Nothing helps a woman get in touch with her “inner feminist” more than modern culture’s common portrayal of chivalry as little more than chauvinist men who feel like Arnold Schwarzenegger and act like Jabba the Hut. Such men, we are told, are constantly insinuating that women cannot handle even simple things like opening doors, lifting two pounds and standing up.
The result is that most people have a completely wrong view of what chivalry represents. They think it’s all about men being stronger and better, and about women being too weak and too fragile to carry boxes or open doors. The result has been an environment extremely hostile to chivalry and the gradual elimination of gentlemen from our midst.
The Big Misunderstanding
How would it change your perception of gifts if you believed that every gift you received was accompanied by the unspoken message that you couldn’t afford it?
Think of how you’d feel if someone bought you a $15.00 CD for your birthday and you took it as insinuating that you were too poor to purchase it yourself. Your pride would be hurt and you might even go out and buy the CD again, just to prove that you could.
The results of this misunderstanding are predictable: gifts and gift-givers would eventually disappear from your life as you continued to discourage them.
Of course, this fictional misunderstanding is ridiculous — everyone knows that presents are given to communicate love and appreciation, not financial superiority. Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes that our society’s misunderstanding of chivalry is nearly identical and equally ridiculous.
Most women, even Christian women, take gentlemanly offers as implying that they are unable or are having trouble doing something. This causes them to respond by being offended and/or by demonstrating their independence and sufficiency, which, of course, discourages and eventually eliminates gentlemen from their lives.
“That’s OK, It’s Not That Heavy”
Even in my church where gentleman are common and ladies are plentiful it seems that the majority of women respond to my gentlemanly offers with statements such as, “Thank you, but I’ve got it.” or “That’s OK, it’s not that heavy.”
Though these responses could stem from a misguided desire to avoid inconveniencing me, they are most likely influenced by the ubiquitous myth of feminism that says that my offer of service is a negative judgment of their strength and competence. This why they find it necessary to correct my “false impression.”
Because of this I have found it helpful to add a disclaimer to my offers of service. Instead of merely asking to carry something for a lady and risk offending her, I say something like this, “Could I carry that for you? I know you could carry it by yourself, but I just want to serve you.”
When I phrase my offer this way it is remarkable how much more positively women respond. And it’s not because there’s something magical about my syntax, it’s just that I am accurately portraying chivalry, and it’s attractive.
You see, there is no offense in humbly offering to serve someone. Just like there’s no offense in lovingly giving someone a gift. If men and women can embrace an accurate understanding of the unspoken message of chivalry, gentlemen and their gifts will thrive.
Read: Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five
Wow, Brett. Not only is this post convicting, but encouraging to me as well. You are helping understand this vital subject more and more. Thank you.
That was an excellent article! Thanks so much for writing that. It’s so nice to hear a guy’s perspective… I wish chivalry was more popular…
Thank you, Brett. Another rich and thought-provoking post.
I wholeheartedly embrace men being gentlemen but I admit that on the rare occasion of someone making a gentlemanly offer of service, yes, I am sometimes guilty of pulling the “It’s okay; I can manage it” line. I think it stems partly from surprise that someone would offer, and partly from the fact that I wouldn’t want to take them away from another task.
I have a friend, however, who is genuinely saddened when he sees women carrying heavy loads or reaching high to get something off a top shelf, who refuse help. His example, along with these thoughts of yours, are a good reminder that a gentle “Thank you” and a willingness to allow men to embrace chivalry, is perhaps the most honouring response of all. I’ll try harder to be more gracious in my responses :).
Brett, that was *really* good. I really appreciate your way of asking to carry things. I’ll have to adopt something similar. 🙂
Brett, I think you make a great point. But when I turn down a chivalrous offer, it’s usually not so much because I’m offended or that I don’t want to inconvenience the guy; it’s because a lot of guys are only chivalrous when they are flirting. Or at least that’s the way it seems to me. I don’t want to give them the wrong impression by accepting their offers. Is this problem all my imagination or not?
Thank you for another excellent post on chivalry. It is giving me quite a bit to consider and think about.
Jamie: You’re right. That is another barrier to chivalry. I’m going to be addressing flirtation in one of the next two installments. =)
Well, if a girl is responding to chivalry through that motivation, then yes, she should examine her heart.
However, most girls aren’t responding to chivalrous offers with that in mind. If I’m carrying my bag from my dorm door to my dorm room, and some guy offers to carry it across the lobby, I’ll say “no, I’ll just take it,” becuase it would take more time to switch the bag around and rearrange than JUST TO CARRY IT. I’m not saying “oh, you are offending me! I am a militant feminazi! Go away slimey boy!”
It’s more like… “um. that would be more inconvenient than anything. Really, I’m okay.”
It’s sort of like if someone gave you a sweater that was sixteen sizes too big. As much as you appreciate the sweater, you are probably going to exchange it at the store. In the same way, as much as I appreciate guys offering to help, there are times when it wouldn’t be that helpful, if anything, it makes life more difficult.
