he always has to do things for me.”

Liddic said she does not decline her boyfriend’s courteous acts, but wants to do things for him as well such as cooking for him and generally paying for herself. According to Liddic, the term chivalry does not solely apply to boy-girl interaction, but as general courtesy to everyone that she strives to practice in her own life.

“I’m very courteous to other people,” Liddic said. “I’m a cheerleader; I’m really good at making up choreography, [so] I help out a lot of different teams with making up routines so they can compete. At school, I’m pretty good at academics, [and] people ask me for help.”

Gender Viewpoints teacher Melanie Wright said she personally views chivalry as a positive behavior, but also knows how the opponents of chivalry feel.

“There’s this image [of a] theory [where] a female is like a bird, in a bird cage,” Wright said. “There are a lot of different rungs that play a part in her being oppressed. Even though opening a door for a female isn’t overtly an oppressive act it is one rung in the bird cage that keeps a woman caged in.”

Wright said that chivalry has good intentions. It can be viewed negatively however, because it allows for a male to certain behaviors to show a female his care for her, but this can be perceived as a subservient role women held yesteryear.

“[Chivalry is] reminiscent to the female not being as independent, not as an active role,” Wright said. “I think [chivalry] sometimes can get a bad name because it’s reminiscent of where females were before.”

While chivalry can generally be viewed in the context of boy-girl interaction, chivalry does cover universal courtesy, according to Reid equal treatment to all despite gender, despite ethnicity.

Wright’s knowing of the theory of a bird was during college, chivalry, and the disputes of chivalry occur in Mason High School.

Seniors Matt Larcomb and Jason Zeek were in the weight room when Larcomb did not want to give up a training machine, the only one he was able to use, and Zeek said that he should let a girl have a turn.

According to Larcomb, Zeek said he gave up a treadmill for a girl waiting but Larcomb came into the weight room, not being on any machines yet, when the girl had been previously in the weight room working out.

“[Zeek] mentioned [chivalry] should include everything if a girl has been waiting even [and] you’ve been sitting there waiting [too], you should give it up [to the girl] but [the girl] had already been on another machine and I said no, that’s not really what chivalry is [about],” Larcomb said.

Larcomb said chivalry is acceptable to not act on in every situation, but in certain cases – opening doors, or standing in a line for food — ladies first.

“It depends on who you are,” Larcomb said. “There are still people who believe in chivalry in any place, any situation like [Zeek]. There are certain times for [when chivalry is called for], [but] I believe, [but] some people believe it doesn’t matter [what the time or situation].”