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We’re all aware of the great debate over chivalry in this day and age. We shake our heads at men who race women for open seats on the train. We suck our teeth at those who allow doors to slam in a woman’s face as they flounce in them. And on the opposite side of the spectrum, people say this lack of so-called “chivalry” is the result of women being feminists and saying they want to be treated equally, and that we should all just be kind and helpful to one another, no matter gender.

And blah, blah, blah…

But as a a woman, if you can’t get some good old-fashioned chivalry from a stranger on the street, you at least hope you’ll receive it from your suitor, right?

Well, some of us aren’t so lucky. Like the co-worker my best friend was telling me about, who complains because her boyfriend of a few months doesn’t really uphold the chivalrous behavior she’s used to seeing from the men in her life. Her father, brothers, former boyfriends.

He pays for dinner when they go out, and that’s nice. But, she laments that her suitor fails to open doors for her. Which doors exactly? All of them: car doors, the doors to establishments, even the door to his place. According to my BFF’s colleague, he’ll open the door, and then walk right through it. There’s no standing closest to traffic for him when they walk the streets, helping her with heavy groceries and things of that nature. It’s a cold world for the chick.

But the straw that almost broke the camel’s back for this young woman was when the pair went kayaking together, and another man was disrespectful to her. Her boyfriend didn’t do anything about it. In fact, he, in turn, scolded her.

When they were kayaking they somehow ended up running into an area that had been roped off (with lines) for those who were fishing. When their boat entered the area, a few of the men yelled at the pair for their intrusion, telling them to back up and move away. Her boyfriend, who was steering the kayak at the back, proceeded to back them away while she fussed at one of the men for yelling. They had an unpleasant exchange and as the couple got further away from the fishermen, her boyfriend asked in a stern voice, “Why do you always have to say something?” She was pissed and told him the guys were being disrespectful, but he just reminded her that they were in the fishermen’s area, and it was a mistake they should have just tried to rectify and move on. No need for the “drama.”

She would go on to tell my best friend that she felt like he allowed her to be disrespected by the men. In chivalry terms, homeboy didn’t defend her honor.

His lack of chivalry was annoying at first, but after that incident, it was just hurtful to the co-worker.

But is she overreacting?

I personally don’t think so. It kind of says a lot about the guy (not during the kayak situation though–he may have been trying to avoid a squabble with multiple men). Especially since he isn’t really trying to do the basic chivalrous things during the courting phase. And I’m not talking about the archaic sh-t meant to make a woman feel like she’s incapable of doing stuff on her own lest she break her dainty hands or faint. But just the basics that make a woman feel special. And as I’ve always said, in the beginning, it’s important to do these things. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying it’s okay if these actions come to a halt as the relationship develops, but in the very beginning, it sets the tone. And if the tone isn’t a pleasant one, things won’t go far.

The co-worker should probably let him know how she’s feeling if she hasn’t already in the hopes that he will make some adjustments. Maybe a chair pull here, a kiss on the hand there (if that’s what she likes, of course). But if not, and his lack of appreciation for that old-school code is something she just can’t get past, then she should open the door for herself–and leave…

But as always, that’s just my opinion. Is she petty for being upset that he’s not the chivalrous type? 

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