Bring Chivalry Back… Dot Com!
There is actually a new website with that name. There’s also an accompanying Twitter account and the associated email marketing. A middle age fellow created that website. There are also associated live events and networking opportunities related more to business. He really wants to bring back chivalry. His efforts are legitimate but his understanding of attraction between the sexes is colored way too much by his desire to get men to practice chivalry. My regular readers will immediately see where this is going.
The history of chivalry is actually quite interesting. This is worth a read because the article does a good job in tracking the history of chivalry from a warrior code to a code of conduct of upper class men as they interacted with upper class women. Chivalry is a great – and long – chapter in human social history. It’s a cousin to courtly love and gallantry. Those were the days. I’m getting nostalgic for the plague, Tamerlane, and codpieces.
Historically speaking, chivalry made sense. It acted as a moral barrier to (hopefully) prevent strong, violent men acting in brutal, savage ways upon physically weaker persons who lacked any kind of economic or political power. Up until the early 20th century, chivalry was a moral barrier to protect women, also considered weaker and lacking any kind of economic or political power. There is a nice congruity to that transformation.
Given the economic and political power of today’s women, chivalry is simply not required. Practicing chivalry is like speaking Latin, quaint but fundamentally useless unless you’re in the Vatican. Worse, it can too easily come across as supplicating, obsequious, and sycophantic, traits that women loathe in a potential romantic partner. This hilarious video from Amy Schumer highlights the problem of chivalrous “M’Lady” boys. It’s funny stuff and stunningly realistic. There really does need to be an app like that.
Bring Chivalry Back recently zapped out a tweet showing guys helping a woman jump-start her car in the rain. The text of the tweet said that the insisted that she stay in the car. While that’s helpful, it’s unnecessary because the woman in the car can simply call AAA or some other professional to assist her. That’s economic power, right there. Women have fought hard for that kind of economic power and it should be respected.
I have no problem being help to my fellow humans, I rather enjoy that. However, being helpful to a woman solely because she possesses ladyparts takes any man into dangerous territory if he has a romantic agenda with that woman. Chivalry and attraction just don’t go together. The website and tweets urge men to be chivalrous in order to stand out. In the context of garnering female attraction, that logic is sound. It’s almost axiomatic that a man willing to stand out has a certain degree of confidence and that’s good. However, chivalry destroys mystery.
But a gesture of chivalry is way too facile when attempting to get a woman’s attraction escalate that attraction into comfort and romance. If the gesture is over the top, the impact can be quite the opposite of comfort. Indeed, chivalry can actually maintain an emotional barrier when trying to make a woman feel comfortable with the man. Initial attraction and comfort should be natural and easy, not punctuated by contrived rituals.
A gesture of chivalry also establishes the completely wrong frame in a man’s mind. It hoists a woman onto the pedestal so she can look down on the man, figuratively speaking. It also signals to the woman that he’s joining her life and that’s an attraction killer. She joins his life as the dating process goes on.
Any chivalrous acts should be used exceedingly sparingly and in the context of a committed relationship or towards older women. I have a soft spot (shut up, readers) in my heart for a woman who has managed to survive this challenging world for decades. I also have great respect for older men. Actually, my younger readers consider me an older man. Ha!
I won’t heap too contumely on the creator of bringchivalryback.com. As he’s in a long-term marriage, he’s not in the dating market and so can’t accurately address what it’s like out here in middle-age singledom. If he were single, his chivalry would certainly gets lots of positive attention from the dames. It would get him few, if any, dates. Regarding attraction and dating, women and men say what they are expected to say but they do what they want to do. Women say they like chivalry, but won’t act on it.
His advice for young single men is poor. A young man who whips out some chivalry to get some attraction from a girl is going to get “Awwwww, that’s so sweet [now go away]” or “Ewwwww, you’re creepy, get away from me!” Hey, both of those responses are a form of attention, right? What the creator of the website doesn’t understand is that attention and appreciation are not the same as attraction.
Sure, bring back chivalry. It’ll be fine when I pitch sweet woo to Rebecca and get her parent’s permission to let me give her a ride in my flivver after I present her with a lovely nosegay. But prior to that, I shall pen her a fine missive on some quality foolscap. “My Darling Rebecca…” Oh, mother has the Victrola wound. 23 skiddoo!