An Obituary For Chivalry

After approximately 800 years in the business of courtship and romance, bringing together billions upon billions of lovers, through war, famine, drought, economic hardship, unforeseen obstacles and reality television, Chivalry has passed away.

Chivalry, known to many colloquially as the code of male ethics, was born in the early medieval age, though its ancestors have existed in more primitive forms for as long as humans have existed. With the bougieist of upbringings, Chivalry blossomed into its fullest form amongst the royal and noblest members of society. Focusing on service to others, it became known throughout all the lands as the epitome of valor, honor and most importantly, courtly love.

Throughout its lifetime, Chivalry embraced living a simpler life than its detailed, code-driven childhood and adolescence, shedding innumerable pieces of parchment listing rules and regulations for every interaction, downsizing to a much more manageable definition of courtesy to others, particularly women. The grand gestures of eras past were scaled down slightly, stories of duals and courtly romance retired to an eternity of fairy tales, replaced with coats being placed over puddles (or chilled shoulders), a helping hand out of a carriage or vehicle, and accompanying a female companion while walking on the side of the street closest to the traffic.

Chivalry, sort of like Madonna, reinvented itself at various points during its lifetime, evolving with changing attitudes towards gender roles and sex. It distanced itself when women asserted their equality and adopted a less condescending and more polite focus. As men and women began exploring the constraints of a sexual relationship and it’s relation to marriage, Chivalry heralded this exploration, and allowed itself to extend to a general common decency for all human beings. Men and women held doors open for each other, the Sadie Hawkin’s dance was invented and dates went Dutch, even outside the Netherlands.

Things started looking grim during Chivalry’s last few years, as basic courtesies like leaving the toilet seat down and offering to pay on the first date became rarities and often required a request. While on its deathbed, nothing gave an ailing Chivalry more joy than the few times that retro instances of its imprint were honored, primarily during engagement and marriage ceremonies and the once a year a man opened the car door for a woman.

It lasted through the invention of automatic doors, mobile phones and internet dating. It evolved as bras were burned, birth control was celebrated and friends gained “benefits.” It re-evaluated its core principles era upon era and never backed down from innovation. Even while under siege for seeming chauvinistic, sexist and archaic, Chivalry was always willing to embrace modernization and conform as best as it could.

It is survived by its loving, though aging children Politeness and The Rare Gentleman, as well as its infamous though estranged love child from the summer spent by the beach in New Jersey, Douchebag. TC mark

More From Thought Catalog

  • Jennifer

    Oh, COME ON.

    • Asdf

      I believe the chivalrous response to this would be, “Yes, ma’am, where would you find its placement most pleasant?”

      • Jennifer

        Hahahaha

  • Asdf

    “It is survived by its loving, though aging children Politeness and The Rare Gentleman, as well as its infamous though estranged love child from the summer spent by the beach in New Jersey, Douchebag.” 
    What the fuck?

    • Anonymous

      i’m really trying to understand

      • Anatola

        “[The concept of Chivalry] is survived by its loving, though aging, children Politeness and The Rare Gentleman, as well as its infamous though estranged love child [Douchebag, borne] from the summer spent by the beach in New Jersey.” 

      • Anatola

        “[The concept of Chivalry] is survived by its loving, though aging, children Politeness and The Rare Gentleman, as well as its infamous though estranged love child [Douchebag, borne] from the summer spent by the beach in New Jersey.” 

    • Brian Crowley

      stream of consciousness, much?

  • http://twitter.com/Dravenport Ian Derbyshire

    as Dave Chappelle said “If chivalry is dead, then women killed it”.  That being said there are still plenty of chivalrous guys around, you just can’t find them for whatever reason.

  • Bookbookawesome

    Whatthe fuck

  • Jordan

    I’m always curious about this type of ‘Remember When’ thinking, especially when it comes to chivalry and also the maturity of men in terms of life and dating.

    I can’t help but look and see that things have changed sure, but how are we coming to this conclusion?  Is it from watching Nick at Nite and imagining the whole country was Ward Cleaver or Dick Van Dyke?  If we take our current population, what percentage of guys are ‘chivalrous?’  If we rewind to 1955, how many were then?  And to take this a step further, how many 2011 females are the June Cleavers of yesteryear?

    I guess I just don’t want to believe in this ‘where have all the good guys gone’ thinking.

  • http://brianmcelmurry.blogspot.com/ Brian McElmurry

    This is funny. Generally I think guys pay for dinner on a first date, unless they are poor, and open doors for women. At least for the first 6 months.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julianptate Julian Paul Tate

    This article is stupid, close-minded and it contradicts itself. Chivalry is not dead. It’s just evolved with the times and no longer applies to you based on your gender. You can almost hear the author scream, “I miss the days when women and men stuck to their rigorous gender norms!” Is it just me or is that a very backward statement? And it’s loudest in the last three paragraphs.

    Leaving a toilet seat down? That’s hardly chivalrous. That misplaced example should’ve been used to represent common decency.

    The author of this article wrote from a very antiquated heteronormative point of view and failed to acknowledge that chivalry has NOT changed  just because women asserted themselves but also because society’s growing understanding of sex, gender (the state of being male or female, typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones) and sexuality.

    Rather, it seems the author took the lazy route and tried to assert something that’s not true at all. “Chivalry is dead.”

    • Boss

      I think you’re taking it too seriously.

    • RINGER

      what? 

    • Margaret Thatcher

      Any time I see the word “heteronormative” in a comment, I immediately stop reading.

  • dip

    Chivalry’s death should signal a crack in the patriarchal society that we all live in

    • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

      I’m from the South. It is definitely not quite dead, and I think this article/comments signals that people aren’t getting it in terms of why we want the cracks or what we want it to be accomplishing.

