She’s not afraid to be alone and she's not the victim of anything. She pays her bills, maintains her appearance, works hard, she's financially stable and has her own mind. Unfortunately for independent women, the traits that make us successful and resilient in our careers, businesses, classrooms and personal lives can actually work against us when it comes to attracting a man. In my experience many will write of the independent woman up front and say she is “unapproachable” before even attempting to approach.
Dictionary.com defines chivalry as the methods of training and standards of behavior for knights in the Middle Ages. The code of chivalry emphasized bravery, military skill, generosity in victory, piety, and courtesy to women. UrbanDictionary.com defines it as something women complain (chivalry) is dead even though it cannot logically exist in an equal society, which is something women wanted. A few subliminal jabs… but you get the point.
I begin with these definitions to tryand prompt a productive discussion and attempt to offer a more loving yet practical perspective from both sides. When people use the phrase “chivalry is dead” in 2017 most our referring to the concept of chivalry as it relates to courtship or the idea that men no longer do the nice and thoughtful things they once used to in order to attract a lady in the early stages of a relationship. A few cliché examples include opening doors, pulling out chairs, gifts, and inviting women out on dates, etc.
An “Independent” may be who she is when you meet her, but not who she ultimately wants to be. Women appreciate help with practical things (in addition to money) like taking out the trash, filling the gas tank, lifting or moving heavy objects, bringing groceries in the house, etc.
Most women desire partnerships. And further to that, perhaps our example "she" feels her greatest potential and levels of fulfillment can only be reached in a partnership. Ladies, at the appropriate time, can and should make it clear that even though they are independent they still value relationships and will settle down with the right person. Women shouldn’t be too quick to disregard a person with good intentions that wants to be with them, for them. And, fellas even if your single friend has a maid, butler, best friend, or whoever, still offer to help her! I’ll call it “modern chivalry”. The load of a self-sufficient woman is a lot to carry.
It’s important to pause here and understand many of us are in a fight against systems. Systematic issues run rampant especially for communities of color and those who are viewed as the minority. Until these things are dealt with in an honest way, I believe at times systematic issues are the root of problems we have relating to one another. From the root stems other problems and until we deal with the root, the smaller related issues will persist. Our expectations also need to adjust accordingly with regards to modern gender roles. It’s more about doing what works for us and less what is expected of us. Roles will look different for every couple and traditional gender roles are obviously now a bit antiquated.
The challenge for the single woman will be to shift and adjust into the new role of partner, without giving up the freedoms earned during the extended time of singleness. Focus on the gains. Instead of a being labeled a single woman which implicates some kind of social failure, you are now becoming a queen or wife. In that process of opening your mind and heart, you are also gaining a friend, a support system, a companion and may even find that goals can be reached quicker with two. The right relationship should never feel like entrapment or the end of your empire. If it does, it’s probably not the right relationship. Leave that person but whatever you do, we should be careful not to go too far and let one person or experience take up more space in our lives and minds than what is healthy.
The concepts of modern chivalry and courtship should never be abandoned. Especially while we live in a time where companionship, understanding, kindness and courtesy are needed more than ever before. As long as there is love and it continues to be expressed “chivalry” will never be dead.
by W. Hamer