Is chivalry dead? No, but …

Posted by: ST on September 21, 2009 at 9:50 pm

… there are times I’d love to jerk a flippin’ knot in some people!

I am flat-out worn out tonight. As I noted over the weekend, I was wrapped up in rearranging/reorganizing my home office for a good bit of Saturday and Sunday. It had gotten too cramped and a couple of pieces of storage furniture (a 5/600 CD holder and a small bookcase) had to go. In order to do this I had to shift around tons of CDs and books to my other, bigger bookshelf, and I also had to consolidate at the same time, and movce furniture. I got rid of probably 300 CDs and 100 or so books, mostly hardback.

All of these items were, of course, upstairs, and needed to be transported downstairs. I had to snag some plastic crates in order to bring everything down piecemeal. All total, I had three heavy plastic crates, two big paper mall shopping bags – also full, and a CD storage unit with 5 or 6 shelves to go with it. Ended up not getting rid of the small bookshelf.

It was quite a chore to get everything downstairs, out of the house and into the car (to give to Good Will), but I did it – in large part thanks a hand truck I borrowed from work. Keep in mind I have three “steps” to go down to get to the car. There is the step right outside my front door that leads to the front “porch” area, there is the step that leads to the walkway below the little porch area, and then there is the curb step that leads to the parking lot. I managed to get everything into the car in three trips, but they were eventful balancing acts.

What irked me was that I saw my neighbor’s b/f sitting on the couch by the front window, looking out of it – he saw me and waved … as I struggled to get the three heavy crates in my car. Did not get up, come outside to offer to help or anything. I rarely ever ask for help for most heavy duty things I do around the house, unless it is something I absolutely know I cannot handle, but I was obviously in distress and could have used a hand.

To top it off, when I (stupidly) tried to pick up the big bag of CDs to shift them to the front seat to make room for a few more items in the back seat, the bag busted and several of the CDs went sprawling into the parking lot. As I was picking them up off the pavement, I looked at my neighbor’s window and saw that the guy was still staring. Not only that, but another neighbor was outside getting something out of his SUV and witnessed the bag busting but continued to talk on what must have surely been an important call on his cell phone. He gave me a sympathetic look. I wanted to slug him. He went back inside before I had a chance to act.

Finally, I got everything into the car – including that massive CD storage unit, and went to Good Will, where the nicest young male employee got upset with me for trying to unload the car by myself. I drove back to the house, feeling good about what all I had gotten accomplished in the last three days. Once I got home, I went back in to grab the handtruck to load back into the car. That thing is somewhat heavy and difficult to load if you don’t put it in the car just right. Wouldn’t you know but the same neighbor who was on his phone earlier just happened to come outside again while I was trying to get this thing into the car and once more he did not offer to help at all?

I know I’m not the only gal this has happened to. I’ve talked to female friends before about the fact that it seems like more and more there is a certain selfish mindset that exists today – and it’s not just with men. More and more it seems like to me – based purely on anecdotal evidence – that people are less likely to volunteer to help others today than they used to be. 10, 15 years ago situations like the ones I described earlier didn’t happen here. But my gal friends and I talk about it often – men don’t open doors as much for women as they used to, women will sell their female co-workers out if it means getting a job promotion or praise from the boss, etc. I realize some of the former comes from men being confused by rabid fems who make any polite gentlemanly gesture sound like a horrible crime, and the latter comes from the desire to be competitive in the job market, but that’s still no excuse for basic common decency.

I have noticed this more with the younger set (under 30 crowd) than the older set. I’ve read studies that talk about how the younger generations tend to be more self centered than previous generations, and didn’t want to believe it was true, but the more you see it with your own eyes, the more undeniable it becomes. I’ve got other male neighbors, friends, and co-workers, most of them my age or older, who wouldn’t hesitate to help someone they saw struggling. Same same with female friends and neighbors who are in my age range or older. But the younger crowd? Not always a guarantee.

