Chivalry lessons to learn from Jane Austen

Posted by Laura

That Jane Austen’s got a lot to answer for. There she was, just short of 200 years ago, penning her well-crafted tale of manners, courtship and love, completely unaware of the potent effect her words would have as the world ventured into the next millennium and beyond. Could she have known that the iPod-toting, mobile-dependent, skinny-jeans-clad generation of the early 21st century would still be hanging on to the sentiments of proud, tea-taking, bonnet-headed and befrocked Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice as if it were some form of romantic bible? If anything, Ms Austen’s literary power has grown over time, rather than diminished. The only thing is, the values and etiquette she depicts in her writing have not stood the test of time so well, leaving generations of men and women at odds with their expectations.

A fortnight ago, Pride and Prejudice was voted by people in Britain as their favourite read of all time. It was the hands-down number one among women readers and a very respectable sixth place among male readers. We just can’t get enough of Jane Austen, it seems. The current fanciful big-screen offering, Becoming Jane, based loosely on her life, shows that it’s not just the fictional Austen world the public is fascinated by, but our appetite extends to the real people, society and environment that inspired and shaped her writing.

When one of the homepage team selected Austen as her least favourite book on an entry to coincide with World Book Day earlier this month, the response was mixed. Some lamented her temerity for suggesting Austen’s work was anything short of a masterpiece, others questioned the relevancy of her 19th century thoughts and ideals on today’s society. One woman comments: “Why do we rave about books that are not of our time, that we can’t possibly relate to, are written in a strange language that seems to trivialise any real emotion and quite frankly are depressing?”

Maybe the lady has a point. What can people in Britain today really learn from a vicar’s daughter from the turn of the 19th century, who never married and was consigned to live with relatives throughout her life?

Quite a lot actually. Or, to put it a more accurate way, it is what society can learn from our unending obsession with the spinster and her brooding gents and forward-thinking heroines. A few years back, Mr Darcy came top in a BBC survey of fictional men women would like to date. Colin Firth and the Bridget Jones books no doubt had something to do with this, but I’d like to think it was largely to do with the fact that, despite modern life dictating otherwise, the spirit of romanticism is still alive and kicking today, just as it was in Austen’s era.

And that’s where the problems begin. And that’s why Jane, with your musings on etiquette and gentlemanliness and decorum, you’ve really caused some chaos – because there just aren’t enough Mr Darcys to go around. And nowhere is this more acutely felt than in London. I was on the Tube platform the other day, waiting to begin the daily toil that is getting to work, when the doors opened and commuters flooded out, the last being an elderly woman who was slow to alight. As I waited for her to get off I felt a shove in my back, dropped my bags to the floor and nearly took the poor woman out with me. I turned round to see not an impatient teenager too young to know better, but a well-dressed, middle-aged man glaring back at me. “Is there no chivalry in this world anymore?” I asked myself. “Can you HURRY UP and MOVE DOWN?” was the unknowing answer from Mr Haughty. It wouldn’t have happened in Jane’s day. Yes, I know there was no Tube then, but even if Mr. Darcy were alive now, you wouldn’t catch him barging old Mrs Bennett to the floor with his briefcase before asking Lizzie to get a shuffle on as they took their afternoon stroll because someone was messaging him on his Blackberry.

And the anti-chivalry malaise is spreading. I gave my seat up for a pregnant woman last week – only for another roguish male commuter to plonk his rear in it before she had the chance to gather her things. A friend of mine was recently subjected to an expletive-strewn tirade by a man for “not walking fast enough” down a train platform, despite carrying armfuls of bags. Time was, real gents would’ve offered to help you along the platform with your bags, instead of chiding you for not being strong enough to carry them at breakneck pace. They would open doors for you, not be secretly smug if they managed to sneak into the train carriage before they slammed in your face.

Perhaps, if Mr Darcy hadn’t become such a paragon of chivalry and true manliness, I would be none the wiser. Maybe if Jane’s social commentary of a time when manners were paramount hadn’t struck a chord with a nation renowned for its love of etiquette and reserve, I, and I’m sure many other women, would be willing to accept it. But he has, and it did. It’s time to want more. Yes, times have changed, and I’m not for one minute suggesting I’d rather sit indoors, do cross-stitch and practise piano while taking tea and making pleasant chit-chat with men in tight trousers and new romantic shirts. But I do think we can still learn from Jane Austen’s time. Men, there really is no harm done by stopping to look if a pregnant or elderly lady needs a seat on the train or bus more than you do, it’s always good to remember many women are built slighter than you and cannot carry their own weight in shopping (yes, bags of clothes are still heavy), and the world will not implode if you don’t win the quick-get-between-the-doors-before-they-slam-shut game.

