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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 12:19 GMT 13:19 UK
Is chivalry still relevant in today's society?
Chivalry is a tricky business in today's society, a survey by the Future Foundation has shown.
Whilst 9 out of 10 women expect a man to open a door for them, only 22 per cent are happy for him to pay for dinner.
Most of the 1000 people interviewed by the organisation also thought that it was "ridiculous" for a man to stand up when a woman entered the room.
But almost all of those questioned approved of the freedoms that women have compared with their mothers and grandmothers.
Should manners be taken more seriously? Is there still a place for chivalry in today's society? Tell us what you think.
From my perspective, people are talking about two different things: 1) Who ever gets to the door first opens it, goes through, and holds it for the next person. 2) When a woman approaches a door, a man must leap in front of her and deftly yank the door out of the way so she can glide through effortlessly. ...1) is good manners, and is obviously relevant; 2) is ridiculous, and is not.
My parents taught me to "treat others in the manner that you'd like to be treated yourself". I've always tried to do this, by giving up seats, opening doors, regardless of age, race or gender. I say please and thank you when necessary, and if someone has gone out of their way to help me, I give them praise. This isn't patronising or sexist, it's polite. I hope I've made my mum and dad proud!
Chivalry is not dead. It is the gentleman that is dying. One must also be a man first before he can be a gentleman. Today's society puts money above all else one of the many roots of evil that already is tearing at the foundation of many countries.
I will not (usually) open a door for a woman - or for a man. If I'm going ahead through a door, I will always hold it open for a woman - or a man. A few women dislike me holding a door open for them - do they want to be treated as equals or do they want me to make a special case because they are a woman?
I am quite happy for a man to open a door for me, to let my husband carry heavy shopping and treat me to dinner now and then. I am also prepared to open a door for someone regardless of their gender, age, race etc, treat my husband to dinner and so on. Courtesy does not cost money and it can give you a strange sense of well being if someone has appreciated a small act of kindness. Chivalry is just the old-fashioned way of saying good manners.
Nick Cooper, UK
I went out to dinner with a man the other day. He was paying with his credit card, and I had cash, so I gave him my cash, saying that it included some for the tip. When he filled out the credit card slip he didn't include a tip - and pocketed my money!!!!
Chivalrous or patronising, after twenty years of marriage I have reached the calming conclusion that it doesn't really matter what men do. If we did it, we did it wrong. If we didn't, we should have.
L. Devin MacKrell, Seattle WA, USA
I don't expect someone to hold a door open for me simply because I'm female, although I'll smile and thank them if they do. Women who are offended by men opening doors for them really need to get some perspective - there are far more important things to be upset about than someone being polite to you. No wonder men feel confused! As a result of others being "offended" by good behaviour, I've had doors slammed on me when I was carrying things and really could have done with someone being polite! So next time, men and women, simply smile and thank them, otherwise I'll end up with a broken nose!
Though chivalry is by today's standards an archaic moral code that served to keep all parties concerned in their place, the basic concept of cultivating good manners and a polite attitude to your fellow man is as sound today as ever. I agree with the comments that many people today are rude, arrogant and boorish the vast majority of the time and for no perceivable reason. A little consideration for your fellow man goes a long way. While you might not want to hark back to the age of chivalry, you could at least learn how to behave like a civilised human being.
A few days ago I stopped my car to allow a chap with a walking stick to cross the road. As he was halfway across, someone coming the other way beeped their horn and swerved around him. "At least someone is a gentleman!" said the pedestrian to me. Funny how "not trying to kill someone" can be regarded as good manners these days!!
Chivalry is a marvellous code, the very foundation for human relations. Can you remember when some small and seemingly silly courtesy has an absurdly uplifting effect on your day?
D. Williams, UK
Well, I'm glad to say where I come from, most people give a cheery "Hello" ,or "Good morning" ,as we pass on the street, and I've never had a problem opening doors for a lady. But when one crosses the border into England it's a different story. You get some very confused looks, or worse !! Well done the Welsh!
I went to a school where the words 'Manners Maketh Man' were inscribed in the wall. It is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago. You can still have equality and manners, they are not exclusive
On holiday in Florida I noticed a man opening the car door for his girlfriend. Don't know who he is but I fell in love! It's what every girl wants whether she admits it or not. It does work both ways though.
Good manners, courtesy and respect are always relevant. They have nothing to do with gender, race or age. We need these values more than ever now as more respect equals less crime. Instead of sex education in schools, perhaps "how to be a good citizen" should be on the curriculum.
Holding a door open for someone, of either gender, is just basic good manners. Anyway, most of my male friends will always invite women to go first through doors as it's a good way to check them out without them realising!
The only thing which makes me feel uncomfortable are waiters who move my chair for me. I know where my behind is and I know how to apply it to the chair!
It never ceases to amaze me that on the one hand women will demand equality (nothing wrong with that) yet expect men to open doors for them. Opening a door for someone is a matter of manners, not gender.
Jeff Jeffrey, Australia
If women were more feminine then men would be more chivalrous. Simple really!
Simple things like holding doors open, giving up a seat for someone less able to stand than you etc are just good manners. That's not chivalry. However, what I do think is not as relevant to today's world is this thing that the man should always pay for meals, do all the romantic things, pay for all the gifts etc. Such things shouldn't be expected, they should be a welcome bonus.
