Chivalry may seem like a misogynistic relic of a bygone era. But I say that it is not. In this day and age it is grossly misunderstood.
Long ago, in medieval times, the horse was a symbol of wealth, prestige and power. It was also the most devastating possible weapon of war of that time.
A man with a horse could very well get away with whatever he liked, confident in his political, economic and martial power. Such a heady combination leads easily to a bully or a tyrant.
Responsible men, recognizing both the reality of the danger and the fear of the potential victims, decided on a course of action.
As men who could wield power and violence, they recognized a need for a code of conduct. They named this code of conduct Chivalry, using the French word 'cheval' which means 'horse.'
Chivalry demanded two fundamental things. First, that aid should be given to those who were oppressed or attacked by those more powerful than they.
Second, that the men who wielded their power according to the code of Chivalry should conduct themselves with courtesy, gentleness and kindness to those who had cause to fear them.
Times have changed since then, but the two fundamental demands of Chivalry still stand.
I may not have a horse, but as a man I am significantly larger and stronger than the vast majority of women.
I also acknowledge that women have more than ample reason to fear violence or oppression from a man. This goes for many people besides women, including children, the elderly and the disabled.
This leads to the two points of Chivalry.
1. I choose to oppose those who would do harm to others who cannot adequately defend themselves, and lend my aid to those who require it.
2. I choose to conduct myself towards those who could have reason to fear me with kindness, gentleness and respect. That manifests in many ways. I may open a door with a smile.
I may move slowly and give you a wide berth. I may stop and wait for you to get farther ahead if I happen to be walking behind you.
Some think that Chivalry is demeaning to women, that I behave this way because I don't consider women equal or capable. NO! It isn't about you at all.
I mean, seriously, who can honestly think that a woman can't open a door for herself? That's just too ridiculous for words. It isn't about you at all.
Its a reflection of who I am, and who I choose to be. I choose to be courteous. I choose to kind. I choose to be Chivalrous.