I’m not saying some men aren’t chivalrous, just that modern living seems to have diverted attention from this pleasant and often-undervalued virtue. And, seeing as Jane Austen is even more popular now than ever, perhaps we could make chivalry fashionable once again. The latest phones, MP3 players and kit may make the modern man look uber-cool, but spending a little less time gazing at screens and a little more time trying to bring back a bit of courtesy into today’s world is the best style statement you can make. I’m sure Mr Darcy would be proud.

Is chivalry dead? Have you experienced gallant behaviour – or the lack of it – in your part of the world? Let us know your thoughts.

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100 Responses to Chivalry lessons to learn from Jane Austen

  1. Unknown says:

    Chivalry is dead – and, if it isn\’t, I\’d like to hammer the final nail into its coffin."Chivalry" is just a polite word for the system of the woman accepting the lower role – the person who passively accepts help because they can\’t cope – whilst the man takes the role of saviour, protector and defender. It\’s a system that flatters the man\’s self-image whilst denigrating the woman\’s. "Don\’t worry, love, you\’ll be fine… if you\’ve got a MAN to take care of you!" "Chivalry" encourages men to favour weak and passive women over the able and independent ones. It also makes men think that if a woman isn\’t behaving in the expected manner – weak, polite, grateful – then their own "chivalry" can go out of the window. When such chivalrous gents witness a scantily-clad woman who\’s falling-down drunk in the street at night, would they try to take advantage of her, or would they show their knightly nobility by paying for a taxi to get the poor sad specimen home? Quite a few men respond by taking advantage… and then blaming the woman\’s own incapacity afterwards. "You didn\’t behave like a storybook princess, love, so the deal\’s off." Some "deal", if the "chivalry" vanishes so easily!"Chivalry" encourages unscrupulous women to make themselves appear in need of "help" or "defence" from a "knight in shining armour" in order to get others to fight their battles for them. We\’ve all met the type who use their boyfriend/husband as a kind of pet Rottweiler, to "sic" on anyone who disagrees or argues with them. It\’s sad that the men are unaware of how they\’re being used, but the system which encourages such behaviour on the part of women really should be abolished.This is an age of sexual equality, so let\’s not use the term "chivalry" when what we mean is "common courtesy". Women can let elderly passengers take their seats, or hold the doors open for other people, as easily as men can.

  2. Unknown says:

    Chivalry lives on in a few of us . you just have to wear your heart on your sleeve and have broad shoulders.
    After many years i have found my maid marion and its hard work but well worth it.
    Women love a knight
    AND REMEMBER the round table guys Andrew you will win in the end and it will be worth it dude

  3. Unknown says:

    lil snow yoyu are absolutly spot on

  4. Chris says:

    I think the loss of chivalry is as a result of our current social ideals.
    The most important thing to every one today is money and material things. Chivalry was about honour and how you were perceived by others. This ideal is all but dead.
    Today is Capitalist ideals of competition, and women are as much part of that as anyone else. We are not a community any more but single animals fighting with every other individual to achieve financial supremacy. The problem is no one cares anymore how rude they appear as long as they have more money than the Jones\’ next door.
    For chivalry to return we need to change our ideals. Is financial superiority the pinacle of human existence? I have to say I find those who have raised a good family equally highly with those in high paid jobs but this is not the general perception. I have to say that the main culprits of this change in social outlook is women. I have heard on many occasions at parties and other social functions someone saying that they are a house wife and stay at home to look after a not unreasonably sized family. To my surprise it is the women who make comments such as she\’s lazy can\’t be bothered to go out to work.
    My suggestion is that if we valued the raising of a family (By a man or a woman) EQUALLY to having a career then you might find that chivalry and manners return as well as the welfare of our children being far better catered for.