Good manners are a direct reflection of the care and respect you have for your fellow man and woman. Whether you like a certain individual or not remember, civility costs you absolutely nothing.
It is ridiculous and patronising to treat women as incapable of opening doors for themselves. Surely this as an ideal is severely outmoded and ridden with contradictions of feminist foundations? There is a place for chivalry in a constantly modern world and its on BBC2 with Emma Thompson.
If anyone has been to Thailand, they will noticed a profound difference between their excellent manners and habits and the 'I really don't have time to say thanks!' which seems to be breeding in this country. How many times have you held a door for someone and they don't even say thanks? That really gets up my nose!
It's not just young people responsible for this lack of manners; the elderly are not totally blameless. I have given up my seat on the bus and held open doors so many times to OAPs and never received as much as a thank you.
I'm very happy for doors to be held open for me and to receive flowers and chocolates on a regular basis - long live chivalry!!
I gave up being polite after several comments such as "I'm perfectly capable..." and "I'll do that, THANKYOU" (emphasised to illustrate snottiness).
I have had infinitely more success with the ladies since I adopted the "Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen" maxim.
I hold doors open for children, dogs, cats, men and women. I don't generally stand up and offer my seat unless the other person is old, pregnant or obviously suffering in some manner. In general, the average woman is as capable of standing on a train as I am. Perhaps the word chivalry should be replaced by civility.
I hope 78% of women would like to pay for their own drinks as well.
Men should behave like gentlemen, and we should have more gentlewomen as well. There are too many strident militant feminists around these days. Consideration works both ways.
Chivalry: reference a quote from Winston Churchill's memoirs -
Wendy, UK: Swearing is nothing to be proud of. Its use shows a poor grasp of the English language. As for opening doors, I always hold the door for someone following me, would you rather they slammed it in your face?
I wish my boyfriend would pay for dinner more often! Saying that, he did spend £125 in ASDA last week and always holds the door open for me.
My generation is still very much into treating our women folk with chivalry and respect - as they have always earned this respect through their behaviour. Things have changed and it's everyone for themselves. If the Titanic was to sink today I suggest the female death list would be far greater.
I still think that I am the only person in London to join one of two queues for a cashpoint and let the person in the adjacent queue go before me as they began to queue first. Nobody has ever done this to me and the reaction from the lady was one of astonishment. Can anyone beat this?
Seems like I must have been out with 100% from that 22% then...
Manners in our society are in decline - it's something that I've noticed over the last decade or so, and I'm only 22! I think manners are an important part of people's respect for one another. As far as chivalry goes, I don't think a girl has ever complained to me about someone being over-chivalrous!!
A story from the late John Morgan's Modern Manners column in the Times: A middle-aged man travelling on a train stood up to offer his seat to a young woman. She refused angrily, so he said, "Madam, I had the manners to offer you my seat. Kindly have the manners to accept it." She sat down straight away.
Chivalry is all about manners more than anything else. I have stood on trains far too many times and watched elderly and pregnant women have to stand while men sit there and read their papers. To give up your seat would be polite more than chivalrous. People need to be respected whatever their gender.
I always hold a door open for anyone, and would pay for a meal on a first date, although I would probably expect to take turns after that.
I think that good manners are sufficient. I certainly hold doors open for the next person passing through, regardless of their gender. Paying for dinner - I think that depends on the relationship between the two people. My husband always pays for dinner - but that's because he earns more than three times my salary. Good manners are certainly missing in today's society - and it's not just among young people. I have found that old age pensioners, who grumble about the lack of manners in society, are the worst offenders.
I remember a story about some old chap who held a door open for a woman and got told off with "you only held the door open because I'm a woman". "Madam," he replied, "I held the door open because I am a gentleman". I, for one, will continue to hold doors for anyone and everyone as it's just the way I was brought up.
I have worked with some British Army people. They are some of the most chauvinistic people I have met, but also the most chivalrous. They almost universally will not swear in front of a lady, and will hold open doors and offer assistance. I forgive them all their faults because they are charming and just the sort of people that I would want defending my freedom.
James Sylvester, UK
Holding a door open for someone, whether male or female, is just polite.
I was always brought up to be courteous and polite to both genders. While some of my generation may consider this obsolete, I think basic good manners, particularly towards those of the opposite sex, are something sadly lacking in society today. Rather than swinging to extremes of behaviour - from thinking all chivalry and manners are bad to stifling female rights and equalities - we should try to strike a balance that benefits everyone.
Only 22% of women are happy for men to pay for dinner? Exactly which women have you been asking? Modem women may indeed be liberated, but I don't think they have become stupid enough to turn down a free meal along with it.
Sorry girls, you wanted equality. Not having the door held open for you I would have thought would be a small price to pay!
I think there is a definite place for chivalry in our society; there is nothing "antique" about it. On the other hand it's all about manners and respect.
You win some, you lose some really. If you stand up for a woman on a train, quite often they'll accuse you of being patronising and if you don't stand up quite often they'll stare at you and make you feel 2 inches tall. Women can't have the emancipation they deserve yet still demand the age-old notions of chivalry, it's plain hypocritical
So that means 78% of women are happy to pay for dinner? What a fantastic piece of news.
There is a whole generation of women out there who simply prefer to pay their own way in life. Personally, I would settle for basic good manners.
07 Aug 02 | UK
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