"Don Draper is so sexy. Why can't guys be more like him nowadays?"
A girl said this to me recently and it made me feel inadequate. Sure, we all love the character of Don Draper, he is a wildly successful advertising guru, wears suits constantly and has that perfectly-timed wit that can dismiss someone in a second.
So, of course, women feel nostalgic for the men of these days, when chivalry still reigned. They would get their best dames flowers and take them to the old sock hop for a night of dancing and maybe, if they're lucky, a smooch or two.
Times have changed, haven't they? Why, I haven't been to a sock hop in quite some time! Just kidding, I went to one last week. But that doesn't change the fact that yes indeed, the Modern Man is a far cry from that of Don Draper. Women who reminisce for the days of old when men courted their women instead of swiping right are coming up empty-handed in their search for old fashioned loving.
But that doesn't mean that you should just give up. Sure, it's hard to find a man with the clout and suaveness of Don Draper, but chivalry isn't quite dead, it's just different. Sure, I hardly know any guys who buy women flowers for a first date, hell I hardly know people who met the person they're dating in person. But just because chivalry has advanced as time has advanced, doesn't mean that it is dead.
You see, back in the 50s and 60s, they didn't have Tinder. They didn't have the Internet. Times were much simpler. There was no Google to tell you the answer to every problem you ever had; it was just a bunch of guys hanging out swapping advice and stories of how to catch the eye of the girl you had a crush on.
They didn't have hours upon hours of porn that was readily available to them. They had magazines that they stole from their older brothers. Simply put, men weren't able to be animals because they didn't have the means to be animals. I guarantee you that if they had our modern technology back then, times would have been a LOT worse.
Because when I hear girls reminiscing about the men of yesteryear who were soooo chivalrous, they seem to forget that in that same time period, women were basically house slaves. Their sole purpose was to cook their men dinner and pump out babies. The man was the provider and the woman was the caretaker. The highest rank women generally held was that of a secretary.
We've come a long way since then. More women are in the workforce now than ever, more women have become independent of men, and it's no longer cool to slap a woman in the face for speaking her mind (something that I've seen happen in just about every movie before 1970, you know back when men were incredibly chivalrous).
I think we are proud of our progress in terms of equality. I know we aren't quite at the place most people would like to be yet, but you can't deny that we've come a long way.
And men have come a long way. No longer are men forced to be the sole providers for a household. Women are helping out with bills and mortgages so the weight of the world isn't on the man's shoulders as much as it used to be. We are more progressive thinkers and are more open to the notion of equality and we even fight for it.
But a lot has changed for the worse. While men have pride and hardly want to admit weakness, it's harder than ever to be a prideful man. A lot of college graduates now have to move back in with their parents for an extended period of time.
Finding a career is harder than ever. We are in a seemingly insurmountable amount of college loan debt. It's harder out there. Women sometimes even make more money than the men they are dating, which can feel like a blow to the ego for a lot of guys when it comes to tradition. The stresses of life are innumerable and women are nostalgic for the men of yesteryear? Hell, so are we!
I'd love to go back in time when having a college degree put you in the upper echelon of society! I'd love to have a career already and not have to work three different jobs in order to pay bills. Please, send me back!
Unfortunately, we can't do that. I can only do the best that I can to be a modern gentleman in this modern world. Some girls may not be happy with how gentlemanly we gentlemen are these days. Just know that we're trying. We can't live up to the sheer awesomeness of 1950s chivalry, but you also don't want to live up to the sheer servitude that defined and subjugated the 1950s woman.
It's a delicate tightrope walk now for men because we don't know what women want. There are women who find men who hold doors for them to be sexist. "I can open my own door!" I know you can, I was just trying to be a gentleman. But then if you don't open the door for a woman, you can fall into the trap of, "Wow, this guy didn't even open the door for me."
It's hard to be chivalrous when some chivalrous behavior is seen as evil or sexist. At any moment, a gesture of chivalry could be seen as an attack on a woman's rights. It has caused many men to simply give up on being gentlemen all together and start sending dick pics via OkCupid from the get-go. I don't want us to do that, and neither do you.
So what I'm asking is this: Ladies, cut us some slack. Gentlemen are doing the best we can to be gentlemen, it's just a confusing time out there when a "chivalrous" act can cause a woman to throw her water in your face.
I know I'd like to live in a world in which everyone is nice and honest with one another, but we aren't there yet. Let's all try to find a happy place where we can all coexist together and, who knows, maybe our courtly gestures will become more appreciated.
Photo credit: Rush