That’s not to say that I won’t walk through doors that guys open or if I’m holding something that is going to fall I won’t squeak “oh help!” but sometimes it’s a sort of silly chivalry that seems to be occuring more so that the guy can say “look, I am so chivalrous, ohmygoodness,” then to actually serve the women around him.
I agree with BrittLeigh, I wish chilvary were more popular. I don’t think I’ve ever even had the chance to pull a, ” Thanks, but I can manage.” line:) It’s kind of sad.
I have a friend (we’ll call her Jane) who absolutely refuses to let a guy open doors or do hardly anything for her. She takes it as a personal offence (and although she isn’t exactly a feminist, she really is anti-male), and I’ve tried talking to her about it. Things such as, “Jane, if you keep shutting people down like that, they’re going to think you hate them.”
And that’s the impression turning down a sincere offer gives. “No, I don’t want you to do anything for me. You’re so disgusting to me that I wouldn’t let you open a pickle jar for me, much less a door.”
That is, of course, when the offer is sincere. If the offer comes out of nothing more than a sense of “Okay, I have to do this because I’ve been told to all my life,” then it’s not sincere. That’s not chivalry to me. It’s more like going through the motions.
Furthermore, some boys do open doors for girls for no other reason than to call attention to themselves. “Look, I’m being kind and courteous to you, not because I feel any sort of love or affection for you, but because I want you to think I’m actually a gentleman.”
Thank you for such a great post Brett! I think that this culture has really implanted into young women`s minds that men help us because they think we can`t handle it ourselves. The example you present shows prefecly how misunderstood chivalry can be. I think ladies sometimes turn down chivalry innocently too. I know that before this summer, I use to say the same line, “Oh no I got it, but thanks!” Not because I was offended, but because I didn`t really want the guy to bother himself with it. But God has definatly done a lot this summer.The Rebelution has been a great supplement for what He teaches me every day.
Good post, Brett. Tell you what…if you and I are ever at the same location and you want to carry something for me, I would let you in a heartbeat! 🙂
Anytime a guy does something gentlemanly, it makes me feel special and treasured in a wonderful way. I have NEVER felt “inferior” because a guy did or offered to do something for me, because I grew up with a proper understanding of what it meant. There are many very nice guys in the world, but only a few who are true gentlemen, and I always feel blessed when I meet them. In my mind, a gentlemen exhibits qualities that go beyond just opening doors for ladies, so that when he does open the door, you know he has the right motive. Of course, it’s not possible to know every guy who opens the door for you (or whatever it is he does), but in general I chose to take all actions in good faith with a “Thank You”.
This summer I went out to lunch with a group of new friends, and while everyone else had gotten their orders and sat down, I was still waiting for mine. One of the guys stood there with me, his tray in hand, the entire time until my order came. I can’t tell you how blessed I was by his observance and course of action in that matter! No, I didn’t “need” him to stand there, but it made me feel protected and cared about. Note to the guys here – if you don’t want a girl to take your actions the wrong way, practice being a gentlemen consistantly and your character will speak for you. Because I had spent some time with this guy previous and observed that he was a gentlemen, it didn’t come across as a threat of “interest”…rather, it was simply a facet of his gentlemanly and brotherly character. Later, this same guy offered to carry something for me that was merely an inconvenience, and I happily accepted, because as you so aptly pointed out, being a lady also includes letting guys serve you. Delight in it!
Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now, but I just love telling that story! Real gentlemen are some of the most wonderful creatures on earth. 🙂
“Instead of merely asking to carry something for a lady and risk offending her, I say something like this, ‘Could I carry that for you? I know you could carry it by yourself, but I just want to serve you.’
When I phrase my offer this way it is remarkable how much more positively women respond. And it’s not because there’s something magical about my syntax, it’s just that I am accurately portraying chivalry, and it’s attractive.”
That absolutely makes it more attractive for a woman, instead of “Let me get that for you (because you seem too weak to do it for yourself).” Good thinking.
Wonderful! It really is great to read a man of God’s take on this issue – thank you! I’ll be looking forward to the next installment.
Great post, Brett! It WAS very thought-provoking!
For 5 months this last year I had the chance to observe a gentleman at work. I was a student at a Discipleship Training School with YWAM, and this gentleman was one of the staff. He always seemed very attentive to un-opened doors and such. I remember several times being on the city bus with him. He unfailingly gave up his seat for a standing woman or an older man, and what I liked even more was that without ever saying anything to the other guys in the school, they observed him and started following his example.
When our three months of lecture phase were over, this gentleman was one of the leaders of the outreach team I had chosen to join. Near the end of the first month of outreach I hurt my knees and was unable to carry my backpack. Who immediatly offered to carry it for me? You guessed it! For several weeks he carried not only his pack but mine, and no complaints. I did lighten it as much as I could first.