I hate being pessimistic, but I fear it’s only going to get worse, what with the younger generations scarily wanting to be “servants” to government more so than being courteous, helpful, and respectful to their fellow average Joes and Janes.

Your thoughts?

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28 Responses to “Is chivalry dead? No, but …”


  1. Xrlq says:

    My thoughts? That you should move north, to the South. Chivalry may be dead in Charlotte, but it’s alive and well in the Triad.

  2. Great White Rat says:

    ST, you’re seeing the consequences of decades of strident feminists haranguing us males for anything they perceived as slights or insults to women. Do something as simple and easy as hold a door for a woman, and you took the chance of receiving a snarl and sharp comment in return.

    Those of us who grew up before such nonsense took root were mostly able to see it for the stupidity it is and laugh it off. That’s why you see those of your age and older who will still help. But the younger people have been subjected to this garbage since they were able to think. Chivalry’s a quaint remnant of bygone days to many of them. They’ve simply never learned any other way.

    Add to this the emphasis on ME that’s occurred at the same time. Education stopped emphasizing learning facts and morphed into exercises in self-esteem. Nothing became more important than knowing how special you are. Think that doesn’t create a tendency to self-centered narcissism?

    That doesn’t mean all young people are self-absorbed clucks, of course. There are millions who have sound values and understand they’re not the center of the universe. If not, we’d have no military, among other things.

    But next time you have a major job like this, you need to let us know. Just put a sign-up sheet for volunteers to help at the end of the bar. ;)

  3. X – that’s good to hear! I figured the liberal Triad area would be getting as bad as Charlotte.

    I really need to move outside of the city limits.

  4. Steve Skubinna says:

    Have to second GWR on this one – as one who’s received his share of snippy comments from women outraged that I held a door (and yet they still walk through it) I can understand if a younger generation would “learn” that it’s demeaning and insulting to offer help. Me, I’m stubborn and contrary and knowing that some women get upset only makes me do it with a smile.

    But not all – not even most – women respond that way. So I still live up to the outmoded standards I was raised with, and as a bonus annoy people whom I hold in contempt. It’s a win-win.

  5. camojack says:

    I’ll third GWR…although, had I been there, I’d have offered to help.

    Of course, I’m not prone to brainwashing… ;)

  6. Kate Thompson says:

    I’m on disability after working 35 years as a medical technologist-5 herniated discs from neck to lower back. Just blew out the ACL in my right knee yesterday.
    Whenever I finish shopping at a local megastore, I have to put away my cart. Being the bright-minded people they are, the store has the cart stalls at the end of the parking row. 99% of the time, as I’m hobbling to the cart stall, people walk right by me and go into the store. Very rarely does anyone offer to take the cart back to the store they’re going in to at that time.
    I make a point of taking other people’s carts when going in…sometimes that extra 100 feet of walking leaves you nearly crawling abck to my car.
    thanks for letting me vent.
    Kate from outside Flint, MI, one of the unemployemt capitals of the U.S.

  7. Cindy says:

    You could move to Boone! I don’t think I’ve had a moment where I’ve needed help and didn’t get it. People up here are wonderful!

  8. Carol says:

    I find the older generation wise and beautiful to be around as a whole. I rarely find a younger person (in their 20’s) who gives a damn about anybody but themselves. But when I do, I definitely let them know how great it is to know them.

    Some of it is feminists, but I believe most of it is the welfare state of this nation and the I-itis in this country.

    The other thing that really bothers me is the obesity in this country. Have you ever traveled to other countries and noticed that we’re the only country with a majority of fat people? If they don’t give a damn about how they look (or smell, yuck), they don’t much give a damn about anybody else … hence, not opening doors or helping a neighbor or passing out meals at a soup kitchen.

    I, too, don’t have much hope. Obama has been successful at weakening our country and causing many to think they deserve something from someone else rather than work for it themselves. I used to think my older years would be grand because I’ve worked my butt off all my life, but the future doesn’t look too bright. Hey, maybe that’s why I’ve become somewhat of a hermit.

