The Modern Gentleman Doesn’t Exist… Because Women Won’t Let Him

by Greg Dybec

What comes to mind when you think of the Modern Gentleman? Sturdy mahogany tables, perhaps? Whiskey cocktails? Leather satchels and perfectly-cuffed chino pants?

The Modern Gentleman glides through life with a permanent “Early Bird” Instagram filter enveloping every move he makes.

He is the mysterious man at the end of the bar, yet the life of the party. He’s the strong, silent type, but is always willing to initiate conversation.

He is groomed, yet rugged. Sexually assertive, though consent-seeking. A world traveler, but always by your side. He has all the free time in the world, though he possesses the financial security needed to live worry-free.

In other words, the Modern Gentleman is a sensationalized paradox, and the thoughts of the women who think he exists might be described similarly.

While the idea of the gentleman has existed since the conception of courtship, courtship itself has progressed greatly over time.

The straight-forwardness of the mate-selecting pursuits that exist in Henry James novels and made-for-TV Jane Austen tales is no longer; however, the notion of men pursuing women for eventual marriage and reproduction remains alive and well.

The trend of more casual and recreational courtship, which we now call dating -- or better yet, Tinder -- became popular during the 1920s. This public, overtly self-aware and technology-fueled form of modern-day courtship is a clear sign of its natural evolution.

Why is it then that the idea of the gentleman seems so stuck in time and stifled by an unrealistic and widespread view of how a man should act and the lifestyle he should embody?

The issue stems from the contradictory fact that a Modern Gentleman is expected to epitomize the general habits and behaviors of the stylized, Hollywood versions of the men of decades past.

A large portion of single women use the term "Modern Gentleman" to describe an ideal man. Yet, the modern man they are looking for is held to standards not fit for contemporary times.

If women want this idea of a Modern Gentleman to exist, it's crucial that they re-evaluate the values and standards they are holding men to.

Women want men to hold open doors for them, but more and more doors are becoming automatic.

We Are Not Our Grandfathers, And You Don’t Want Us To Be

They say there is no love like the love of our grandparents. This is a beautiful sentiment, but it should be noted that our grandparents lived in a generation in which the values of marriage were much less likely to be based off the belief of soulmates and love alone.

While the worsening divorce rate is alarming, it does present a sense of growth that perhaps demonstrates that we are beginning to understand the importance of our own independence and needs when it comes commitment. The increased divorce rate may also point to an improving economy. 

This is crucial as women continue the fight to further themselves from the resistant attitudes and underlying misogyny of our grandparents' time, and find consistency in women's rights.

While more women are CEOs than ever, the highest paid female CEOs still make less than half of the highest paid male CEOs.

As the roles and statuses of women continue to evolve, the role of a man as a potential spouse and companion will also evolve. The gentlemen of the old days are not the gentlemen of today.

Communication Has Evolved

It’s easy to agree that technology has sadly altered the way we communicate with one another. Face-to-face communication is selective and phone calls feel like as much work as compiling your taxes.

Yet, men are often held to a standard that requires them to deny the most modern and efficient forms of communication by reverting back to the less-popular and more time-consuming methods.

The idea behind calling instead of texting or taking the time to compose a letter makes sense as a metaphor for men “going above and beyond” for a woman.

However, for men to ditch the practicalities of technology and mainstream approaches to communication as a sign of being a true gentleman is simply unfair.

Men are not lazy or rude if they text instead of call. They are people, and people send text messages instead of calling.

“Modern Gentleman” Makes More Sense As A Style Trend

A quick Google image search of “modern gentleman” reveals a steady stream of expensive, fitted suits and professionally maintained beards. There are no signs of respect for women, sexual consent, marriage or child raising.

While the “Mad Men” era of men who have a penchant for scotch and Italian wool fedoras is understandably attractive, is it fair to base a man’s values on a delusory and hyperbolic aesthetic from a much more misogynistic time?

The term "Modern Gentleman" correlates more with an overall appearance and style. Women who pair this visual of a man with the characteristics of a desirable partner and potential husband are unlikely to find the full package.

The Google image Modern Gentleman is a pre-meditated, constructed idea, made to grace the pages of GQ and sweet-talk us through 30-second liquor commercials.

Chivalry Is Not Modern

Merriam-Webster defines chivalry as “the system and values (such as loyalty and honor) that knights in the middle ages were expected to follow.”

Sure, chivalry has the ability to transcend generations and cultures, but many women still perpetuate the idea that men should physically fight over their love. This made sense when women were considered the property of men, and a real gentleman wouldn't let that happen again.

Photo Courtesy: Tumblr