An article I read recently got me thinking. It said India is not ready for feminism because women still like men who bring them flowers, open doors for them, walk on the street side, etc. Chivalry, it said, was against everything feminism stood for.
What do I think of when I hear the word ‘chivalry’?
Gaily bedight, a gallant knight, in sunshine and in sorrow…
Theatrical Middle Century scenes come to mind – a knight in shining armour, brave and good at heart, performing heroic deeds to win the princess’s hand
Any knight worth his salt was called chivalrous when he was honourable, kind, generous, loyal and courteous, as well as gentle with those weaker than him, which included – at the time – women. A little later, it became a code of conduct for gentlemen. A few centuries later, chivalry has evolved into a ritual reserved for first dates and the boss’s wife – opening doors, pulling out chairs, you know the drill.
It’s kind of sad though that we’ve forgotten the emotion behind these little gestures. Chivalry is a way of life; it’s not aimed towards impressing another person.
It’s also kind of sad that chivalry has become a sexist issue. In this day and age, knights may not always be males. Kindness, courtesy, honour and liberality are things every person should have, regardless of gender.
So, for example, if you see a person in greater need of a seat in the train than you, offer them yours. It’s also perfectly okay to open the door for that cute chick, but keep the door open for the old couple coming behind her. If you’re a girl sitting in a women-only seat in the bus, and you see a tired old – or young – man standing, there’s no harm in letting him sit. Being genuinely nice, being considerate, putting that little bit of extra thought in your actions; that is chivalry, my friends.