  5. Russell says:

    It is fair to say that chivalry is indeed dead, more so as it is almost an unnecessary requirement in the modern age. Chivaly existed as we were far less direct in our approach towards women, and thus a chivalrous nature was a must if you were to marry the woman of your choice. A lot of people seem to be confusing chivalry with good manners and common decency, two things that I pride myself on as I was raised to believe these are qualities to be held above all others. I will always hold doors open for others, yet find that 90% of the time the woman will not even acknowledge it. I have, on occasion, commented on this (usually something to the effect of "Of course, you are most welcome") and this is often met with either a confused look, as though they are not remotely aware of what you are talking about, or failing that, an abusive remark. I was recently on a train, and noticed a woman struggling to get aboard with a pushchair, further down the carriage. There were 3 men within 4 feet of her, and she was actually asking for their help – and every last one of them ignored her, as did all the other people nearby. By the time I got to her (I had to get off the train at my end, and walk down the platform as people weren\’t prepared to move their luggage from the aisle) one of the wheels was stuck between the train and the platform itself. The woman was in a state of panic, the driver was shouting for her to hurry up, and one of the men who had so rudely ignored her was tutting under his breath at the hold-up. I helped dislodge the wheel, and lifted the chair onto the train. When I asked people to move and make room, again I was met by a round of tutting, and muttering. I responded in kind, informing those men around me that they were truly pathetic, and should feel embarrassed at themselves. I asked the woman which station she was going to, and told her that when we arrived I would help her off the train. I didn\’t do this for any personal gain, other than the great satisfaction of helping someone in need.
    There are people in this country who, rather unfortunately, see good manners as a class distinction, ie. only those of a higher station have manners, the further down the class strata you go, the less manners are of any relevance. This is a rather pathetic excuse for laziness, something that is worryingly endemic in British society. I was raised in a working-class household, by parents who were routinely discriminated against, but never once was that an issue. My parents always impressed upon me that the most important thing in life is not what you do, what you wear, or how much you spend, but how you carry yourself and how you treat others – and that is something I have carried with me. I am educated to a basic level, earn an average salary, and I am in my mid-twenties, and it appalls me to see men and women of my age group behaving in incredibly disrespectful fashion. People who are supposedly part of the \’elite\’ are those who are often the most disgustingly bad-mannered. The problem is not one of is chivalry dead, but one of what happened to respect? Since my late teens I have been very aware of a desire to live elsewhere, as this country is falling apart at the seams. When parents don\’t teach their children these basic things, simply because they "can\’t be bothered", it shows just how pathetic our \’culture\’ has become, and how low this nation has sunk. It is rare to encounter a child with respect for adults, and who behaves accordingly, but anyone can step outside and see countless children with no respect for anyone or anything. It is a vicious circle, perpetuated by the lazy ignorance of so many British people. To be so ashamed of my own country is a depressing thing. We live in a nation more obsessed with money and status than anything else: the \’haves\’ are getting richer and richer, the \’have-nots\’ are getting further away from what they see as the ideal lifestyle, which is developing a sense of resentment. The next time you see a child litter in the street, ask him or her to pick it up and I almost guarantee that the response (if it is not an abusive one) will be "Why should I?". There are large sections of British society that feel a sense of entitlement, as though their passport is a ticket to wealth, yet are not prepared to work for it. Further up the class-ladder, middle-class and upper-class children are frequently spoilt to the extent that they grow up with the same feelings, but these people actually get what they want, again, more often than not, without having to work for it. Those children who are raised to treat others well are often those who are treated badly for it; manners are seen as something \’soft\’. One of the most shameful aspects of this is that those people who are often the MOST respectful, decent, and well-mannered are those who have come to this country through immigration. I know many first, second, and third-generation immigrants, and they are all genuinely good people who, despite some vile treatment by \’British\’ people, are always prepared to give a second chance. They are more well-spoken than a lot of Brits, they display more class in a day than many will in a lifetime, and I am proud to know them, as it gives me some confidence that a truly multi-cultural Britain will be much more tolerant place.
    There are approximately 300,000 16-24 year-olds in this country who are not in education, training, or work. These are the next generation of "I can\’t be bothered" parents. I suggest to the blog writer, if you want chivalry (or respect), then get out of this country and find somewhere where these virtues are still important. Because right now, unless your wallet is bulging, or your diamonds are shining, then you aren\’t worth anything in modern Britain.
    Sorry for the overly-lengthy nature of this, it is something of a bugbear of mine!

