Is chivalry dead? Do we even know what the meaning of chivalry is anymore?
One definition of the word: courteous behavior, especially towards women.
I really like this particular definition. I enjoy someone opening the door for me, pulling out a chair or giving up a seat. I truly see nothing wrong with the idea of “ladies first”. However, I recently learned that I am a dying breed. Not among the young hipster population, but among women my own age.
This all started when I was out with my two youngest children, my son who is almost five and my daughter who’s almost four. We were getting ice cream on a hot afternoon and when the lovely young lady behind the counter passed over a cone, I said to my son, “ladies first” and made him give it to his sister. Here I am, thinking that I am teaching my fine young lad to be a good man, as per the definition; courteous to everyone, especially women.
That’s when it happened. The woman behind me piped up and said, “Oh my! Are we still teaching that?”. When I turned around to look — my eyebrows slightly singed from her burning bra — I managed to muster a resounding, “I don’t know about the WE but I sure as hell am.” Then it happened again! I was trapped, with two toddlers, melting ice cream and Joan of Arc is here, giving me the “women need to be the same as men” speech. Serenity now!
Since when is it wrong to teach my sons to be chivalrous? Apparently in our fight for equality, we have forgotten that it’s okay to be treated like a lady and a little special.
Enjoying the fact that someone opens doors for me, or gives up their seat for me does not make me weak or any less of a woman. It makes me thankful to that kind person. I let them know they have a good mama who raised them right. I see no gender lines here; it’s about treating everyone with respect. I am teaching my sons to respect women, just like I am teaching my daughters to respect men — it goes both ways. The ultimate goal is to teach our children to have respect for themselves, but I firmly believe this all goes hand in hand.
What did I say to my outspoken, half-charred Joan of Arc?
I told her that under no circumstances would I ever teach my daughters to be the same as men. That I believe in teaching them to be the best possible person they can be. If teaching my son to have respect for people and women is not right, or out of date, then I am happily wrong and old-fashioned. Teaching my children to have empathy and respect for people, regardless of gender, status race or creed, is my only true mission as a parent.
And I told her to go buy a new bra.
Dee Brun is the award-winning author of Libations of Life: A Girl’s Guide to Life One Cocktail at a Time, a cocktail chef and stylist, TV personality, home entertaining guru, writer, humorist, wife, mother of 4, TV Junkie, shoe-aholic, and borderline George Clooney stalker. Read her column, Isn’t it Deelightful, every Friday on Slice.ca.