in defense of chivalry {part 2} / a discourse on gentlemanliness

i found this old essay on my thumbdrive the other day, which is what inspired me to write “in defense of chivalry {part 1}”, but i thought i’d preface it with some thoughts on chivalry (my post yesterday) before getting to the actual gentleman substance.

i wrote this essay for my ap english class as a junior in high school. we had to write seven essays, each in a specific form, about one topic. i chose to write my seven essays on romance (big surprise there!). it was probably one of the most fun essay-writing projects i’ve had, actually. you can bet my tough, football coach english teacher loved reading those essays!

anyway, i’ve cut little bits and pieces and changed some words here and there, but the gist of the essay is the same. also, this is entirely personal opinion! i am very strongly opinionated when it comes to gentlemen. keep in mind that this is just my definition of what a true gentleman is,  so just bear with me, and i would love to hear your definition too!

without further ado, “a discourse on gentlemen”…..

you read about them in books and see them in movies. they’re the perfect, the ideal, the sought-after. they’re gentlemen.  there are lots of decent guys in the world, but what sets apart the true gentlemen from the rest of the male world?

first and foremost, gentlemen always, always, always hold open doors. proper door-opening is quite specific. it can’t be simply propping the door open with your arm as he walks through ahead of you. oh no! the true gentleman remains outside and stands, holding the door wide open from the side, as the lady walks through. the gentleman does this not just because he’s obligated to, but because he truly wants the lady to be able to walk easily inside.

also in the category of doors would be car doors. a true gentleman opens the car door for his lady so she can easily step into the car. when it comes time for her to exit the car, the truest of gentlemen will not allow a lady to exit without him walking around to her side and opening the door for her. if he fails to do this, but at least opens it for her to enter, he can still be considered a gentleman. again, he opens the car door for her not just due to obligation, but because he truly cares about the lady exiting or entering the car as comfortably as possible.

a gentleman treats every girl like a lady. he can most certainly have one special lady in particular, but he treats every girl he meets with courtesy, kindness, and respect. he offers his coat to any lady that appears to be chilly. it does not matter the appearance of the lady or her relationship with the gentleman. he always offers.

a gentleman doesn’t corrupt his speech with the use of foul words. he speaks with dignity and chooses his words carefully. he speaks of all people, especially ladies, in fair, un-judgmental terms. he isn’t proud or stuck-up in his mannerisms. he will carry on a decent conversation with any decent human being. he dresses with taste and class. he is, of course, allowed to dress casually, but should be accustomed to and comfortable with dressing nicer at times.

when a gentleman is on a date, he treats his date like a princess. he makes sure she doesn’t want for anything; food, water, a chair…anything. he is at her beck and call. on a date, she is his foremost concern. he compliments her. this, in and of itself, is hugely important. too few guys these days pay girls real, heartfelt compliments.

the scarcity of true gentlemen in our world is astonishing. whatever happened to chivalry and knights in shining armor? the image and presence of gentlemen in our world needs to be restored before the young men in our midst become entirely harsh, stuck-up, and selfish. i have the privilege of knowing a select few gentlemen, and i’m grateful for the standard they’ve set in my mind of how guys should act.

long live the gentleman! may he and his kind never, ever die off!

leave a comment of YOUR definition of a gentleman! am I being too strict? or is there more to add? are gentlemen really that important in our world? 


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5 thoughts on “in defense of chivalry {part 2} / a discourse on gentlemanliness

  1. I think the picture you paint of a true gentleman is very nice and I doubt there are a handful out there in this dynamic time of ours. I think many have the potential to become gentlemen but don’t really know they have it or how to become one as such role models are uncommon these days. Everything nowadays is about looks, being fast paced and playing games or communicating in sometimes incomprehensible social codes.

    I think a true gentleman is someone who’s true from the inside, both to himself and to the people around him. He’s someone who genuinely respects women, and tries to show it. One should not expect perfection and give room for one or the other mishap. If a guy who was brought up in a certain way or in an area which resulted in him not learning proper language use from an early age, or if he never had any proper role models around him, but still deep within has humble thoughts and respects women… well then he’s a gentleman to me :).

    Great series of posts by the way! You wrote about something that’s unfortunately falling out of the memory of many.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and reading! :) I love your picture of a gentleman! You’re definitely right – perfection shouldn’t be expected and mishaps are okay if the intentions are golden. Thank you for the thoughts!

  2. *sighs* I’m afraid chivalry is one of the casualties of this fast-paced, me-first world. I think it was also something that was unfortunately linked to and confused with chauvinism, which shouldn’t have happened because they are very different things. I know many people would say that there is a fine line. I would put chivalry– however one defines it– into the category of manners, the same reasons we say “please” and “thank you” and “may I”. I would put chauvinism under oppressive beliefs, narcissistic sense of superiority, male insecurity, passive aggression and discrimination with no basis. :) I am a feminist, the kind who believes that every person in the world deserves to be treated equally and with NO preconceived notions of what “their place in the world” or “their role” or “their work” is. There is NO such thing as “women’s work” or “men’s work”. It’s all just work and has to be done, and preference. To me, chivalry is just one way of giving and receiving love, the basis of all kindness, and it can be shown by both sexes, not just males.

    1. thank you so much for your input! i love that the root of your definition of chivalry is kindness. and it is sad that chivalry has become a casualty of our world, isn’t it? thank you for reading and commenting – i really enjoy hearing about how others feel about debatable subjects that are largely open to interpretation, such as chivalry.

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