I’ve heard it said before that chivalry is dead. I think this is a blatant untruth. Chivalry is not dead, not by a longshot.
It has, however, been replaced.
More about that later.
Chivalry, as defined by Dictionary.com is:
the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.
the rules and customs of medieval knighthood.
the medieval system or institution of knighthood.
a group of knights.
gallant warriors or gentlemen: fair ladies and noble chivalry.
Now days we have to go all the way to number 5 for a fitting definition on the word. Although, in a pinch, I’m guessing that number one could be adapted as well. Still, there has not been much call for Knights and their kind for the past five or six hundred years or so. Gunpowder seemingly took care of that.
It is a sexist word. After all, there just were not that many female Knights and I suspect, with the notable exception of a gal named Joan, the ones that were around were not very good. So, with a profession overwhelmingly dominated by men, I think that it is probably sexist but understandably so.
Now I get that Knights were supposed to be all that. They were the elite, the strong, the powerful. The Navy SEALs of their day. I think we probably give them a bit more credit for being on the side of good, from a nostalgic point of view. The Crusades come to mind as instances where Knights, in hindsight, behaved rather poorly. Of course, it can be argued, they were only doing the bidding of a higher authority (and no, I don’t mean God!).
As Knights became fewer and fewer, the definition of chivalry came more to describe the behavior of a true gentleman in relation to those of the fairer(?) sex. Risking life and limb, opening doors, putting ones jacket down on a mud puddle in order to keep her feet dry. So it wasn’t donning an inordinate amount of scrap metal and chain armor and doing battle with a dragon, but it did the trick. The ladies liked it, and so it went on for hundreds of years.
Now many have lamented that those days are gone, which may be a cliché in itself. They are not gone. They have been replaced, or adapted if you will, to a 21st century definition.
There is no longer an opportunity to open the door for a lady. At the supermarket and the mall, even the bank, the doors open automatically. Anyone who grew up watching repeats of Star Trek knew this day would come. The doors open for us, our computers talk to us, our cars start on their own and even the ovens clean themselves. Babies can come from test tubes, microwaves can cook more than just hot dogs, and books are now downloaded from your computer.
The one task we had left, that of protection, has been outsourced as well. Security companies guard our homes from intruders.
Finally, the ultimate act of defending and protecting the female, War, can now be fought using a drone from 5,000 miles away! The ultimate in surrogacy!
No, chivalry is NOT dead, not by a long shot. It has just been modernized, and in the process, man has been left out in the cold!