  6. josa says:

    There is a common misconception evident here that confuses the concept of chivalry with that of courtesy and human decency. Austen, without a doubt, refers to all three in her novels yet it is the courteous aspect of society that many find fault with nowadays. Shopping along oxford street I encountered an elderly blind lady trying to cross the road to no avail. It did not take a certain gender to aid her but simply human decency to take the time to help.
    Chivalry on the other hand is by no means dead. Perhaps it\’s place has changed a little as women now strive to be equals to their male counterparts in the business world, yet in a social setting I do not know of any female who would knock a man for being chivalrous. No doubt what we want is a certain respect, attention to detail, our chairs pulled out, our doors opened, our bags carried for us. What we do not want is a man who takes charge in every aspect of our life. Nor do we want a push over who will stop at nothing to please us. There is definately a balance between manners and \’treating us mean\’ and that is the problem many males have with the concept of chivalry. They do not understand that, like Mr Darcy himself, a man must present himself to be both respectful and good mannered while at the same time being independant and self assured. Alongside Austens depiction of chivalry there is an intertwined notion of mystery and power and it is this that we crave. Nine times out of ten we want you to open the door for us. The remaining time we want to be assured that we are able to do it ourselves and that you won\’t always be at our beck and call. Balance, gentlemen, balance.

  7. Queen says:

    There may be some stupid women out there who believe that a man opening a door for them is offensive but I am not one of them so don\’t give up gentlemen,ladies still exist.
    I am very lucky,my man is Mr Darcy incarnate.He may not feel he looks very dashing but he is a true gent and it is much of why I am with him.I have been barged,yelled at and sworn at and treated badly by men in the past.General manners are something we should all show to one another and is much of the cause of the breakdown in society.I hold doors open for everyone regardless.
    Some would call my man old fashioned.I think he should be cloned!

  8. Chris says:

    Jo you seem to make the mistake of thinking men give a crap what women want. Do you go out of your way to act in a way that you thing men would like?
    I see women every time I go out for the evening being sick all down the street, being abusive, crude and generally disgusting. If you expect chivalry I\’m afraid we need the return of a bit of lady-like behaviour which I believe is miles further from that of Jane Austen\’s era than chivalry is today.
    It\’s a case of reciprical manners which, no one has anymore. I find it particularly annoying when I hear women moaning that men don\’t have the same manners as the use to while swearing, swigging beer and being as loud and abnoxious as they can.

  9. Spencer says:

    Feminism killed chivalry and feminity with it.

  10. Spencer says:

    I thought feminism prevailed because men were oppressive chauvenistic brutes who needed to be undermined and disempowered. Odd how much women now claim to miss those days of passion and romance. I wonder who they are blaming now? Oh yes, men. Who else?

  11. Spencer says:

    Show me a lady today in 2007 below the age of 60 and I\’ll be glad to be a gentleman for her. It\’s not that I don\’t know how, I just don\’t dare. I don\’t pet rottweilers either.

  12. Rachel says:

    I\’ve been travelling on the bus with my baby son to Work and I have had quite a few people helping me with my pushchair and there are a couple of school children on the morning bus who give up their seat for me so I can sit down.

  13. Chris says:

    There is an old 1930s joke I read about "chivalry". A man offers his seat to a lady in a bus. She faints. When she comes to, she thanks him…and he faints!  I don\’t think young women want a suitor who is gallant and kind-hearted. He\’s "too nice." They want someone who\’s a "challenge". If only I\’d realised this when I was young!

  14. Spencer says:

    We could start by banning womens magazines. They encourage women to cook like catering professionals whilst at the same time dieting themselves near to death, to feel good about their curves whilst resolving to burn them off with rigid exercise programmes, to wear the sexiest fashions whilst dressing for themselves and not for men, to be perfect mothers whilst never lowering themselves to committing fully to the role, to make strides in the business world but without ever compromising themselves……and yes, to demonise the chivalrous chauvenist whilst at the same time demanding to know where the hell he is! No wonder women are confused. Men are confused. The magazines are confused. Who isn\’t?

  15. Beth says:

    I think its quite good if chivalry is dead, it is also quite good in my view if equality is alive and kicking.  I don\’t think you need chivalry if you have mutual respect and consideration.  I hold doors open for people, I say thank you if people hold them open for me.  On the rare occasions that I am on a busy bus (I don\’t live in a city) I have sometimes tried to give up my seat for anyone elderly, male or female (I am 39).  It gets really embarrassing when this is followed by an argument with an elderly gentleman who is obviously having problems standing but won\’t take my seat because I\’m female.  Where\’s the sense in that?

  16. Spencer says:

    Exactly 1930\’s joker. Women don\’t want chivalry. They just want it to show it\’s face so they can give it another slap for the sisters and march away with a triumphant sneer.