God and godly women bless the gentlemen.
Thank you again and again for doing this series.
Hey guys, check out this adorable video on Taking Care of the Ladies hosted on the Vision forum website. This guy has chivalry down pat–and he’s only four years old!
I also blogged this one to tie in with your series.
I have to share what my mom used to do to remind my dad to open the door for her. She would either just sit in the car or stand at the door until he came back to open it for her. One night she sat in the care for almost 30 minutes before my dad asked my brother and I, “Where’s your mom?” We realized she didn’t come in with us. My brother laughed and said, “Dad, I think she’s still in the car!” Sure enough, there mom was, sitting in the car, looking out the window with a smile on her face! Dad rushed out and opened the door for her and she laughed and said. “I wanted to see how long it would take before you figured out I was still out here!” Dad said, what would of happend if I didn’t come out. She laughed and said, “I suppose I would have had to sleep out here.” Dad has never forgotten to open the door for my mom since!
Thanks for pointing out a new way of thinking about chivalry. Chivalry IS like a gift!
By the same token, if any guys feel discouraged by a lady’s refusal of service, remember not to give up being chivalrous, or you may “eliminate” any true ladies from your life as well.
Wow I have really enjoyed reading this series! It has been great to know what I can do as a lady to help you guys in your chivilrous acts. But heres a question. What if we give the opportunitys to the guys, but they don’t take it? Why do you think that guys (especially in my schoo) don’t act like they want to be chivilrous? Here is an example of something that happened to me the other day.
I was sitting in Algebra 2 when one of the guys in my group of four asked if he could switch me seats. I asked him why and he said that he didn’t like to turn around in order to see the board. So instead he asked me to take his place and the little inconvience of turning around. The first thing that came to my mind was what you guys have been talking about. It didn’t seem right to me that he should be bothered by such a little thing and then as me (a girl) to take his discomfort so he would be perfectly content. I switched seats with him and then he just sat and drew on his notebook instead of paying attention to the lesson. Was it right that I moved? Or should I have said no to him? It was something little but I thought about how he was doing opposite of what you guys have been talking about. Anyway just wanted to see what you guys thought! Hope you are doing great! I hope I get to see you guys sometime soon!
I really appreaciate this post, but I have a question. All my life I have been overweight, so naturally I’ve been made fun of and such, so I USED to consider myself ugly. When I went ot college for the first year (a private Christian college) I noticed that all of the sudden there were gentlemen everywhere…for the other girls. Of the 30 girls I lived with on my dorm floor I saw with my own eyes each one of them get a door opened for them, something carried, etc. at least once. I, however, never had a door opened for me or something carried for me. I would love to say I’m exaggerating, but alas I’m not. I guess my question is: what is your response to that story?
This is my first time to visit this site (and it definantly won’t be my last) and this topic instantly caught my eye because this is the way in which i have been trained all my life.
Anyway i understand what you are saying and have seen it happen several times before. I think that it has to do with the real motive behind the chivalry, are they doing it just to impress or do they really care? I have seen guys open doors for certain girls because they liked them, and not others (including older ladies). I believe it is the Attitude of the Heart and not the actions that make a True Gentleman.
Lauren: If I were you I would have looked at him incredulously and said something like, “Excuse me? You are the guy.” Of course, that may simply be my dark side coming out. The Bible does tell everyone (both guys and girls) to serve each other, but it doesn’t really serve guys to let them act unmanly.
AmandaT: I will be responding to stories like yours in the next installment. =)
Wow, this is such a fascinating series of articles. I never realized that chivalry was such a big deal. In the small Southern town I live in, I almost never have had open a door, when there was a guy going in at the same time. They just open the door and I go in and say, “Thanks”. It’s no big ordeal. They don’t act like they’re doing anything special and I don’t get any ideas that “Oh, he must like me”. I think that’s gentlemanliness (is that even a word?) at it’s best. Nobody thinks twice about it, because it’s become a habit. But judging from all the comments I’ve read, my experience must not be usual.
[…] “All my life I have been overweight,” writes Amanda, in response to our recent post, The Big Misunderstanding, “I’ve been made fun of and used to consider myself ugly. When I went off to a private Christian college I noticed that all of the sudden there were gentlemen everywhere — for the other girls.” […]
[…] We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. By holding faithfully God’s plan for men and women, let us make this transformation. Read: Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five […]
[…] Challenge yourself to remember that a gentleman is going against the current of our culture by fighting his self-centeredness and asking to serve you. If he’s already killed the ogre, let him open the door. Read: Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five […]
It is such a blessing to be able to read such an insightful and well-needed article, and then
to read also the thought-provoking responses (and to offer my own, if I wish).
Thank you. I really appreciate that and sympathize with the girl who’s in touch with her “inner feminist”.
