He Said-She Said: Is Chivalry Necessary?
- Thursday, October 01, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness, please CLICK HERE to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: "A woman I was seeing told me that I didn't need to open the car door for her anymore or walk on the side closest to the street or do basically anything chivalrous at all. She said she could do it for herself and that it was not necessary. The problem is, I enjoy doing these things for a woman. I enjoy showing her that I care and that I am concerned about her protection and provision. Is there something wrong with me or is this just old-fashioned thinking? Is chivalry dead? And should I stop doing these things?"
HE SAID: First of all, I applaud you for your knowledge of these "acts of chivalry" and for your desire to carry them out. There are many men (and some women) who were never "given the memo" about these simple acts of considerate and courteous behavior toward a woman and many more who just don't care.
It seems as if we see fewer thoughtful acts of kindness being displayed toward one another. Some men have come to believe that respecting a woman is not "manly" and some women have been taught acceptance of kind gestures is a sign of weakness. It is a sad state of our society when men and women can't treat each other in a kind way without it being seen as controlling, demeaning, or improper.
I don't recall this concept in any of my biblical studies.
Opening the car door for someone or walking on the side closest to the street are not actions usually classified as being "wrong." These are typically signs you care about the person you are with, have concern for her safety, and desire to show her respect. I believe many women would accept these gestures gratefully (and surprisingly).
For her to specifically ask you to stop doing these things signals something more than not having "old-fashioned" thinking.
Some women have never received any respect for who they are. They have been put down, mistreated or not shown common decency throughout their early years in relationships with their father, brothers, boyfriends or friends. As a result, they don't know how to handle being treated in a gracious way, nor feel comfortable accepting it.
Others have worked hard and gained respect through their accomplishments, feeling as if they don't need anything done for them. They are self-sufficient, highly capable and very independent. Having a door opened for them or being protected may make them feel as if you are putting them down or diminishing their ability to do such things on their own.
Still some don't want to be seen as a "girly-girl," perceived as relatively helpless who needs and depends upon a man for things. These acts of kindness may be interpreted as a means of control, dominance, or disrespect.
In a comparable way, I have struggled with being able to ask for help, accept kind gestures and receive gifts. I find it much easier to provide assistance than to receive it.
The Lord Jesus himself said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
However, after years of trying to "do" for others, I frequently found I was not only extending a blessing, but receiving one back when the person accepted my offering thankfully. Thereby, when I don't accept a gesture from others gratefully, I am withholding a blessing meant for the giver.
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