Chivalry’s not dead, it’s just been on vacation.
Part of the reason is that chivalry has gotten a bad rap and even been confused with “toxic masculinity.”
This is so wrong!
I want to correct the record and go through rules of chivalry that are still important and applicable to modern life.
You may think you have an idea of what chivalry is, and you might:
But chivalry is far more than just opening a door for a lady or being polite:
If you want to know about chivalry, you’ve got to learn the rules.
1) Be a real man
The first rule of chivalry is to be a real man.
These days, saying something like “be a real man” can be quite controversial.
We have psychologists and sociologists constantly picking apart the meaning of gender and gender roles, or claiming that ideals of masculinity are “toxic.”
Nothing could be further from the truth.
True masculinity and “toxic masculinity” are worlds apart, and chivalry is entirely built around a positive ideal and principle of manhood.
Whereas toxic masculinity is aggressive and ignorant, true masculinity is strong and conscientious…
Whereas toxic masculinity brags and shows off to women, true masculinity is modest and protects women without any ulterior motives…
This is the core of chivalry:
The mission of reclaiming and championing a positive ideal of masculinity.
All the other rules of chivalry stem from holding and practicing an idealized masculine role.
As the IFCN (International Fellowship of Chivalry-Now) writes:
“A lot of men cling to incomplete or even negative images of what it means to be a man.
“A number of social problems stem from this, from deadbeat dads to spousal abuse to alcohol addiction.”
By contrast, chivalry calls on men to hew to a higher noble ideal of manhood.
“Chivalry spells out certain ethical standards that foster the development of manhood.
“Men are called to be: truthful, loyal, courteous to others, helpmates to women, supporters of justice, and defenders of the weak.”
Now let’s go through the rules.
The second rule of chivalry is to be truthful.
It’s easy to be truthful about small matters, but chivalry includes honesty even when it’s hard.
If the cashier gives you five dollars extra back in change and you notice it later, you return to the store and give it back.
Nobody would ever know if you didn’t, but you do it anyway.
If you make a mistake at work and wreck a pending deal, you fess up to your boss.
You could easily shrug off responsibility, but you don’t.
If you tell your son that you’ll come pick him up from school, then you do your best to show up even if last minute things come up!
These are the key ingredients of truthfulness:
Meaning what you say, doing what you say, and being accurate in what you say.
When you make a deal or a promise, you keep it.
When you make a mistake, you own up to it.
When you talk to someone or recount an event, you do so as accurately as possible.
You’re honest and you follow through as much as possible.
The third rule of chivalry is to be loyal.
We live in a world where alliances come and go.
One day you’re partnering up in a business project, the next you’ve sold out your share and are shorting the stock.
But the chivalric man doesn’t engage in backstabbing and side-switching.
He stays loyal.
Like anyone, the chivalric man has his falling outs and breakups. He may leave a relationship or a business partnership.
But he doesn’t backstab and do sneaky, duplicitous things.
If he looks you in the eye and says it’s a deal, it’s a done deal until and unless he says otherwise.
The chivalrous man stays loyal to his friends…
He stays loyal to the woman he commits to…
He stays loyal to his business and his business partners.
He doesn’t break agreements without a good reason.
The chivalric man is one you can count on.
The fourth rule of chivalry is to be courteous.
This can definitely include opening car doors and the entrance to a store for others!
It can also mean helping clean up the dishes after being invited over for a meal, or throwing away the empty popcorn bags and cans after having snacks with a date at the movie theater.
Courtesy can come up in so many situations that the contexts are almost endless.
It might even be something like not smoking in close proximity to non-smokers, or refraining from having more than one drink when out with a date so you don’t become potentially obnoxious or act irresponsibly.
Chivalry is ultimately about self-control and considerateness for others, which is why courtesy plays a key role.
Courtesy doesn’t take much, but it makes a big difference.
That’s because it’s become so rare!
The courteous man understands that it’s his small actions of consideration and thoughtfulness that make all the difference in the lives of those around him.
The fifth rule of chivalry is to be helpful to women.
This includes in above examples like opening doors, but it also extends to every kind of situation such as yielding up your seat on the bus for a woman to sit down.
It’s especially in regard to women who may be pregnant, experiencing an injury or need assistance of some kind.
This kind of helpfulness to women has taken a lot of heat from feminists and gender equality advocates who say that it is patronizing or condescending.
If you find that you are helping women out of a patronizing feeling of being better than them, please stop immediately.
Chivalry is not about being “better” than women and it’s never been about that.
It’s actually pretty close to the opposite.
Male chivalry is about honoring women more and respecting women more.
To the extent that it idealizes women or pictures femininity as softer and more deserving of guarding and protection, chivalry is a beautiful thing.
Trying to erase the male instinct to protect and defend women is sick and twisted, and the social engineers who want to cast male chivalry toward women as “condescending” are deviously, cynically misguided.
They are trying to deconstruct one of the fundamental gender relations that has kept every society healthy for millennia.
The real danger of male chivalry toward women isn’t that it’s condescending or patronizing, it’s actually that it sometimes goes too far into white knight syndrome and idealizing and standing up for some women who simply don’t deserve it.
The sixth rule of chivalry is to stand up for what’s right.
Being just can be difficult in a world that’s all about expediency and moral relativism.
Indeed, there are obvious times when having too much integrity can hold you back.
Regardless, the chivalric individual is just as much as possible.
He stands up for what is right and abides by the rules whenever possible.
At times, justice may require breaking the rules.
The true modern knight understands this and embraces this.
A chivalric cop, for example, isn’t going to go along with letting a known criminal get away under a technicality of the law.
If he knows someone is guilty but also saw his colleague improperly seize evidence before having a warrant and he knows that the case will be thrown out if he admits to that.
He’s not going to admit it.
Justice comes above all else. Period.
The seventh rule of chivalry is to be brave in defending the innocent and weak.
We live in a world where admitting to weakness is seen as shameful or wrong.
But weakness is just part of life in both a literal and figurative sense.
I’m (probably) weaker than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
An accountant down the road is undoubtedly stronger than me mentally at doing addition and subtraction and understanding taxes.
I am weak, literally and figuratively, in these two examples.
A chivalric person would spring to the rescue of someone being beaten by a strong individual.
The chivalric man detests bullies.
He would also rush to aid somebody being defrauded by an accountant, for example, or a woman being lied to by a mechanic and taken for a ride due to her lack of knowledge.
The chivalric individual hates cheats, liars and bullies, and he’ll always stand up for those who are being targeted by them and help if he can.
Upholding the chivalric code
Upholding the chivalric code is a matter of choice.
Most aspects of chivalry are fully optional in today’s modern nations and might even be regarded as simply being “polite” by some.
But chivalry goes beyond being polite.
It comes from the world “chevalier” meaning a horse rider or knight in French.
Chivalry is, at heart, about embodying the strong and virtuous ideals of manhood.
If that strikes a chord within you, give it a try.
If not, feel free to disregard the rules of chivalry and watch how the world continues to progress towards a less-than-stellar destination.
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