I like the gift-giving analogy. However, I don’t like the language you used to communicate your desire to help. It sounds artificial and way too serious – like you’re trying to prove something. It think it is better to temper your good intentions with humor. I’ve seen movies from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s where a woman attempts to refuse a man’s offer to help, and he helps anyway, using a humorous line to defuse the woman’s overly-independent spirit. It’s a way of turning a woman who doesn’t appreciate you or your helping to one that’s grateful for you and your help. Humor is a great shoehorn for getting into a person’s space, and heart.
I think the reason most women I know who are worth a man’s attention won’t let a man be chivalrous is that the women are trying to be nice. They feel that it is unfair to let a man take all the burden of opening/carrying/paying/etc., and if they have the ability, they think they should do their part. Such women need to read articles like this one to understand that the result of their trying to be nice comes across as a slap in the face to men. Meanwhile, men, please don’t be too discouraged; realize that quite a lot of women are so pleased with what you are doing they feel it is too great a gift to accept. Take the opportunity to teach them that it would be even worse to reject it, as several men took the time to teach me. (And I finally learned and now am married to a wonderful gentleman.)
Nobody ever mentions (unless they did and I just didn’t read it because I’m lazy =P) that things like opening doors or carrying boxes can actually inconvenience a lady. Not always, but sometimes. Maybe she is thinking “Noooo it is easier for me to just carry it myself, I already have it in my hands and I know where I’m going.” When I hold doors open for people, I have to time it perfectly. Otherwise I actually slow them down, or else make them feel compelled to rush through.
You might say she should accept it anyway, but a real servant actually wants to be useful. Who wants to give the gift of unnecessary trouble?
I have always been the shy quiet person in the back. I have never wanted to bother people or get in their way. My best friend has CP and so I’m always the one helping her. I feel like no one likes me but, I don’t know why. I’ve given up trying to fit in with the cliques because I was shunned every single time. Half the time if people come up to me it’s because their moms have made them. When I do go over with them they ignore me there as well. I can’t break into a conversation because I don’t want to be rude. No one notices me least of all the guys. If a guy is talking to me it’s because we’ve been assigned as partners for school. They don’t open doors for if anything they run to get in the door first so that I’m the one holding the door. The adults all feel sorry for me but to every one else I’m invisible. They talk to my best friend but not usually when I’m around. I don’t want to be invisible!
Hannah said “I agree with BrittLeigh, I wish chilvary were more popular. I don’t think I’ve ever even had the chance to pull a, ” Thanks, but I can manage.” line:) It’s kind of sad.”
Same here. I don’t think I’ve ever had to say “Thanks, but I can get it”. I have, on the other hand, had to say “You could hold the door for me” a few times. 🙂 I wish gentlemen were more plentiful in my area.
It’s interesting that I’m reading this a week after Thanksgiving and an underlying theme seems to be being thankful. So, Thanks.
Oh, wow! This is awesome!! And it’s completely convicting me! I’ve been trying to accept chivalry more, but just yesterday I did that; “It’s not that heavy” thing. I was carrying a computer and asking where I could put it. A guy offered and I gave it to him, but my pride remembered to say those selfish words. Afterwords, I kicked myself! I’ve been trying not to do that! Thank you, though. This is very encouraging.
Wow that was really good. I seriously feel that way sometimes and its hard once you have been told no or something its hard to try again but this post really makes me want to go and be that servant. thanks guys
Thank you brother! I must admit, along with a few other sisters on this post, that in the chaos of our culture influences it’s easy to respond to a gentlemanly kindness with a, “that’s ok, I’ve got it”. This is a solid small hard thing to pursue!
My heart goes out to exhort you brothers and sisters who passionately and urgently embrace the beautiful complimentary design that our Creator wove into both men and women. There’s a desperate need for rebelutionaries to answer the call to live out God’s purposed design for men and women found right from the beginning in Genesis. It’s a design God purposed, not to hinder and inconvenience, but to prosper and bless the nations through. It’s all for His glory.
Thank you Brothers. Continue pressing through and persevering in chivalry allowing your sisters opportunities to embrace their Creator’s feminine design. Thank you Sisters. Contine pressing through and persevering in exhorting and “allowing” brothers to embrace their Creator’s masculan design also. This is a foundational hard thing to become faithful in that has the potential to impact the world! You’re a rebelutionary!
As we’re serving one another in these ways, remember 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
I agree completely with Amanda T. “Counterfeit Chivalry” or not, it’s very easy to receive that kind of courtesy and attention as long as you’re pretty and thin. If you’re not…. I guess they expect you to be able to take care of yourself.
Chivalry is slowly becoming nonexistant in our culture. guys have steadily been giving the message that only the”cute” girls deserve chilvilry. ouch!! Im a sixteen year old guy, and it has been discouraging to see that girls now think that someone opening a door for them is like a pickup line. I guess I just want to encourage all the guys out there who are holding the doors, just to have someone walk through the other one.
