Chivalry is a Social Contract

So, I was listening to the radio a couple days ago and there was a typical male/female duo explaining how men need to “step-it-up” when it comes to “treating women with respect” and “being chivalrous.” And then we all nod our heads and say, “Yes, that sounds right.” Right? I’m not totally convinced. What if I was to say this: “If a man treats a woman with chivalry in this day-and-age it may actually REDUCE his chances of ‘success’?” That’s right. I put ‘success’ in single quotes. Why 4 I do this? Well, that’s another post, isn’t it?

Okay, so I will play this game. I will agree that men need to be more chivalrous if-and-only-if… the following: So, check it out. Romance and erotica novels are selling hand-over-fist right now. RIGHT NOW! In ebook, in hardcover, in softcover, in smoke-signal. So all I want is one tale featuring a mild-mannered dude who treats women with respect and is chivalrous. Just give me one, okay? Not two. Not three. Ah, women, so complicated. Asking for things that you don’t really want –> Waiter! Bring me a basket of sulfuric acid and be snappy about it, I’m thirsty!

Look, can I share a secret? Woman don’t really want equality in a relationship. They want dominance. Because if they could only control a man that dominates them, oh the possibilities!

So, I was going to write this post about something, wasn’t I? Oh yeah, chivalry is a social contract. It doesn’t really make any darn sense for men to do a bunch of stuff for women so that women will have sex with them. Come on, we know you like it too. Chivalry is supposed to be a social contract. A social contract has balance. You do something for us, we do something for you. If we pay for all the dinners, open all the doors, pull out all the chairs, fight off all the bullies, etcetera — we want something more than just sex!

We want laundry, cooking, cleaning, childcare — all the things that I’m a jerk for even mentioning in this post. Oh well. Now those things will be outsourced (in a half-assed, ineffectual manner) to people who don’t really care.

But, even if you wanted to give these things to us, you can’t. Technological machines do more-and-more of the cooking and cleaning. Technology entertains and parents the youth. The roles of the woman and the roles of the man have been replaced by steel and microchips. We’re being pushed, closer-and-closer, into one grey mush of a uni-gender. But the vestiges of gender roles remain in our stories – stoking the fires of desire for a hope of gender revival.

About davidwallacefleming

David Wallace Fleming is a U.S. writer, living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the coming-of-age, social media novel GROWING UP WIRED, and the satirical science fiction audiobook, NOT FROM CONCENTRATE.
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14 Responses to Chivalry is a Social Contract

  1. cav12 says:

    Interesting post, waiting for the powder keg to go off. Though, jokes aside I do like it when men open the door for me or pay for dinner, it makes you feel appreciated. That’s all.

  2. I think I’m going to take up your challenge and write a story about a mild-mannered dude…Perhaps I’ll call it Adventures of a Mild-Mannered Dude. But I have to say, there are some holes in your argument…

  3. Actually, I think that the term ‘chivalry’ seems to be misinterpreted. It is neither a manipulative tool one can use to get laid nor it is a ‘social contract’, it is a way of life and a certain attitude. Chivalrous people, both men and women, are individuals who have certain ways of doing things that do not change, no matter if they are in a relationship or not. For example, if I thank people for what they have done for me, I will not suddenly stop doing that because I’m married or have a partner, or have just had some causal sex… I think chivalry is about respecting people, having some manners, and also empathizing with people in different situations.

    • Hello, thanks for your comment. You got me curious so I looked up the word chivalry in a couple places online. I saw a definition for a “nightly code of conduct” and a “martial code of conduct,” “qualities of the ideal knight,” etc. Some words traditionally refer to men and this, in my opinion, is one of them.

      • Hello David! Yes, but don’t you think that being a knight was a way of living, an attitude? And, yes traditionally in a strict sense of it chivalry was connected to noble men, but that was centuries ago! Nowadays, it is just a term and may refer to people, men and women including…

  4. I can’t predict what the future of the term chivalry will be. Right now, when people say, “Chivalry is dead,” I don’t think that they mean, “a general sense of politeness amoung both men and women is equally dead.” They mean that men aren’t acting a certain way toward women.

    • Anonymous says:

      I do agree that perhaps we can’t predict the future of the term chivalry, but I do think people misuse the term and create confusion by applying it only when they speak about men and how they act towards women. … 4 years ago a Chivas (a whiskey brand) launched an award for chivalry – read this – the article speaks the true sense and meaning of chivalry term :-)

      • I read the article from Chivas-Regal. I believe they have confused the issue of the word chivalry. A lot of times ad copy from big companies has to be written as gender neutral. This might be what had happened in this article. To describe a woman as chivalrous would not be a good word choice in my view. It may even cause confusion for an audience in the US. I have never before heard a woman actually described as being chivalrous. Polite and considerate, yes.

  5. PS sorry my previous note shows as anonymous :-) BTW Victor Hastings in your novel is very chivalrous :-) :-) 😉

    • That’s okay. I knew it was you and have replied to that comment as well.

      • A fascinating cultural difference between the USA and Europe. It is unlikely that they confused the issue on purpose, but I know what you mean about gender neutral approach. I also do agree that maybe in a strict sense of it to call a woman chivalrous would not be right, but I think they talk about chivalry as an attitude towards life in general rather than a man’s behaviour towards a woman in particular. In any case I find the whole cross cultural difference on this subject very interesting :-).

        What do you think of Victor, was he chivalrous in your opinion?

  6. The only thing close to a chivalrous deed, performed by Victor, in my opinion, was when he stuck up for their house mother, Ma Red. My understanding of chivalry, over here in Texas and the States, is that it’s very much a code of conduct of how a man acts toward a woman. And, there are a few customs (mostly contentious) like paying for meals, opening doors, walking closest to the street traffic, defending a woman’s honor, pulling out chairs, standing up when a woman walks into a room – most of these things are occasionally appreciated but sometimes resented by women. I don’t think I gave Victor Hastings much opportunity to be chivalrous in Growing up Wired.

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