Chivalry is for everyone

Now folks, I realize it is 2016. The fashions and strict gender role expectations of the 19th century American South are almost completely gone with the wind. Most of us can recognize that these are celebratory forms of modernization, but with Valentine’s Day and a journey into the Deep South this past weekend, I find myself questioning exactly how much chivalry should be dead. As a young lady in the 21st century, I get to participate in outdoorsy hunting, fishing and adventurous activities, and I am grateful that I am not expected to be dressed to the nines and acting a certain way every time a male is present. I hope to have a career in international business following my time as a student, and I plan on knowing, married or not married, that I have the skills and ability to create independent financial stability. I could not agree more with Scarlett O’Hara when she declares, “I won’t need you to rescue me. I can take care of myself, thank you,” but I also see the beauty in men and women creating a world where both genders alike offer a helping hand to one another.

I then thought about the notion that, while I do have dreams to conquer the international business world, I do not want to be judged for also feeling as if I was put on this earth to one day take care of a family. I think a lot of modern women would be able to relate to wanting men to support their endeavors, respect their thoughts and recognize their strengths, but also enjoying it when men hold the door, help them carry heavy things and lend them a jacket if they’re cold. Now I obviously do not speak for all modern women when I say that, and I do not wish to. I have merely stumbled across this interesting notion of exactly where the average modern man and average modern woman stand on the issue of chivalry being dead. I am interested in starting open-ended discussions with my friends, both guys and girls, about their opinions on the subject, and I encourage others to do so as well.

After contemplating my thoughts on gender roles and chivalry of the past and present, I have come to the conclusion that chivalry should not be dead. Chivalry should merely be adopted by both men and women in modern day. Both men and women ought to take on the responsibility of showing respect, valor and generosity, three words which are used to define “chivalry” on dictionary.com. Perhaps Scarlett O’Hara grabbed my envy not because she had a dainty appearance, but because she defied the weak expectations of women in her time with a strong head, determination and willingness to go against social norms. I am thankful for our society’s progress, and hope not to go back in time, but to encourage boys and girls alike to channel the independent attitude of Scarlett O’Hara when she says to her on-and-off-again love, “I don’t care what you expect or what they think,” while also recognizing that we all ought to be chivalrous.

Anna Scott Lovejoy is a sophomore majoring in general business and biology. Her column runs biweekly.

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