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If not chivalry, at least common courtesy

I am convinced that chivalry is stone cold dead. Not a day goes by that I don’t think men believe it is necessary to treat women in a respectful way anymore. Growing up, I was under the impression that men should do things such as open doors for women, as well as refrain from cursing, burping, swearing or passing gas in their presence. In essence, I was taught that men should treat women like queens by showing them respect.

I guess those days are gone. On any given day, I can go to the Argos cafeteria and a man will let the door slam in my face. Monday morning, I was in the dining hall, and a table full of men was cursing throughout their breakfast. All I could think was, “Do they not see me and my friends sitting here?”

Many say because women have made such a fuss about being treated equally, men no longer feel it necessary to be chivalrous. If you want a door held open, hold it yourself. I do not agree with this way of thinking. If you do not want to be chivalrous, there is a still something known as common courtesy. If I see someone behind me, I will hold the door open for him or her. If I am with my friends and I see that children are within earshot of our conversation, I will not talk about things that I believe are inappropriate for children to hear. It is about being polite and courteous – period.

Some women whom I have spoken to about this subject said chivalry is sexist and they are glad it’s dead. Chivalry evokes thoughts of a time when men were the heroes and women were damsels in distress. It was the responsibility of men to swoop in and save women from situations they had gotten themselves into due to their naivety. However, in the 21st century, women can save themselves.

Some feel chivalry defines roles in a relationship by having men think they are the saviors of their girlfriends. I don’t see it that way. It is one thing to talk down to me or to jump into a situation that I am clearly capable of handling just to “save” me; it’s another to open the car door for me every once in awhile. It is not going to make me feel subservient to a man. Instead, I would be appreciative because he thought about me enough to make a good impression.

Sometimes, women send mixed messages as to what they really want. Some women will say how sexist chivalry is, but then they will go to the movies to see a clichéd romantic film. Romantic movies enforce the notion of chivalry. Men are always doing sweet, romantic things in these movies to impress the women who they are attracted to. Women go to see these movies and think, “I wish someone would do that for me.” Then, if a man sends flowers to a woman’s house or takes a woman out to dinner often and pays the bill, some women will complain and call it sexist.

I believe women secretly enjoy when men do things for them. It’s romantic, and it’s OK for a woman to also be romantic. There is room for both chivalrous actions and mutual respect between the sexes. I am not expecting men to bend over backwards – or risk an assault charge because someone called me names – but I do believe some type of effort to keep a woman happy should take place. The same applies to women. Men need to be shown appreciation.

Today, a medieval term such as chivalry might be inappropriate. Courtesy would be more fitting, but from my observations, neither really exists in modern society.

Shemir Wiles is a senior majoring in mass communication.