In the past, if a man saw a girl or woman standing up on a bus, he would have give up his seat. If he saw her carrying lots of heavy groceries, he would immediately take them from her and put them in her car. Men would open doors, pull out chairs and always abide by the rule “ladies first.”
Those acts of kindness and many of the like are known as “chivalry,” which is defined as the act of exercising or exhibiting any form of gallantry, courtliness, politeness, courtesy, good manners, or loyalty. It is when men hold doors open until the women walk through. Or be the last one on and off the elevators in favor of the women who are also there.
Nowadays, many feel that such acts are not practiced as much as in the past, if at all, especially here at Florida A&M University. Many feel that it has gotten worse.
“I’ve had guys slam doors in my face and not think twice about it,” said Miranda Edwards, a fourth-year co-op business student from St. Petersburg.
Some students said they feel chivalry starts from a young age and that parents do not stress it enough.
They feel as if mothers and fathers should be able to teach their children these social courtesies because the father has dealt with women throughout his life and the mother knows how a woman should be treated.
“This day in age, parents don’t really teach it because parents are so young these days, they’re probably still learning it themselves,” said Jay Collins, a second-year business student from Philadelphia.
Some students also feel parents are becoming less and less involved in their children’s social development, and they rely on schools to teach children. Others said parents, more often than not, raise their daughters to be independent and that they don’t need anything from the opposite sex.
“Women these days are so independent that we don’t really need it (chivalry),” said Sherika Tisby, a fourth-year English student from Jacksonville.
Some women feel as if men know that chivalry goes well with the ladies and they do it just to make a good impression, not because it is the right thing to do. Many women feel chivalry should continue, no matter how old a man gets.
Sometimes chivalry can be taken advantage of; some men at FAMU feel women take their chivalry for granted.
Collins said men are unappreciated and do not get enough credit for going out of their way to open doors. And he is not the only one.
“I opened a door for a group of girls the other day. None of them tried to grab the door so I wouldn’t have to hold it anymore, and I got not one ‘thank you’,” said Aaron Drake, a second-year political science student from Philadelphia.
Seward Hamilton, a psychology professor, said he feels that a thank you is not needed just to do something courteous for another human being, and that it all boils down to self respect and values.
“If I didn’t know better I would think that I was on a regular street corner rather than a University the way people conduct themselves here,” Hamilton said.
But it doesn’t make a difference to most male students here.
“If I feel like it, I might open a door for a girl but do not expect it,” said Jared Owens, a second-year business student from Syracuse, N.Y.
Some men do feel chivalry is very important and is still shown by many men on campus.
“Chivalry has been missing from the black culture for some time now, and the black nation won’t begin to get it back until they realize it’s lost,” said Roscoe McNealy, a math professor and associate department chairman.
McNealy said he is shocked at how men these days don’t make more of an effort to be more respectful.
“I see a young, 70-pound ladies trying to carry big desk into my class because there are no seats and the guys just look at them do it.”
On the other hand, there are some women who feel that men do make efforts to open doors or to be conscious of it but are sometimes influenced by other men not to, for fear of looking soft or less of a man.
Huberta Jackson-Lowman, a psychology professor, said she feels chivalry is shown occasionally and it’s refreshing when she sees it.
“The Women’s Liberation Movement caused a lot of confusion in terms of chivalry,” Jackson-Lowman said.
“It’s needed because of misogyny, and should be displayed by both sides.”
Many men and women said they feel the opposite sex should make more of an effort to show it and appreciate it because, though no one really needs it, they feel that it could “open the door” to chivalry for generations to come.
Contact Arize Ifejika at firstname.lastname@example.org.