I’ve gotten that, “it’s okay, I can handle it,” thousands of times. I’ll try the “I know you can do it yourself, but I’d like to help,” tactic .
I have just started reading your articals on chivalry and I just love them! Just one thing though, you might want to be careful if you say something like,”I just want to serve you” because many girls might take it the wrong way. It is probably better to say something like Jared said,”But I want to help”.Thanks.
Ouch! Thanks for writing this Brett, I’ll keep this in mind from now on. Looking back I realize how many times I’ve said “thanks, but I’ve got it” simply because I didn’t want to inconvenience or make them carry the load. The church my dad pastors is VERY small (my siblings and I are the only ones under 35) and I’m homeschooled and not part of any homeschool group so I was never around guys (other than my two brothers) until about 2 1/2 years ago when my oldest brother went off to college. Since then he usually brings guys with him when he comes home on the occasional weekend. As a result I now have about 10 big brothers! What a blessing! But, it was new for me to have guys offering to help me with something or to open a door or anything like that. I’ll keep this in mind from now on and let them help instead of brushing off their attempt to be a gentleman.
Thanks so much for the eye opener!
P.S. I’ve really enjoyed ALL of the chivalry articles.
I’m a very independent person so this post is really hard for me to grasp. I totally agree though, we girls do have to do our part in order to save the gentlemen from extinction. Thanks for the encouragement.
thank you so much for all of your posts on chivalry! my friends and i have often joked about chivalry “being dead” but as i have been reading your articles i have seen that the small things guys offer to do (even just giving up their seat) is an act that should be appreciated-i wanted to mention that though most of us don’t realize it, the older men and women in our church bodies are GREAT examples to model ourselves after!
Thanks so much for writing that down. I find myself doing that subconciously… not as much to prove that I am man’s equal…..But because I don’t want to inconvenience the particular guy. Now that I think about it, though— guys really should be challenged like that. It builds their charcacter. When I think abou that, it is so exciting to think I am helping them!
Wow! I thought that I did a pretty good job at letting guys be gentlemen. I let them open the door and fill my glass (I even ask them to get me a drink sometimes). 🙂 But know I realize how many times I say “that’s okay. I’ve got it.” or “it’s not heavy.” I never realized that by saying this I’m depriving the guys of being a gentleman.
Thanks for the eye opener!
Oops! That’s supposed to be now 🙂
Wow, Brett, you have some REALLY good insights here! I have very often been the not-wanting-to-incovenience type (I’m the sort of person who’s often perfectly content to be a wall-flower; the LAST thing I want to do is cause someone inconvenience!) I never thought that it might actually be even more “inconvenient” for a man to be turned down. I’ll definitely keep all this in mind in the future! Thanks!
P.S. At first, I thought these articles seemed like the kind of thing only girls would be really interested in; but I was VERY happy to see that some guys have read them, too, and have actually been inspired and encouraged to go out and be real gentlemen again because of them!!! I mean, that is SO GREAT!!!!
Good jod Brett!!!
I got slugged hard by a girl in my youth group once because she thought I was insituating that she was not capable of lifting a fifty pound box… after that I wasn’t sure I wanted to help her anymore.
I like it when you said, “Could I carry that for you? I know you could carry it by yourself, but I just want to serve you.” It makes it sound more caring and not just saying that you think we’re weak b/c we’re girls. You want to serve and we need to encourage you. You’ve written some good articles. 🙂
Hmm… this is very interesting. I can’t think of anything now, but I’m sure there are times I’ve done a similar thing out of embarrassment. I’m so surprised and self conscious that I say no, and yet I complain when men aren’t gentlemen??? O.o That makes no sense, and maybe that’s why guys say they don’t understand us girls…
Ive really enjoyed reading these speeches. Its made me look at my background and upbringing and how it has directed the way Ive responded to chivalry in guys.
Growing up, I had a very abusive stepfather who’d do these sorts of things like opening doors and carrying things etc but wanted things to be done in return to him which were entirely innappropriate. As a girl growing into a woman this would have seriously negatively impacted on my perception of men had I not met my true father in heaven when I was 14. And even though the abuse continued til I left home for college, my spiritual daddy put other wonderful, caring and godly men in my life to demonstrate how women should be treated and I am grateful that I had the comparison so I could get out of that destructive pathway.
Nowadays I have an immense respect for guys (young and old) who treat their wives, sisters and mothers this way and well as strangers. When you do this, you give hope to women who seek evidence of gentlemen in the world. The men who gave this hope to me as a young girl didnt even know who they were impacting. They didnt know what my home life was like, all they did was treat me with courtesy and respect. And for that I thankfully love them as a sister and daughter in Christ.
I hope my wee story provides motivation to all guys out there, when you are a gentleman you are impacting not only on the woman you are serving but also on those who witness what you are doing. And that is a blessing.
Like Jamie (5th post down) my reason for refusing a young man’s ‘chivalrous’ offer is usually because I wasn’t sure if the offer came from the heart or flirtatiousness.
