(2016 Clarity Edit)
Far flung are we from a time of medieval valour and virtues. Forget the kind words and good will, it’s all ‘fuck you’ and ‘fuck off’ in 2012. And that’s just to get started. Though if you spend a significant slice of your time amongst anonymous commentators on the internet, you’ll soon discover that White Knight’s in shining armour are indeed still alive… if only in spirit and mostly to troll… but I digress.
We’ve since shed the metal armour in a literal sense, though those original medieval notions of morality, honour and a readiness to help each other have somehow hung on through the ravages of time, and are still mostly expected by society today. Well, I like to think I’m ‘keeping the dream alive’ at any rate.
According to Google, chivalrous knights were expected to adhere to and be all of the previously mentioned qualities, with loyalty to a deity probably at the top of the list. While our loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II is essentially non-existent, save for her face on our currency, the rest of those knightly qualities are not unreasonable – even today. All in in all, knights were meant to be strong, honourable people willing to serve others.
“But what does it all mean Basil?” you might be asking, if you were Austin Powers. I wonder if our ancestors could have imagined a world where everyone would apparently be equal. No race, colour or creed withstanding. Apparently.
To me in 2012, exercising chivalry isn’t without it’s problems. Medievally speaking (if that is even a word), being chivalrous basically breaks the notion of everyone being equal immediately. By implying that you’re below them. A servant. And if you’re selfish bastard in 2012 (as many people are), opening the door for a woman (!) is clearly not something you are interested in executing.
The issue is rooted much deeper than that however. Just think about your attitude when you talk to someone on a phone helpline or when someone serves you in a store. Although service people receive currency in order to serve you (to serve = honourable?), the people being served often think they are better than the server by default. Even if they themselves have a fucking boss; they often forget they are serving someone else too.
Like plankton is to a whale that hasn’t crossed into the North Pacific Ocean yet, somebody is the bitch somewhere and at sometime.
In this day and age, conventional chivalry has been overtaken by selfishness and a general distrust in others. The more contemporary chivalry in 2012 involves a man being kind to a woman. Whether it be opening doors for her, taking her jacket or pulling out a chair. Once again, this breaks the equality that women have fought for over many years. Forgetting that minor plot hole however, women are very smart and conniving (I mean this entirely in appreciation). While for many many years, females were perceived as lower in some kind of a hang-on from our jungle dwelling years, slowly but surely they have turned the tables!
Remember that fat kid jumping on the other end of your see-saw as a child, flinging you at terminal velocity toward a nearby swing-set? Women figured out how to make themselves the better sex by pushing the pedestal next to the see-saw and getting the fat kid to sit there for them while they climb up. Don’t get me wrong – I’m the first to hold the door open for anyone. Even a stranger. I just think it’s been brilliant manoeuvring and should be marvelled at. Women are strong as fuck.
Chivalry now is a Cold War of gender equality. It’s all hush hush, but everybody knows what the score is. And I’m right there holding the door open.
Whether you know someone or not, chivalry shouldn’t be an afterthought. If I could count the number of times I’ve looked after people negotiating doorways or that one time where I helped a mum carry her pram down a flight of stairs in London, I’d have at least a few dollars – but I don’t do it for money. I do it because it’s right.
It’s that notion of gender weakness from yesteryear that female folk have managed to harness and turn against us males in the Chivalry Cold War. As men, we do these things for ladies because we feel honourable for assisting at no gain – but do we only assist because we perceive our female friends as being too weak to hang the coat on the coat rack? Being plankton is just the trick isn’t it.
Let’s just forget the few times where the table spun too far in the wrong direction, and I wasn’t acknowledged at all for my chivalrous actions towards strangers – though any lack of even a token ‘thanks’ just comes down to manners.
Anyway, just as long as we all keep the detente (as simply explained by Sir Roger Moore in popular James Bond 007 film “For Your Eyes Only” – “That’s detente comrade. You don’t have it, I don’t have it.”), I think everybody will get along just fine. Just keep on holding those doors open and taking those jackets.
Because one things for certain, I’m fucking scared to find out what’ll happen if I stop.