Did Chivalry Die?

We have been coy on drawing a line between recipients of a courteous and a condescending attitude.  I have heard opinions from strong, independent women that humility of men towards women will not be appreciated because they usually believe it holds an ulterior motive or the grand gesture is there to imply women’s weakness.  Let me unfold such tangled perspectives with an example: If a gentleman offers to help a lady stranded on a highway with a flat tire, would it amount to depicting superiority–that a lady is unable to change a tire–disguised as kindness or is it just simply a character of a good Samaritan?

The answer to the questions depends on the way we perceive things.  However, the important thing that I want to single out here is I have heard women say assistance from men without a cry of help is considered patronizing.  It inflicts to the patriarchy norm that men are destined to be stronger, superior and powerful, and women are the opposite and they should depend on the shoulders of men.  Hence, some say a call for support to a woman who is self-assured and self-sustained will not be received well.  I have tried to understand such perspectives since the norm that we all grew up forces us to make hasty generalizations.  It is not uncommon to see, in the contemporary world, women infiltrating the monarchy system of men.  Elevated to boldness, women are no longer inferior to engage themselves either in hard labor or intellectual works that were previously confined to men\’s territory.

The problem lies when we stick to one side of the bay and overlook pure intentions.  If we shrug off support or chivalry from men because of an attitude that we are being belittled due to our sex and gender, then by default we are labeling guys who grew up to be sympathetic and well-mannered as lofty.  Even worse, we will lose all the support that we could have gotten because we are pushing away benevolent men with noble qualities.

What happened to the good old days of being grateful when a man holds a door open, pulls out a chair, or opens the car door for us?  If we think such acts imply women are delicate and fragile beings, that they should be preserved under the umbrella of men instead of showing a polite and proper way of treating a woman, then the thin line between courtesy and condescending behavior overlaps.  I have witnessed women mocking men with the above character as—and I quote—“show-offs” or “wannabe’s.”  It is a fact that there might be cases where such acts took a form of play and deceived us to think it was kindness.  However, intentions and motives play a vital role in every human conduct and we should take the responsibility of identifying acts presented as ego amplifiers from genuine acts of chivalry.

That is why it has become necessary to make the line bold and italic before labeling and identify all acts of kindness as condescending.  My older brother once said everything has become offensive nowadays and everyone is on the edge of pointing out where it went wrong.  It is wise to make people cautious enough to identify which moves trespass personal boundaries, but we should also be wise enough where we put the fences to our boundaries.