  • dip

    Chivalry’s death should signal a crack in the patriarchal society that we all live in

  • dip

    Chivalry’s death should signal a crack in the patriarchal society that we all live in

  • jack

    chivalry or gender equality, pick one and stop complaining

  • Anonymous

    Women can’t demand gender equality AND chivalry at the same time. What we should all demand is courtesy and decency. See a person carrying to many stuff? Offer your help or open the door for them. See a pregnant woman, a child or an elderly standing in the subway train, offer your seat. These are just few of the things you should do for everyone regardless of their gender. Do you really need a man to carry your lady purse and open the door for you?

    • Guest

      UP WITH DECENCY FOR EVERYONE FROM EVERYONE

    • Guest

      UP WITH DECENCY FOR EVERYONE FROM EVERYONE

  • http://twitter.com/galette_rois Julian Galette

    Everyone should hold the door open for everyone else. As for the toilet seat – it’s really not a big deal for women to put it down themselves. 

    All that pulling out chairs, taking your hat off, standing when women approach the table…etc…it’s all bullshit. It’s quant, mildly pleasant bullshit, but it’s far too tied up with notions of women’s roles in society (stay in the kitchen, have babies, etc, etc.) and a time when they didn’t have the rights they have now.

    You’d think you could have it both ways, but you really can’t. Best you can do is raise your son the way you’d want him to treat women (and watch him not get laid) 

    • Guest

      Yep!  

  • http://twitter.com/nestevian888 Lady In BK

    I think its dead in New York or any other big cities.  Its definitely alive in other countries.  Try dating a foreigner and you will see what I mean…they will hate Americans but they will love you. 

    • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

      I dunno. My building (in NYC) is full of young professional foreign people and the men NEVER hold the door. Forget opening the door, but damn, you see me coming but you can’t hold the fucking door open for me when my hands are full of bags? I’m trying to fight off the horrible stereotypes and deathwishes in my brain but its a losing battle.

    • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

      I dunno. My building (in NYC) is full of young professional foreign people and the men NEVER hold the door. Forget opening the door, but damn, you see me coming but you can’t hold the fucking door open for me when my hands are full of bags? I’m trying to fight off the horrible stereotypes and deathwishes in my brain but its a losing battle.

  • Rice Paper Plant

    Chivalry never existed. We just aggrandize the past to soothe the pain of the present day. The thing is, now, we no longer find the contrived nature of chivalry soothing– it’s just an additional embarrasment to cope with.

  • AdolfHipster

    This is the actual Knights Code of Chivalry:

    To fear God and maintain His Church
    To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
    To protect the weak and defenceless
    To give succour to widows and orphans
    To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
    To live by honour and for glory
    To despise pecuniary reward
    To fight for the welfare of all
    To obey those placed in authority
    To guard the honour of fellow knights
    To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
    To keep faith
    At all times to speak the truth
    To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
    To respect the honour of women
    Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
    Never to turn the back upon a foe

    • AdolfHipster

      Essentially, aside from the lines about “respect the honour of women” and “protect the weak and defenseless”, it’s got jack squat to do with opening doors for people. That’s etiquette, not Chivalry.

  • AdolfHipster

    The “courtly love” aspect referred to, had little if anything to do with the Code of Chivalry. There was a treatise written on the Rules of Courtly Love written in the 11th century by Andreas Capellanus called De Amore (or DE ARTE HONESTE AMANDI [The Art of Courtly Love]). The practices described therein, which took place mostly in the courts in a handful of provinces in France, are generally what people think of when they misuse the term Chivalry.

  • AdolfHipster

    The “courtly love” aspect referred to, had little if anything to do with the Code of Chivalry. There was a treatise written on the Rules of Courtly Love written in the 11th century by Andreas Capellanus called De Amore (or DE ARTE HONESTE AMANDI [The Art of Courtly Love]). The practices described therein, which took place mostly in the courts in a handful of provinces in France, are generally what people think of when they misuse the term Chivalry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

    This is a “who dunnit” story with all clues pointing at the double X chromosome, see!

    • Guest

      Who cares?

  • http://www.nosexcity.com NoSexCity

    Reading the comments on this post makes me realize nobody wants the Internet to be fun anymore.

  • Guest

    Who gives a shit?

    • Asdf

      You.

  • Noble Leslie Devotie

    I think John Walter Wayland really hit the nail on the head in terms of defining:

    The True GentlemanThe True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies;who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty,the obscure man of his obscurityor any man of his inferiority or deformity;who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another;who does not flatter wealth,cringe before power,or boast of his own possessions or achievements;who speaks with frankness  but always with sincerity and sympathy;whose deed follows his word;who thinks of the rights of feelings of others before his own;who appears well in any company;a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mopeyprincess mopey P

    Oh man, it is so not dead where I am. Most importantly you are really glossing over its awkward moments. Like when you engage in a weird shuffle to leave an elevator first when you’re a girl. Or if a guy actually tries to come open the car door for you, it takes kind of a long time and you have to sit there even though you just want to pee. Or the weird entering-a-building while not-making-eye-contact dance that you do, timing your steps to let him get to the door first because otherwise he’s gonna rush up on it anyway or will be flustered if you hold the door for him..

  • Sophia

    I just want to point out that holding a door open should not be expected only of males. There’s nothing modern or feminist about slamming a door in someone’s face.

    • guest

      truth

  • https://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/thought-catalog-is-starting-to-bother-me/ Thought Catalog Is Starting To Bother Me | Thought Catalog

    […] And the crazy thing is that men are starting to believe that all women are as psychotic as to not want men to hold doors open for them anymore, and frankly, it’s ruining everything for everyone. If I see one more “thank you for posting […]

blog comments powered by Disqus