And I’m not one to shun help either. While at a homeschool convention (of which my brothers did not attend) I would actually pause at doors and briefly wonder why they weren’t opening, I had become so accustom to my brothers always being there for me!
Thank you so much for posting this series! It has been very thought-provoking. I am blessed to be surrounded by many very helpful gentleman. But I, like many of the girls who have commented, have never realized how many times I’ve said “No, thanks, I’ve got it.” to a well meaning guy without thinking about the reason behind my refusal.
Thank you for allowing God to teach and work through you both!
Great post!! What a great way of looking at it…. the right way of looking at it.
“Could I carry that for you? I know you could carry it by yourself, but I just want to serve you”
To be honest, if someone said something like that to me, I’d think he was a little nutty. Overeager, at the least. And sometimes a woman has a good reason for wanting to do something for herself, and sometimes she feels she doesn’t need to offer an explanation beyond “No, thanks.” Maybe she’s carrying something fragile or personal, and doesn’t feel comfortable trusting anyone else with it, or maybe she has some need or desire to perform a task in solitude, or maybe she just prefers not to talk to men she doesn’t know. Sometimes “No, thanks” is just “No, thanks”. Help that’s not wanted is no help at all.
While I enjoy at least the basic concept of gentlemen and ladies and the broader idea of chivalry (in the sense of serving those in need and working for justice), I have to note that the reason for this ‘misconception’ can, at least in my mind, in part be traced to the way many people talk about women and men (check out Deborah Tannen’s books for a thorough treatment of /that/ subject!). Often subtle undertones create an understanding that women are inferior. Notice that seemingly half the English insults to a man’s strength imply that he is feminine in some way. The one that immediately comes to mind is commenting on a man’s or boy’s lack of athleticism by saying that he runs or throws ‘like a girl’ or that it’s worse if boys are beaten in athletic competition by girls than by other boys. I think things like this insult everyone involved, ignoring the fact that people have different abilities or giftings – _people_ of all types, male or female. The young sons of a Xian friend of mine were joking recently that they were going to use a Barbie ball to hit other boys during a game of dodgeball and tease them that they’d been ‘hit by a girl.’ Sorry, I’m not laughing. This may be a small thing, but after a lifetime of dealing w/lots of small implications that I am _less_ because I’m _female_ I admit I’m oversensitive. I do at times let my male friends help with things, but notice I say friends – at this point it has an element of trust in it. I know there’s a foundation of mutual respect there. Other times, you know, it’s simply unnecessary and, as the previous poster mentioned, maybe I just want to carry my own things. I’ve always thought that old tradition of the woman waiting in the car for the man to come alllllllll the way around to open the door was a bit ridiculous – let’s get going for goodness sake. Nothing against people opening doors for others – I do it whenever the opportunity presents itself – but sometimes the ceremony of things just gets in the way of life – of things that are truly more important.
I like what you guys are doing here.
I guess I have one caution that this issue makes me think of strongly, and that is not to confuse Godliness, righteousness, and issues of what/who is a man or woman of God, with some behaviors that truly are simply passed down from European culture — it is not necessarily Christian; sometimes it is simply western culture. In the end, if you truly have love and respect for each person you meet, and are seeking God for wisdom in how to see them truly and serve them truly, then He will show you or give you that flash of insight. Sometimes the best way to serve, if that truly is your desire, is to let someone carry their own burden and walk beside them through it (figuratively and/or literally). But old cultural forms are not always the most helpful. Some of the ideas behind them are helpful, but the forms themselves have lost or changed their meaning in the new cultural context.
A book that I truly enjoyed was Dorothy Sayers (short) book ‘Are Women Human?’ and I think it speaks much more clearly than I have here about the general issue anyway, if not specifically about carrying things.
Perceiving chivalrous actions as “gifts” towards women is superior to perceiving chivalrous actions as insults to women – at least on face value. However, this action still singles out persons for differential treatment based on gender. Chivalry, if it is indeed a gift, may be a “positive” act of discrimination, but it is still an act of discrimination. Chivalry is the affirmative action system of gender politics.
I can understand what you’re saying (I think), but I’m wondering why you seem to think (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that all “singling out persons for differential treatment based on gender” is bad. I mean, of course, it CAN be bad; but I think it very much depends on the type of “differential treatment” taking place. For example, obviously, when it comes to things like voting and holding office in government, men and women ought to have equal rights– that goes without saying. But I just think that, if we’re treated EXACTLY the same in EVERYTHING– not only will life get a lot less interesting, and, in my opinion, less fun– but we might start to forget how very different we really are. “Equal” means having the same value; it doesn’t just mean “the same”. God made men and women equal, but he most definitely did not make them the same; they (we) are meant to COMPLEMENT each other, and that couldn’t happen if we were exactly the same. Fortunately, we never will be exactly the same, no matter how “the same” we treat each other; those differences (and they go a LOT deeper than just physical) are there, wether we like it or not. But we might forget about them. That’s why I think that chivalry and the whole tradition of gentleman and lady is so awesome! It doesn’t let us forget. It’s a small, shadowy, yet constant reminder that God didn’t make men exactly the same as women, and he didn’t make women exactly the same as men; it’s a little, imperfect, yet beautiful picture of the complementarity (is that a word???) that God created us with, and a reminder that he has Plans for that complementarity– even if we don’t fully understand them and/or they aren’t fully realized till we get to Heaven!
