Something happened this weekend that really got me thinking. I was having a beer with a long lost friend of mine from Curacao (for the sake of anonymity let’s call her Ariel), when she uttered the following words:
“What can I say, chivalry must be dead.”
I chuckled politely at first; you see Ariel is far more attractive than I, so I do my best to tip-toe along the line between conservative judgement and playful repartee, but speaking honestly, the statement did strike a nerve. The reason for her comment was that she had just received a text from an old male suitor in the midst of our pleasant conversation, a friend she had not seen or heard from in over a year. Despite the chronological canyon separating their last exchange from the present, he chose to open with this gem of a line: “Hey…are you on Twitter?” Following about ten minutes of mild mockery laced with social media puns, she came to the aforementioned conclusion that chivalry, had in fact, ceased to exist. I offered her a drink to restore her faith, marked one in the assist column for TwitterGuy and moved away from the subject for the time being.
What bothered me most about the whole ordeal was not that Ariel chose to blame the entire institution of chivalry for just one man’s lyrical shortcomings, but the fact that she chose to criticize it at all. Why? Three reasons:
Firstly, true chivalry has never existed in our society (at least not in the classical sense of the word) and therefore it cannot be made fun of for being dead. The idea of chivalry has been heavily romanticized and remodeled by women over the last 700 years, tampered with and twisted from its original existence in archaic texts,
- [circa 1250 A.D.] Chivalry (n.): the rules and customs of medieval knighthood
into something a little more GQ, like this:
- [circa 2012] Chivalry (n.): the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.
While modern women have dressed the word up in Paul Smith, gelled its hair and filled its hands with roses and bath salts, scholars will tell you that knights of lore were actually some of worst gentlemen of the medieval era – and no, not the James Dean look-alike assholes that high school girls find sexy, the kind that murder people for sport.
Just to make things a little more clear, here are a few things that chivalrous knights did:
- Stab people with lances
- Stab people with swords
- Wear chain-linked armor and steel-plated helmets
Here are a few things a chivalrous man might do today:
- Open doors for women
- Wear pleated pants
You see, true chivalry was the fairy tale ending that every maiden of the medieval period wanted: the brawny knight armed and ready to save a damsel in distress from the perils of 1300’s anarchy (i.e. overzealous kings, sexually-confused dragons and whatever Heath Ledger killed at the end of ‘A Knights Tale’). Nowadays with the advent of the strong, independent woman, this definition has become antiquated to something much more romantic: a stubble-bound, collar-stayed gentleman with respect for women, pride in their abilities to care for themselves and support for their desire to be showered with affection. Unfortunately for men of the Medieval Times restaurant chain, dexterity in arms is now more of a reference to toned biceps than the ability to wield a lance. Now that we accept the latter definition as a bastardization of the first, let us move on to my second source of the offense-taken.
It’s because of this made up, pseudo-fantasized version of “chivalry” that women don’t have to do anything but be themselves throughout the duration of a courtship. Literally, men are held socially responsible for every step of the wooing process, from the introduction to the request for a date and beyond…so why do women feel the need to complain? If “chivalry” was actually the lifeless corpse women so often describe it to be, they would be forced to take matters into their own hands and the world would look like this:
…I honestly don’t feel the need to elaborate on this point. Moving on.
Finally, Ariel chose to overlook this man because of his less-than-stellar approach to an introduction, and this is fair, but to say that chivarly is dead is not, given that there exists no female complement to even the most modernized version of the word! What is the feminine equivalent of chivalrous, I ask you?! That’s right, there is none, because even though women chase men all the time, no one decided it was worth making a word for. To put this into perspective for you, here are some other words we did come up with and their definitions:
- Gastromancy (n.): telling fortune from the rumblings of a stomach
- Gardyloo (n.): a warning shouted before throwing water from above
- Gymnophoria (n.): the sensation that someone is mentally undressing you
We made these words…yet no one could take three minutes to make one for a nice girl that can sit through a football game and pick up her half of the tab once in a while? These girls exist and are probably more abundant than guys who know how to properly operate a sword, but until someone lays it down in the dictionary I can’t just sit back and watch my gender get chastised for not being more like the only ambiguously gay knight at King Arthur’s round table.
As you can imagine, this topic ended up being a constant source of debate throughout the remainder of the weekend, and though we agreed on some points and disagreed on others, there was only one statement that received unanimous accord: “Hey…are you on Twitter” could never be seen as chivalrous, even if somehow tweeted at you by an actual medieval knight.
Until next time…
Adoxography (n): skilled writing on an unimportant subject,