  9. Leslie says:

    On a crowded New York subway car, I was standing next to a woman who had a baby in a stroller (she was not offered a seat). We came to 72nd St., a stop where you can transfer from one line to another–busy station. She was trying to get out of the car before the doors closed. Nobody would move. Finally I yelped: “Yo! We got a woman with a baby stroller here!” Suddenly, as if by wizardry, the waters parted.

    At the entrance to a crowded restaurant, people were milling around while an elderly threesome including one woman in a wheelchair were trying to exit. Finally the woman who was pushing the disabled woman said, “can we get out, please. I’m pushing a wheelchair.” People moved, but nobody–except me–thought to open the exit door for them.

    ST: Dang! I wished I’d known about your CD/book cleanout. I might have bought some stuff from ya if I knew what you owned.

  10. Tom TB says:

    I was raised as a gentleman, and was snipped at during the feminism of the early ’70s “Why do you think I can’t do it myself? Because you’re a MAN?” But I figured as long as I have upper body strength, I would still offer my assistance!

  11. Lorica says:

    are less likely to volunteer to help others today than they used to be. 10, 15 years ago

    This is why we have new laws forcing people to volunteer. =))

    I dated a radical feminist once. LOL :) She was so funny. I openned the door for her as we were going into a restuarant one time and she barked at me about it. I just looked into her pretty blue eyes smiled and said “yeah I know”, she blushed. :) That was when I knew that she really didn’t mind. Sadly things didn’t work out between us. It’s all good none the less.

    Also there as a young lady in an office I worked at and at the age of 24 she walked into the boss’ office and told her, that in 2 weeks she was going to be finished with her internship and she was expecting a promotion 2 weeks after that. The boss laughed at her. A year later she was still in the office without her promotion. LOL – Lorica

  12. J.P. Travis says:

    It’s funny you should have this story on your website. Yesterday I picked up two women from the airport, coworkers from another city. At the airport and back at the office where I brought them, it was awkward for me. As a man I would normally offer to carry the little rolling carryon one of them had, but in a work setting I don’t dare… especially with college-educated women who have received the full dose of modern politically correct brainwashing. It’s not worth the possible hassle of being castigated for being chauvinist. If I were your neighbor though, I would have helped… especially since I hear you’re hot.

  13. Don Parker says:

    I’m afraid that I would not have intervened to help either, unless you were someone I know personally. I still behave chivalrously(sp?) to my wife and to other women I see when I pick her up after church. But that is the extent of it.

    In our litigatious environment, and as a contract employee who spends most of his time on the road, trying to help a strange(to me) woman is asking for a sexual harassment complaint or police visit. Co workers on other contracts have been fired for holding doors open, offering to share umbrellas, and other such stuff. I am very careful on the job and elsewhere not to talk with women or children of any type except as it pertains to any business that I might have with the person. On the road, I keep entirely to myself. I avoid female clerks, and buy my groceries in the wee hours of the morning to avoid the women. Paranoid?

    When you have witnessed the lead designer on a major project fired 30 minutes after he held the door for a woman who strenuously objected to this, despite his outstanding technical skills and the support of the women in our department, as I have, then you can mock me and my fears. Or go ahead now.

    Until things change, I could very well be one of those men watching and not doing anything. “Attempted rape” charges are a definite concern. Trust me.

  14. Rickvid in Seattle says:

    On the bus every day I see this played out. If men are left standing on a crowded bus, well, okay unless they are injured or loaded down with stuff. Then I offer a seat. Women, elderly, injured, kids, same thing. I don’t care if anyone objects, and actually nobody has. Some turn down the offer, but graciously.

    What really gets me, tho, is these bags of XY chromosomes sitting on thier duffs who look at me with all the comprehension of an ameoba when I offer a seat. They are totally clueless, it seems.