  17. Spencer says:

    Women must quietly be wondering if they given up and destroyed the very thing they should have valued most. I can\’t think of one arena where women can compete with men for long on an even playing field. Can anyone give me the name of one woman who who is unsurpassed in her field unless her field is womens rights? Just one? Maybe that is why women are so bitter today? Because they have proved to be their own worst enemy. They may have forever denied themselves a helping hand out of pride, only to find they are always coming second without it. Does what they have gained really outweigh what they have lost?
    That name please? Anyone? Anyone?

  18. Spencer says:

    Chivalry seems to be ridiculed by both men and women today. I scratch my head wondering what to teach my sons. If I teach them chivalry will I be disarming them in an ever more hostile world. I regret to say I don\’t practice chivalry any more because I wasn\’t taken seriously until I learned to dispense with it. My late grandmother would be very disappointed in me but how can I then teach my boys to do something I\’d no longer do myself? I like to think Jane Austen had the right values but those attitudes just don\’t survive these days. I want my kids to be survivors not shark food.

  19. Spencer says:

    Why is it the more equal we become the less we like eachother? Maybe the differentness was the appeal. Surely it beat all this spitting, cursing and lashing out. I\’m not as chivalrous as I\’d like to be but only because it isn\’t welcome.

  20. susan says:

    I think its not a case of chilvalry but neccesity eg my husband always walks on the outside of me which most times is unnessesary except when it is raining and cars speed through the large puddles caused by inadequate drainage and many a time I\’ve had to return home to change all my clothes . Apregnant woman is carrying a child which no man can comprehend as they are unable to get pregnant therefore i think they should be more caring in this case and give up their train, bus seats. Elderly people in general deserve to be treated with courtesy, mind you I remember having to tell my son to cease holding the door open for a group of them as not a single one said thankyou to him, he was about 6 at the time and it was a heavy door. I do find the elderly in particular expect things and then show no gratitude, thankyou is not hard to say.

  21. Spencer says:

    The women in Jane Austens novels were ladies. Mr Darcy would smile, bow, excuse himself and then run a mile if expected to entertain the company of  todays woman and who could blame him? Comparing Elizabeth Bennett to the modern female is like comparing an after eight mint to chewing gum.

  22. Unknown says:

    Chivalry is not quite dead, says I.
    I am still practicing this long-lost art, and I find it a sad fact today that people seem to be surprised an unsure what to when I hold the door open for them, or offer to walk them to the bus shelter under my umbrella when it\’s raining, or, in one case, the classic of holding one\’s umbrella horizontal to protect someone from a car passing through a puddle only to be soaked myself. And all this at the age of 17.
    Todays society seems to frown upon anyone displaying any form of concern for their fellow human beings, and the number of people who have told me to…well, I won\’t repeat it here…is shocking.
    But fret not, should I have children in the future, they\’ll be learning everything my father taught me: chivalry, gentlemanship and more.

  23. Spencer says:

    The root of the problem is that the art of courtesy is no longer taught as it once was. Young ladies were schooled in the art of being young ladies just as young gentlemen were trained in chivalry. It didn\’t simply come naturally. What a shame those teachings came to be considered oppressive. Young people are now so detached and unrefined they are almost ferral by comparison. How they would benefit from a return to civilised indoctrination is almost immeasurable. Sadly any move toward bringing this about would be quashed these days in the name of civil liberties, human rights or whatever else made for a catchy new watch word.
    I do despair to hear people blaming educators for the state of our society. It was we who spoke up when \’freedom of expression\’ was first championed in the early 1960s and we who went unheard. Were we really so barbaric or did we just care enough to want to protect our wards from themselves lest they end up where they have. Lost and confused.

  24. sharon says:

    Dan, you are so right, don’t stop what you do, it is noticed, it is appreciated – I certainly appreciate it. It’s only a shame that the world is so full of horrible people that when someone nice comes along they appear to be the one that’s wrong/strange. You’re not the only one though. It’s definitely a rarity but not dead completely. A friend of mine (who I secretly love but can’t do anything about because he is the friend of my ex boyfriend and so it’s just not done) is the most amazingly kind hearted, decent man you could ever meet. He helps out strangers, carrying push chairs upstairs, opening doors etc, he makes people feel good about themselves just by listening and taking an interest in what they say, he compliments you for your achievements but not in an over the top way. He is more chivalrous than Darcy in my opinion, than any man real or fiction in fact. He has amazing social skills also, he can get a conversation going with anyone and he makes efforts to include everyone when in big groups. The sad thing about all this is that despite all the goodness of him, he sometimes seems sad (like everyone I suppose) but it doesn’t seem fair that such a good person rarely receives the happiness he gives to others.

