The Evolution Of Chivalry

Once upon a time, little girls like myself grew up hearing stories about love. We were tucked into bed, and we’d fall asleep listening to stories about these princesses being swept away by their charming princes. But then we woke up, and eventually we grew up. And as we matured, so did the concept of love and chivalry.

As a millennial woman, I can personally say that those bedtime stories should remain categorized under fiction, because that concept of chivalry still puts me to sleep. I’m not saying chivalry is and/or should be dead. I just think that the ideology of love and chivalry that I was taught when I was younger is a concept that should be kept at rest and stay in my past, as I find it completely outdated.

Let’s be honest, in my own little world, I am a princess. But who said my knight in shining armor consisted of a man sweeping me off my feet? If anything, as of right now, the idea of achieving my dream career is the knight in shining armor that will lead me to live happily ever after.

Maybe as millennials, chivalry is not what it used to be because we have become much more independent, or at least much more realistic.

Based off of the bedtime stories I was told anyway, I was given the perception that chivalry was a matter of gender roles. Men (and only men) were supposed to present these grand gestures to women; and women (and only women) were supposed to simply wait for these grand gestures. Apparently these grand gestures would equate to chemistry, then love, and the rest is history.

Princess status or not, I’ve been in situations where guys have acted in a multitude of ways that could be defined as this so-called chivalry, such as opening the car door for me or giving me flowers. And not in every case, but in a few cases, I would later discover that the intent of these said grand gestures were anything but what I could consider chivalrous.

If you ask me, the only thing about chivalry that’s worth holding onto is respect. That aspect should never die or become out-dated. I just want to be respected. If someone is going to open the car door for me or give me flowers, I hope it was out of genuinely wanting to, rather than out of some sort of ulterior motive—because that’s what’s going to sweep me off my feet.

And I want the respect to be mutual, regardless of gender. I don’t want to be respected alone and have this so-called Prince Charming not respect anyone else. I also want to be able to return the favor and be able to sweep him off his feet, too. Women can be chivalrous as well, and no, not just in the kitchen.

I feel like I’m running in circles. But I guess what I’m trying to say is that chivalry does not necessarily need to be a thing of the past as long as the intent and motive behind chivalry can be as redefined for millennials. Chivalry does not have to be dead, unless it is still seen and acted upon in such an out-dated way.

I just want to be able to hear and tell a real-life story about a millennial woman or man who was swept off their feet out of genuine respect—because that’s a story that will never put me to sleep.

Photo taken by Colleen Scobie

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