A Conversation on Chivalry

Opening Speaker: Chivalry is over rated and convenient.

Participant 1: For whom is it convenient? Chivalry is a choice. The choice to do the right things, for the right reasons, at the right times. If not, then it’s not chivalry; it’s probably a superficial act to impress!

OS: To not practice it is also a choice. The choice to believe in equality. Chivalry isn’t right. The choice to like or hate it is right.

P1: What else does choice mean, OS? Obviously, it’s one’s choice not to practice it or otherwise.
Btw, i really would like to know if YOU believe in the very concept of being chivalrous?

OS: You used the word ‘right’ so many times with regards to things or reasons. Anyway I don’t believe in chivalry 🙂

Participant 2: I don’t get chivalry, we should be respectful and mindful of everyone. I mean if some guy bumps into u we say sala BC… its just not nice… lets just have good manners and leave chivalry to the Downtown Abbey guys

OS: Chivalry should not be confused with courtesy. Yes we should respect and be mindful of everyone we interact with but I don’t think it’s fair to go beyond our means or way for someone especially if external factors aren’t compromising safety.

P2: yea m not ruining my jacket so someone shouldnt step over a puddle… side se jao 😛

Participant 3: Weird. Being as chivalrous as possible is my high. I wish the whole world, both men and women, would be more chivalrous. As long as you protect those weaker than you, in kindness and not out of some weird sense of duty, chivalry is what you are practicing. It’s about courage and honor, courtesy and justice. It isn’t something you can or cannot believe in. It is something that either comes naturally to you, you aspire towards, or you avoid. I think it’s noble.
And it’s anything but convenient. lol.

OS: P3, Thank you for that. As far as courtesy, courage and justice are concerned I agree. However, I do feel the modern interpretation of it is sometimes unfair. I think I practice chivalry in the traditional sense but i’d rather avoid it’s modern interpretation. If equality exists among two individuals I fail to understand why one of them is ‘duty bound’ or expected to be taking care of the other person especially when external factors like safety etc aren’t a concern. I’d rather have equality in my personal equations and I really wouldn’t want to be a guardian to someone who clearly doesn’t need it.

P3: In life, everyone is going to be weaker or stronger than you at some level. It depends on what level your interaction is happening, I believe. Of course its application (chivalry’s i.e.) would be different today than at the time of its inception, but that’s because the social set up at the time of origin was a violent and dangerous one, where knights were one of the strongest and women, amongst the weakest. But today, this is not necessarily true. Yes, if it’s late at night, and you’re in India, you are at a position of strength compared to any female friends you might have with you and chivalry might be expected of you, only on the basis of your being male, but to assume that is the be all and end all of chivalry is wrong. There may be times when you come across a lost child, or an injured dog or even a male colleague who is utterly lost. Or when you’re dealing with the help, or a waiter at a restaurant, or a confused elderly gentleman on the subway. 

I think Chivalry, in fact, is all about strength. If you know you are stronger than those around you, then as long as you do everything in your power to protect them, without expecting rewards or favors in return, you are being chivalrous. Those that say that it’s unfair because women always receive the benefit are buying into the notion that a woman is always weaker than a man, regardless of surroundings or circumstance, and as dismaying as it may be, the solution is not to shun chivalry, but to practice it properly, so that even those who denounce it come to receive its favors, and more importantly, because that is the burden of humanity on its path to civilization.

OS: *sips on water*…Okay!
I have a problem with it due to it’s very gendered connotations. Now, I’m not going to get into specifics of what I do which actually does resonate with your comment. However I wouldn’t compromise on equality specifically when the circumstances do not put me in a position of strength. ..courtesy would mean opening the door for someone regardless of their gender or vacating a seat for someone who clearly looks tired, with a child .. paying the bill, again without bringing gender into the equation, because I might absolutely adore the person, maybe in a position of more financial strength However I wouldn’t want to pay for someone just because according to gender stereotypes, I am supposed to or rush to open the car door for someone perfectly healthy because I’m supposed to. Assuming there is no position of strength involved in a particular situation, I do not believe in doing something just because that is what some gentleman did for his lady at the next table. In other words, I’d rather not be a position of strength and I’d love to be with someone who’s independent and doesn’t need me to pull off stupid stunts to amuse her yet if there’s ever a situation where I find myself in a position of strength, my belief system, how so ever flawed, will be doing everything that’s expected out of a decent human being.

P3: Yeah, so it is all about your own perception of your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the people you are with. I frequently open doors for people I am with, male or female, because if I can do something that makes life easier for the person I am with, and it costs me less than nothing to do it, then why not? Does it mean I consider myself stronger than them in some way? Why, yes, it does. Often it does anyway. And for the few times where I am certain that I am at a disadvantaged position in terms of strength or capability, then what better opportunity to repay them for the chivalry I believe their advantageous position will inspire them to than by doing something as simple as opening a door, or fetching a glass of water, etc..

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