    Finally, once in London my ex- and I were on the tube. Newcastle were playing Manchester United and footballers were everywhere. A group of quite drunken Newcastle supporters got on at one stop, wearing colors, singing and being very merry. Nobody really minded, even tho the car was crowded. At the next stop, a little old lady with a cane got on. Three or four of the footballers hopped up as if they’d been poked with a pin! “‘ere go, Mum, ‘ave a seat right here!” Some folks could take a lesson from drunk footballers.

  15. ST, I’m sure you wouldn’t, but there are women who would take offense at being offered help with a physical chore. After all, there are women who take offense at having a man hold a door for them…and a significant number of men who’d prefer not to risk the ire of such.

    It has been my experience to be slagged off by all the following categories of humanity when I made an unsolicited offer of assistance:
    — Young women
    — Older women
    — Pregnant women
    — Women with children
    — Women carrying packages
    — Women attempting to fix a flat
    — Women in the process of being mugged. (Yes, really.)
    — And as icing on the cake, a blind senior citizen — a man, not a woman — who’d dropped his cane and couldn’t quite lay his hand on it.

    Now, I’m aware that, by Occam’s Razor, we should try the simplest available explanation first — that it’s something about me — but as I’m 57 years old and strive at all times for gentlemanly demeanor and behavior, I find the notion unsustainable. Also, I know other men, each one the certified spirit of courtesy, who’ve had very similar experiences. Which suggests that there might be something beyond the prevalent spirit of self-absorption that’s inhibiting American manhood from offering American womanhood a manly helping hand.

    All we can do is soldier on.

  16. md says:

    I am forced to concur with the Rat and others…the biggest reason that you dont see common-sense help-your-neighbor behaviors that heretofore were considered chivalry, is that far too many women react with instinctive hostility and contempt when a man tries to behave in such a way.

    We are numbed into silence by 40 years of being told by our enlightened female betters that it is chauvanism and patriarchal oppression to open a door for a woman or offer to help with a heavy lift or some such behaviors that used to be an no-big-deal everyday occurences.

    I personally still try to be as polite and helpful as possible to women and rarely have I been subjected to rude stares or open verbal contempt for trying to help. But it has happened to me and many many other nice everyday Joes i know.

    Thus many men dont help as much anymore because too many women have made it painfully obvious that “we dont want or need the help of some knuckle-dragging oppressive man.”

    Sad but all too true these days.

  17. Alex Curylo says:

    “But my gal friends and I talk about it often – men don’t open doors as much for women as they used to”

    That’s because men don’t like getting insulted, spat on, etc. for doing so.

    At least in “progressive’ cities like Vancouver, a clear majority of < 30 year old women have the attitude exemplified here in a thread from LiveJournal about bus seats:

    MALE: "I personally don't understand those who can continue sitting while woman is standing (she don't have to be disabled, pregnant or anything to be able to sit)"

    FEMALE A: "That's pretty misogynistic as well. Being a woman is not a disability."

    MALE: "Why are you trying to find phisical disability reason in this gesture?It is just a form of being polite person IMHO. "

    FEMALE B: "Do you offer your seat to men as well or does having a vagina mean a person is weaker and cannot stand?"


    And that's *polite* discussion in the twentysomething crowd these days. Hardcore is spitting on men who open a door for you.

    Really, the shocking thing is that you find any men who still do it at all, I would say.

  18. jeff says:

    When I’m going through a door and someone is right behind me, I try to remember to hold it for them rather than let it close in their face.

    If the person is a man, 80% of the time he says “thanks.” Regardless of age or race.

    If the person is a women, 90% of the time she does not say “thanks.”

    I do think we have a serious problem with sense of entitlement among women in this country.

    OTOH, I’ve never encountered a woman who actually expressed resentment at having the door held for her.

  19. david foster says:

    C S Lewis wrote an interesting essay on chivalry which is excerpted here.