  25. roland says:

    I think that there are plenty of Mr Darcys out there, particularly in London. It is just that, like Mr Darcy, Londoners are used to putting up a barrier of reserve. You will recall from Pride and Prejudice that Mr Darcy is intitially a lot less likeable than the cavalier Mr Wickham. In my view, women (both modern and, evidently, in Austen\’s time) tend to be attracted to the Wickham type; cheeky and friendly, a little risque, but ultimately of dubious character. Darcys are more reserved and quiet, but if you get to know them, they have a lot to offer.

  26. Hollie says:

    Courtesy may not be taught as it once was but I feel that Chivalry is something almost natural and inbred within us. After reading the comments of Dan and Cufflinks I put this to the test with mixed results! In this example on my co workers who believe to know me as an independant woman and wouldnt normally practice upon me as such. I found by experimenting with behaviour this forced the chilvary out and doors were open and bags were carried. I guess we have to show men that we are in fact "ladies" and do respond well to such behaviour but that we are also approachable. It seesm some of the male sex are slightly lacking in the confidence department due to changes in gender roles. Men were dominant before and now on a fairly even playing field unsure what to do. 

  27. Tyler says:

    Chivalry is a concept held in force by social convention and since our society has devolved into a dependant blame culture, (where everyone is exactly the same as everyone else – agree or the rabid left will get you) we no longer enforce these conventions through social disapproval. Mankind is a nasty vicious animal with little to restrain it, but social convention.
    We removed the shackles from the worst of society and now through stupid and insane PC lefty policies the rest of society is being dragged into this wasteland of dog eat dog world (my apology to all canines). Western men and women are barely able to hold on to common curtesy, let alone 19th century preconceptions of behaviour.
    When ignorant women call men sexist filth for holding a door open, or selfish ingrates steal a seat given up for a pregnant women/ elderly person or possibley worse, people accepting these curtesys without a thank you, what hope do we have to stem the tide.
    Society cannot and will not change unless people of character and courage act, either through example or imposing their will upon it. Lets face it, the world is a much nicer place with politeness and curtesy, a cheery "good morning" and a smile really do brighten a day.

  28. Unknown says:

    When I hear women of today
    Sigh and ask “Why have the gentlemen gone away?”
    I smile and say in private thought
    ‘Tis your fault they have come to naught’
    ‘These gents you see have met their fates,
    And died out due to lack of mates’
    It seems of men you think the worst,
    But t’was the ladies who all died first!’

  29. Spencer says:

    You couldn\’t possibly have carried out these social experiments (doors opened, bags carried) in the twenty minutes between Cufflinks intelligent posting and your self deluded fantasy.

  30. Chris says:

    Haveitbyallmeans even as a man I am very sad to hear you say that there are no women who are leaders in their field. I can give you a lot of names if you would like. I work in the legal field and their are plenty of women who are top in their field as well as a healthy imbalance of 2/1 women to men ratio becoming solicitors.
    An example of a leader in her field as much as I dislike her is Cherie Blair a top human rights QC or what about the woman who heads the security services (MI5) or Margaret Thatcher whether you like her or not was an excellent politician with a remarkable abtitude.
    Women are as capable as men in achieving most things and their only disadvantage comes in physical pursuits, which is unfortunate but just the way things turn out. So no excuses get out there and achieve your goals.

  31. sharon says:

    I’ve already written on here but I think I should write again after reading some of these comments regarding the lack of ladies. I think it is just a general decline on behalf of men and women equally and it is sad. But then I don’t think it’s fair to say that there are no ladies or gents left at all. I like to think that I’m fairy lady like. This wasn’t always the case. I did used to behave horribly, like a rude loutish yob really but I have seen the error of my ways and I’m now trying to be a better person all round. My inspiration is this lovely friend of mine who I mentioned earlier. I used to think I was a nice enough person and normal in respect to my friends and the general public, and I also didn’t put much importance on niceness, I didn’t think it mattered much to people these days. But as I say after meeting this man it was a bit of a wake up call. And now I just want to be nice because it is important and it is valued by some people. I think with a tiny bit of effort we can spread this goodness around a bit and cheer everyone up a bit.

  32. Spencer says:

    Do British woman really still expect men to care what they want after running them down for so long? Who cares any more?

  33. sharon says:

    RUKIDDING,‘Running them down’ in what way? How/why do you feel run down? You can’t blame other people for your own mental state.

