chivalry illustration

(Ia Balbuena-Nedrow/Emerald)

Chivalry is dying. But who is killing it?

The term “chivalry” dates back to the 12th century when knights were instructed on whom they could kill and whom should be shown mercy. The idea resurfaced in the 18th and 19th centuries in terms of war and the glory one has in fighting for their country. And finally, we arrive at the definition we all know chivalry to have today — how men should treat women, especially in terms of romantic relationships.

But today, with all this talk of equality and women’s rights, we should take the term “chivalry” in a whole new direction. Instead of limiting the definition of chivalry to how men treat women, it should really just be how humans treat one another.

If you break it down and look at the history of the term, chivalry is just courtesy, generosity and valor. These concepts apply to more than just how men treat women in romantic relationships. Chivalry also applies to how friends, family members and strangers act toward one another.

If you see someone in the grocery store paying for a homeless man’s groceries, that person is being chivalrous. When a child decides to help out a sibling with their chores for a day, chivalry is at work. And get this — when a woman pays for her date’s meal or opens the car door for them, she is being chivalrous. The term is not as one-sided as we think it is.

So why is chivalry dying?

People, especially men, are showing less and less chivalry to women as feminist movements slowly start to gain followers and widespread support. The main reason for this is that men do not know how their traditional ways of showing courtesy will be interpreted.

If a man carries a woman’s bags, it could possibly be misinterpreted that he thinks of her as weak. If he pays for her meal, that might mean he thinks she does not make her own money.

But while some people overthink kind gestures and take them the wrong way, many people still appreciate an altruistic act. Not only that, they are more inclined to return the favor at some point, too.

It is not uncommon to hear that feminism killed romance or that feminism killed chivalry. This, in fact, is far from the truth; feminism’s overarching goal is simply to achieve equality between sexes.

Chivalry, otherwise known as human courtesy, was not killed by feminism. It was killed by the misconception that chivalry equals sexism, and the idea that women are offended by men doing them favors.

Chivalry is just a generous way to show your loved one, or anyone, that you care about them. Let’s bring it back.

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