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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 10:31 GMT
Does chivalry still exist?
Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe and BBC South's Inside Out film crew visited Bournemouth town centre to find out whether common courtesy still exists or is a thing of the past.

As a 30-something blundered into a Bournemouth shop behind his wife, Miss Widdecombe was watching and wondering whether chivalry was dead.

She saw most men fail to open the door for their female companions and she watched when they walked on the inside of the pavements, allowing their wives to get splashed by passing cars.

Miss Widdecombe said "By losing the small things, we go on to to lose much bigger things. The protection of women that used to be instinctive".

Do you feel that common courtesy still exists? Or is chivalry a thing of the past? Tell us what you think.

Ann Widdecombe's quest for chivalry featured on Inside Out which was shown on 10 February on BBC One in the BBC South region and streamed at www.bbc.co.uk/southampton.


This Talking Point has been closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

I too have suffered from the "what do you think you are doing?" lecture after holding the door open for a lady, but does this stop me from doing it for others? Not a chance. Small things can make all the difference. It's nice to be nice, and at the end of the day, ladies are still ladies.
Matthew, UK

Miss Widdecome is a dinosaur, a relic from a bygone age, as is her party. Her outbursts are parochial, simplistic, laughable and expose the ignorance of her kind. Tories are so small-minded.
Iain, UK

Common courtesy is not sexist, it's just polite

S. Weekes, Wales, UK
As a modern woman I open doors for anyone who happens to be walking behind me, and I always say thanks when anyone who happened to be walking in front of me, male or female, does the same. Common courtesy is not sexist, it's just polite.
S. Weekes, Wales, UK

I held a door open to a 'lady' who told me to move into the 21st century and called me a sexist pig. My reply was far than gentlemanly but involved pointing out that if her manners were as far 'advanced' as her overreaction, she may have evolved a personality by now.
Steve G, UK

Ann Widdecombe is clearly sexist with views fit for the 1920s and not the 21st century. If she expects men to open doors for her then she should quit her job and get back in the kitchen.
Chris R, UK

So many modern English women are charmless

Graham, UK
Chivalry is born of female charm, or the prospect of seeing some. How sad that so many modern English women are so charmless that we feel no great desire to impress them.
Graham, UK

Most women around my age (ie early 20s) would laugh in my face if I offered to walk on the outside of the pavement for them - in fact I didn't even know about this 'rule' until reading this article. A large part of chivalry is still earthed in old-fashioned sexism. Chivalry for me means more about giving up your seat for an elderly person, not just a female!
Alex, UK

Chivalry towards women resulted from the slightly lower status they had in the past. They have now become equal (or superior) and it is a choice of one or the other. Which one would people prefer?
Graeme Phillips, UK

If chivalry is dead... it's women who have killed it!
James Alexander, USA

I never let my male friends walk home alone

Lou, UK
I am a very independent 22-year-old woman, and some people even accuse me of being a feminist. Even though I project the image of being assertive, I still very much like it when my male friends walk me home, or ensure that I am safe. I never let my male friends walk home alone if I have a car and can pick them up. That is all part of being respectful to each other in friendships and relationships. Every time you do something nice for a woman and a comment is not made, a compliment is noted in our heads. Any woman who says she doesn't like those things is lying. Trust me!!!
Lou, UK

Consideration for women is no more important than consideration for men, and anyone who argues otherwise is sexist, including Miss Widdecombe.
Armaan Mukarji, CH/UK

I totally agree with Armaan. Equality is an essential requirement in any society. As is mutual respect for all of us, not matter what sex/age/or colour we happen to be. Mind you, I do have to say when a man DOES hold a door open for me... I do tend to go weak at the knees┐ ha ha ha!!! I do like to feel cared for... and it makes me look at any man twice if he is considerate and polite.
Sam Kimber, UK

I always hold doors, etc. for women, but it's amazing how few even acknowledge the fact these days. I stepped to one side in a blocked shop aisle just the other day and watched as four women accompanied by numerous children barrelled through - not one of them smiled, offered thanks or even made eye contact with me.
Lee Furness, UK

Time for men's liberation!

James Clarke, UK
Thank goodness chivalry is dead. We've had hundreds of years of that rubbish and it's about time women started paying for dinner, chasing men, giving us flowers, opening doors for us and... oh yes, seranading us. Time for men's liberation!
James Clarke, UK

It's a thin line between chivalry and sexism, and men must now proactively guage the requirements of the woman. Women are not all the same and do not all have the same wants. Open your eyes, chaps.
David, UK

Two years ago I stood up on our local bus to give my seat to a young woman with shopping. As a reward I was given a five minute speech in a loud voice telling me that was a 'male chauvnist pig' amoungst other things. Needless to say I haven't done it since but hide away upstairs on buses where standing isn't allowed.
Tony, England

Courtesy is nothing to do with the sexes, I would hold a door open for another man as much as I would for a woman. Its courtesy for other human beings that we're losing. And it starts on the roads!
David, UK

Men just can't win these days. Some women expect to be treated as equals and no more favourably than a man, however they're in the minority. The others expect to be treated equally AND with the deference previously accorded to them. We men shouldn't let them off with such double standards any more. Ladies, you can put the toilet seat down just as easily as we can put it up. You're equal now, learn to live with it.
Jim H, UK

Everyone should be treated with courtesy. But things like walking on a particular side of the sidewalk or opening doors was never truly courtesy, it was part of a quid pro quo relationship. It had to be paid for, so to speak, with acceptance of a dependent role. Women who expect men to offer all of the old-fashioned courtesies should not complain when men expect them to repay those courtesies with traditional female subservience. True courtesy springs from the heart.
Deborah Mitchell, USA

There's a difference between chivalry and common courtesy. For so long we've had this "equality" thing rammed down our throat, yet women still expect us to open doors for them? In a truly equal world it wouldn't be out of place for a woman to open the door for me. Sadly, common courtesy has also gone out of the window.
John B, UK

I enjoy being treated like a lady

Rachel, UK
I enjoy being treated like a lady, and women should not try to be like men because the only similarities we share is that we are human beings.
Rachel, UK

The question should be can chivalry survive in a world of headstrong women? God forbid the man should choose which shop we go to next! Walking on the road side of a lady is effectively preventing her from crossing to other shops. If you try to pay for dinner then you're trying to take advantage of them. We can't win. Easier to drink beer and watch the footy.
Andrew, UK

If you do show any courtesy towards women, they look at you as if to say "What do you think you are doing?" Is it any wonder men do not do it anymore?
Phill S, UK

Of course chivalry towards women is fading away. Why? Because men are finally waking up and to the hypocrisy and double standards of it all.
Red Kev, England

 VOTE RESULTS
Is chivalry dead?

Yes
 49.61% 

No
 50.39% 

1036 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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