I guess this all might not make much sense if you don’t even believe in God. But I basically just wanted to say that differential treatment based on gender is not always bad– it can, in fact, be good and beautiful. The gentleman-lady thing reminds us of our differences and complementarity ((I hope that’s a word!!)). And I, for one, very much enjoy being reminded!
I can’t believe there ae guys out there who care about stuf like this!!! My family is really into the idea that “women can do anything men can do” and I totally disagree with my family on this subject. I think that women are made to be delicate, feminine creaturs because that is the way God made us!!! 😀 I really respect a guy when he opens a door for me . You’re doing an awsome job Alex and Brett! God Bless you!
Lots of spelling errors, Sorry!!!!
This is great, and I really am sorry that I have not gone out of my way to help others as much as I should have. As a Boy Scout, this is especially important as the Scout slogan is “do a good turn daily”, and a few of the twelve points of the scout law are: courteous, kind, cheerful, and reverent.
I agree with Maria and Jade. I think that women should be equal in certain areas, but are delicate and feminine (without meaning that as a negative thing, but as one of the beauties of women). First Timothy reads as follows:
1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 7And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.
8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.
9I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
When reading this, one might think that Paul had something against women. However, you must keep in mind that at this time, women were not supposed to learn at all. Paul said that women SHOULD be able to learn. I think that just shows that some distinction between men and women is good, but women are not inferior to men.
I know that when I do something for a girl, I don’t do it thinking “there is no way she could have done that”, but instead thinking “wow, I am glad i could help her.”
I thank you for this article. I have been homeschooled all my life, and I have had the chance to be around some fine young gentlemen. Let me assure all young men that girls NEVER forget even the slightest gentleman courtesy extended in a Christ-honoring fashion! I can personally name all the young men who have held the door for me within the last 7 years (I didn’t start noticing gentlemanly behavior until about age 10 or so).
One time on a field trip, there were no seats available for me, and a young man 2 or 3 years my senior stood up and offered me his seat. Honestly, to me, having never been shown such an obvious courtesy, I was extremely thankful, but also a little embarassed. (Which, of course, I had no just cause to be! :D) Still, I thanked him, and accepted the gesture. I have never forgotten it!
I know of a few young ladies who feel like it is putting girls down to accept such courtesy, but I disagree. I have no problem with the fact that the Lord God in His Almighty wisdom created women to be weaker than men. This is not putting down a young ladies intellect, but physical strength-wise, a young lady at her strongest (age 25) is the equivalent of a man at age 50! We are not built to serve in the military, it is not our role to militarily protect our country, and we should just accept this fact! After all, it’s wonderful to be a woman! We do not personally have to worry about our care as girls, our fathers and brothers protect and care for us, and someday (as we all dream of!) a husband may come to take the role of protector and provider.
Young men, not only is such behavior gentlemanly, young ladies really do notice and apprecate these gestures of kindnes.
i have read this post several times over and i agree that if we dont keep chivalry going that it will eventually be earsed from our culture.
Thank you for this post- I love everything that you are doing to encourage modern day chivalry and have been challenged to accept chivalrous offers. All too often I find I don’t accept offers to help me carry stuff and take seats just out of habit. I do have a question though: If all Christians are called to serve, then why is it men in particular who have to?
I just don’t get how sometimes girls go to these extremes of giving speaches. For example: “I can do it myself you sexest pig. Just because you see a girl carrying a heavy…(Ect)” I think you get the point. So that was a girl I haven’t even met. How can girls just asume things like that insantly? On some ocasones they can end up going from calling someone a sexist to being one. It’s just my opinoin.
honestly, and not to be rude to any women, but even if the thing that is offered to be carried, i think that you should accept that offer. in a way, it kind of “spurns” a guy’s self esteem, and it makes them feel weak. (i get that allot!) i dont understand that! please explain to me. shoot me an email:
i wish chivalry took place at my school.. many times guys dont care or even ask to help.. i have had some offers to help or open the door and i really try to thank them but it rarely happens. so guys, please please be conscientious to ladies, and ladies thank them!!!!!!!! i cant stress enough to guys that even if their offer is rejected to not stop! some girls (no offense) are just jerks and try to down guys & some just dont want help but there are some who will love it if you ask so dont get discouraged please!!! and to all guys who read this, i cant thank you enough for being kind and thoughtful to us ladies 🙂
I can’t help but see this as an exageration. I am quick to refuse chivalry, but it has little to with believing that the man offering the chivalry considers me inferior. It has little to do with not wanting you to be inconvenienced either. Often, the chivalry offered just doesn’t make sense. For example, if I’m carrying a bag and you offer to take it I may say no for various reasons: maybe I have something in it that I don’t want you to see; maybe it would actually inconvenience ME; maybe its a special bad from my grandma, and I don’t want you to get it dirty. Ok, so I admit that those reasons are unlikely (especially the last one..), but the point is that there are soo many possibilities- LEGIT reasons that could cause me to refuse your offer.