  34. matilda says:

    I think there\’s a basic misunderstanding here about what chivalry actually is. It\’s not about being condescending, undoing feminism, being a "nice guy who finishes last", nor is it in fact reserved for men alone. Making a basic effort to be courteous is, to my mind, even more important in this day and age. Amidst the dehumanising tube rushes and anonimity we need a little chivalry to keep sight of our humanity. As for the men thinking that this will be kiss of death to their masculinity/apparent acceptance of equality, here\’s my take as a young and empowered female: Do I find good manners attractive? Yes, very. Does it brighten my day to see a bit of consideration and kindness shown by the people around me? Immensely. Do I think men are pathetic or looking down on me when they\’re courteous? No. If it\’s down with confidence and genuine feeling I find it charming. Lastly, C.S.Lewis wrote a great essay on this if you want a more eloquant take on it all (no I\’m not a literary buff hankering for Austin\’s days, just a scientist who appreciates chivalry).

  35. Spencer says:

    You\’re right, well said. 3 examples to my none. Politics and law are no picnic. Maybe as a fireman (wrong, firefighter, fireman is out because it recognises my gender) I\’m just tired of having to pretend that all is well when there are glaring problems to encounter when having to pretend we\’re all competent. My watch is a man down every time we go out but God forbid we raise the issue. Whether it be life threatening or not we have orders not to broach the subject. 

  36. Spencer says:

    You don\’t recognise any anti male sentiment in the media or street level attitudes? Do you live in a cupboard?

  37. Victoria says:

    I\’m a 21 year old single woman and I love chivalry. I don\’t see nearly enough of it. I\’m currently on a trip to America and men seem to be even more impolite over here. From the ones I have met and got to know, very few hold the door open, they don\’t offer to carry heavy bags, they spit, they cough without covering their mouths and they don\’t know how to say "please" or "thank you". Half the time it just comes down to manners.
    Crazy feminists seem to have ruined chivalry. When I asked these men why they didn\’t hold doors open, they responded by saying that they think they\’ll get called "sexist" etc. I believe them, but I think it\’s so wrong. Everytime I walk through a door myself, I hold it open for whoever is behind me. It\’s being POLITE!
    Some of the girls I know are attracted to "bad boy" types. But I\’ve had enough of that sort. I\’m picky with men as it is but I can tell you for a fact that if they are anything like what I\’ve described above, then I won\’t even consider going out with them.
    There are the gentlemanly nice guys. Unfortunately their so-called "macho" contemporaries call them "gay" or "homo" and are full of derision for them. But the Mr Darcys are out there, it\’s a case of sifting through the driftwood to find the treasure!

  38. Chris says:

    Miss Tilly as a matter of interest how do you define empowered female. This is a term I come across a lot on social occasions and seems to be a phrase used to make oneself sound better and more important than those women who prefer to stay at home a raise a good family. Often used as a phrase to put other women down.  
    This really goes back to my previous comments about how this reduction in manners has come about from our obsession with material gain as a measure of success. (dog-eat-dog)

  39. Julia says:

    I had a job that involved a lot of running around central london with heavy shopping bags. I\’d been on my feet all day and had to make my way down Oxford and Regent Street carrying a huge amount of stuff, which included six quite heavy lamps. I was so exhausted that I actually had tears running down my face … and I hate crying in public … but not one guy (or woman, if I\’m honest) offered to help. I must\’ve looked pretty scary, so I don\’t really blame them! But I did see two girls helping a stranger with his luggage the other day … maybe things have switched?  

  40. sharon says:

    Oh grow up!
    The media has something negative to say about everyone. It doesn’t lead us to take that to heart and walk around resenting factions of people due to something we read in the paper that upsets us. Men, women everyone has a hard time of life. You can’t go blaming masses of people and become a woman-hater as a result. That’s just ridiculous

  41. Cat says:

    As a girl of 22 when I think of the word \’chivalry\’ I think of old fashioned notions of courtship; men holding open doors for women, pulling out chairs in restaurants, being respectful and courteous to women at all times and generally treating women with kindness and good manners.
    In that sense of the word, chivalry is now quite outdated. In today\’s society women demand equality and the result of that is that chivalry is no longer expected of men as it once was. I  think that now it\’s not about romanticism and a chivalrous man sweeping a grateful woman off her feet. I actually think everybody should be chivalrous to each other whatever their gender or age. Yes, men should be chivalrous, but if you ask me, so should women. It\’s more about politeness and good manners, and being considerate to those around you. I was really shocked a few months ago, I was driving down my local high street and saw an old lady fall over. As I tried to get to her I saw at least six people look at her and carry on walking. It wouldn\’t have been chivalrous for somebody to help her, it would have been plain human decency.
    I hold doors open for people, give up my seat on public transport to someone who needs it more than me, and treat others with respect. I don\’t see why you should be any other way. If you\’re rude and miserable to everyone you just end up being miserable yourself and what\’s the point in that?
    I personally love to be treated like a lady, my boyfriend knows how to be a gentleman and that is one of things I love about him, but I am aware that to be treated like a lady you really should behave like one! I find it pretty miserable to read that men who do hold doors open for women find themselves grunted at and abused. Whoever those people are, they need to cheer up!

