Thursday, April 12, 2012

Does chivalry matter?

Emily Stimpson does a wonderful job articulating the good of chivalry in her recent post, "Ryan Gosling, Manly Men, and the Witness of Chivalry." It's a good read.

Now, is there any guarantee that a man who opens car doors for a woman won’t use his strength to overpower or insult her? Hardly. Likewise, will letting a man open those doors automatically prevent a woman from being shrewish and selfish? Most definitely not.

But that doesn’t mean those gestures don’t help some. Nor does it mean they aren’t good in and of themselves. They are the embodied proclamation of the beauty of sexual complementarity and, when properly understood, help cultivate the virtues of humility, charity, and generosity. In more ways than one, chivalry puts the “civil” in civilization.

That’s why, whatever way you slice it, abandoning chivalry has made the world a more hostile place for women and a less human place for men. If we lived in a culture where men routinely gave up their seats on crowded subways (and women let them), I suspect fewer people in general would be spewing invectives online about people they’ve never met.

And the rest is here.

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