Disclaimer: this is not an article complaining about men being lazy and inconsiderate nor one about women no longer having high enough standards that require men to be chivalrous. All over the Internet, women complain about how they never meet gentlemen and that chivalry is dead.
After reading countless versions of these articles, tweets and posts, I have come to realize that these women are confused about the true definition and history of chivalry, and I am fed up. So, here is why chivalry is actually dead:
Chivalry was a code for knights back in the Middle Ages. That's right, you read that correctly — the Middle Ages. That was hundreds of years ago. And, back then, knighthood meant something totally different than it means today. As great as Sir Elton John is, he probably wouldn’t have fit in so well with the knights of yesteryear.
On Google, the first definition of chivalry reads as: "the medieval knightly system with its religious, moral and social code." The mention of women in the code is that a knight is to respect the honor women and support widows and orphans. Knighthood was one of the highest positions in that feudal society.
Nowhere was there a law written that all men had to buy women gifts and take them out to dinner all of the time. Sure, it's nice when a guy does take me out to dinner or give me a gift, but I would never expect it from him nor would I say that he isn't chivalrous if he didn't. Instead, I'd rather have a gentleman.
Maybe you’re thinking, “but being a gentleman is the same thing as being chivalrous!” That’s where you’re wrong. A gentleman literally means being a man of good and courteous conduct. "Courtesy" is the key word there. “Gentleman” was also a type of rank in the Middle Ages, but with time, the definition evolved in society, unlike the term "knight."
To be worthy of knighthood is almost completely unattainable for any man these days, but being a gentleman is quite simple. All that the status requires is consideration of others — men and women alike. It means being polite and respectful to all people that one encounters. A gentleman is a person who is kind and thoughtful.
This is not an impossible standard. I have met plenty of men whom I consider to be gentlemen, which is why I think it is something any man can achieve. Sure, chivalry died a long time ago, but it has nothing to do with this generation or the four generations before us, Gen-Y. If any of you really want to find a knight, I suggest taking a field trip to Medieval Times (the chicken is divine) or stalk Sir Elton.
But, you will probably never find anyone like Heath Ledger in “A Knight's Tale.” I'm not saying you should settle for someone below your standards, but maybe, update them for this century. I, for one, will graciously and happily accept a man who gives me his jacket when I'm cold and can make me laugh when I'm upset — my kind of gentleman.
And for those of you who are interested in history, here's a fun fact about the code of chivalry: it is probably the origin of the "bro code" since one of the vows is "to guard the honor of fellow knights."