  20. I think you need new neighbors!

    I have a southern gentleman friend who lives in Charlotte and he says he can’t wait to move back to Georgia, since Charlotte is crawling with rude yankee transplants.

  21. Don L says:

    At the height of the feminist movement, I, being a middle-aged male, was loudly and publicly taken to task for offering my seat on a commuter bus to a middle aged- business woman. As she berated me mercilessly for assuming she was helpless because she was a woman, the entire bus went silent. I responded (just as loudly)that I was offering her my seat, not because she was a woman, but because she appeared older. It was a pleasant ride home after that.

  22. Jos Metadi says:

    Chivalry is a lot more than just a man serving a woman.

    The chivalric code was about being faithful to God, being patriotic to your country, being protective of the weak, being courageous, being honest, being generous, and being heroic. These virtues are interdependent. It’s impossible to keep one while tearing down the rest.

    Our culture as a whole has attacked all of these virtues through denigration, through lawsuits, through brainwashing, through criminal charges, through over-medicating, etc.

    If you want to have strong men who help, not take advantage, you’d better be doing everything you can to promote and praise all these virtues in younger men. Your parents generation, by and large, didn’t.

  23. Baklava says:

    ST, I just read this after a week of helping people :)

    A neighbor lady (about 60 yrs old) came and asked what plants I was planting. Right away I offered to help her get them in the ground in her yard if she gets some for her yard.

    Also, I spent about 10 hours fixing 2 computers and a printer for a family that does a lot of charity work. I normally charge for the work I do but didn’t for them.

    Thirdly, I offered to help this man and woman at Home Depot get their large plants and bags of soil that they just purchased into their truck. They declined.

    And Kate, you’ll be happy to know that almost every time I’m at the grocery store I offer to take somebody’s cart or I ask “do you need a cart” to people walking by into the store. Some people look at me annoyed. But some people “GET IT!” :)

  24. Cricket says:

    Back in the late ’70s, it was awful. My brother was on a bus coming home from school. A middle-aged lady got on and my brother got out of his seat. She immediately began berating him with all the feminist baloney. He tried to explain, but she just kept verbally beating on him. Finally, he shouted, “Dammit, lady! I’m trying to get OFF the bus! You’ve kept here three stops past mine!”

    On another occasion, I was in New York City in 1976. I walked out after dark to get something at a quickie mart. As I opened the door, I saw a young woman walking up behind me. So I stepped aside and held the door. She stopped in her tracks and stared at me in alarm. Almost immediately, I thought she was about to scream. So I stammered out, “Ma’am, I don’t know what I’m doing – I’m from Ohio!” At that, she smiled and walked in with a, “thanks!”

    Guess I’ll always hold the doors and give up my seat. Can’t help it. Please remember me if you’re my jury someday.

  25. Kate says:

    Yes, people have become self centered and tend not to see an opportunity to help others…as noted by various folks here. SO I have to believe that my husband must be the most chivalrous man alive…he will help anyone, anywhere, anytime and despite whatever inconvenience it might impose. He has changed flat tires, helped people with their engine problems (he works on cars all the time), has help unfortunate men and women in all kinds of fixes….one poor woman had a flat tire and no spare. She had her kids with her and was in a fix….he gave her our spare which fit and we arranged to help her find a tire. I have to say, no one ever made a snide remark….everyone was thankful. But best of all was the wonderful feeling that you get when you help others.

  26. Chris says:

    Generational attitudes only explain part of it. Chivalry is also dependent upon geography. I live in a west Texas city of 100,000 pop., a freakishly polite enclave of genuine kindness when compared to larger cities. In Abilene or San Angelo TX a stranger is likely to help with a flat tire. In Cleveland, OH you`d be lucky to have someone come to your assistance if you were getting your @ss beat in a crowded area. I`ve spent years living in both regions so I know of what I speak.

  27. Would he have helped if you had asked him?