However, that said, kudos to the guys out there who really do try to be curteous. I promise it is appreciated! Just please don’t be offended if we decided not to accept your offer- 99% of the time we will have a good reason.
On behalf of the entire female population, I want to apologize to you gentlemen.
This is particularly convicting because just a few minutes ago, i was walking across campus and on my way out of a building, a guy coming in opened the door and stood there, holding it for me. However, I did not realize he was waiting for me to go through it until I was halfway out the *other* door (normally the guy just charges right through it). It flustered him a little that I did not accept, and I felt really bad.
Guys, please know that sometimes when we “reject” your chivalry, we are not rejecting you or your gesture, we are just not used to your manners and don’t realize what you are doing until after the fact.
This was a great post. Guys please take the chivalry thing to heart! You guys have no idea how encouraging your offers are! When a guy offers to help me I feel as if the fight to be biblically feminine is not a losing battle!
Brett, thank you so much for showing a guy’s point of view on the subject! It’s refreshing to hear the other view point, rather than my own or my friend’s!
I think the disclaimer is a great idea. 🙂 I typically find that the way the question is phrased decides whether or not I accept the help– if you ask me “Do you need [or even ‘want’] help with that?” I tend to get a little defensive (look, I can carry my own bag! It’s not even that heavy!!)
I will definitely try harder to accept your help in the future, and thank you so much for trying and putting up with people who fight your help.
I agree that guys need to be more chivalrous and that we really do need to be more appreciative. HOWEVER. While i love it when guys open the door, get me water, get up and grab a fork at the caf when i forget one. i can open my car door. seriously 🙂 although i wouldn’t diss a guy who did it for me i think it goes back to the ‘sticky rocks’ theory of gifts.
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Thank you so much for this post. I appreciate chivalry…a lot! And I’ve been trying to improve on not ignoring or refusing it when offered. Honestly, I got on this website to remind myself that the good guys still exist, and I’ve been encouraged! So thanks:)
I understand where you’re coming from, but the reason that someone’s “inner feminist” is offended when you insist upon opening doors and carrying boxes is because you are implicitly saying that she cannot do so herself. If this chivalry was applied equally to men and women, it could be compared to any other type of gift giving like the CD you mentioned. But that metaphor is poor when you consider that in reality it is only men “assisting” women – out of the goodness of their hearts. If you are doing this to be a kind and generous human, why shouldn’t women carry boxes for men or men open car doors for each other?
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Thanks Brett for posting this. I have read parts one through three and completely agree that this should be more commonplace and its not. Common sense is just not common any more. I know that in my youth group we have snacks all the time. But the youth leaders (parents of some of the youth) make sure that the girls always get the snack first, and then they allow the guys to come and get a snack. It’s wonderful to know that there are others who are striving for chivalry.
Now, what is not ladylike is when girls specifically leave their coat in their backpack or at home just so they can stand there and freeze. Then after, they complain while they’re outside, making the guys feel like they should give their coat to her just to be nice, when really the girl is just flirting. That’s what makes me upset when girls will take advantage of guys like that.
A bit surprised it seems to smpile and yet useful.
Thank you so much for your posts, they are awesome! I am so glad to hear young men on this issue. I have read the posts several times and they have helped me to be more aware of how I respond to chivalry!
Encouragement to guys: although, sadly, what was said about girls thinking you think they are wimps etc. is sometimes true, there are cases where the girl is so un-used to this treatment that she is just caught off her guard and is unsure of how to respond and so just gives the automatic “no thanks”. I feel so ashamed when I think of times when I have done this. I also remember many many many of the small acts of chivalry young men have done towards me or have seen done for others, and the blessing it is to see young men being CHEERFUL in kind acts toward ladies or elderly people. So PLEASE don’t give up, give us girls another chance!
I’m lovin this series!
I’m a girl, but it is really good for me to be able to see the heart behind chivalry. I often give a shy smile and a “oh, thanks! But I think I’ve got it” because I either don’t want to inconvenience them or because I am feeling the need to be strong and “impressive” in that moment. (I struggle with wanting guys to think of me as cool and capable because I don’t have a dad or older brother in my life.) but knowing that they are just trying to be nice and they would actually prefer if I let them help me is a really good thing to know!!
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