  42. Aramide says:

    As a damsel living in London who\’s been rescued so many times from distress, it would be unfair of me not to speak up for the men here. Every time I have had a suitcase or some other cumbersome load to lug around, I have always found that the men in London have always been very quick to offer their help (which of course I have always graciously accepted). This gentlemanly behaviour, in my experience cuts across all races. I don\’t think there\’s a man of any race that\’s ever seen me lumbered and not offered to help so I can\’t help thinking there\’s something in the water here.. There was actually an occasion when one had walked past me while I was struggling down an escalator and another guy helped me out. The man that walked past me actually came back to apologise for not helping! I was shocked – in this day and age when people say chivalry is gone – I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. On another occasion, I was coming down the stairs with a suitcase at Kilburn station and I saw this group of three teenagers (about 16 years old) complete with hooded tops (pulled well over their heads) coming behind me. Cynical young woman that I am, my first thought was \’uh-oh, here comes trouble – please God don\’t let them bother me\’. Next thing I know, they came up to me and very politely offered to help. I was pleasantly surprised and naturally, I graciously accepted – they set my case on the floor at the bottom of the stairs for me, whereupon I thanked them heartily then they checked I was ok to continue on my own and very politely bade me farewell. The one time I can remember not being offered help was when I was at Gatwick airport with my sister and we were trying to get our suitcases onto a trolley and between the two of us, we couldn\’t seem to do it. So we thought we\’d wait for a knight in shining armour to come rescue us but unfortunately, they all walked past. My guess is that they didn\’t know why we were standing around beside the trolley and our cases – we probably looked like we were waiting for someone! Anyway, since these men didn\’t seem to realise we were damsels in distress, I took action and asked the next unaccompanied man that happened by – very politely of course and he immediately obliged -smiling even. My faith in the gentlemen of London was restored. ok, I hear you – I know they often don\’t stand up for pregnant women, the elderly, they  push and shove and jostle us and do all kinds of ‘undarcy-like’ stuff; but this one thing I will say for them if nothing else, they will help if they see you struggling with luggage. Therefore, let us raise our glasses to the gents of London and encourage them to be even gentler.

  43. Joanne says:

    We are society.
    If you want more people showing respect to each other, be one of them.  Hold open doors, men or women.  Say thank you.  Don\’t worry if people don\’t appreciate it, do it anyway.  Small gestures can make a huge impact. 
    Lots of people invest so much energy complaining about society.  It\’s you.  It\’s all of us.  If we want society to change, we need to change.
    I personally would rather live in a considerate society so I try to be considerate.  It\’s not always easy but I think it\’s worth making the effort.  If more people did the same then we would all see the difference.
    Look for the good in people and they might just be able to show you it.
    Nam myoho renge kyo xx

  44. L says:

    In "Mr Darcy\’s day" it was both legal and socially acceptable for men to beat their wives with a wooden stick for any kind of disobedience, so do you really want to turn back the clock? Times have changed, welcome to the 21st century.
    I\’ll always give up my seat on a train for somebody who needs it, an old person, somebody pregnant or with a small child – but a healthy woman, who\’s just as capable of standing up on a train as any man? Forget it. Those days are gone. I\’d almost feel like I\’d be insulting her if I offered her my seat.

  45. matilda says:

    Dear "no name"
    I\’m afraid I don\’t quite understand the correlation between society\’s material fixation and my use of the that term, perhaps I\’ve missed something here. I use the phrase with tongue firmly in cheek,  it\’s a light-hearted way of pre-empting any who might have written off my views as those of an overly sentimental female longing for prince charming, ie- I don\’t NEED anyone to hold the door for me, but I appreciate their effort if they do. I understand that some may use "empowered" to mean rebelling against a seemingly traditional role, but in this case you\’re attacker must be found elsewhere. To me empowerment simply means making my own choices, on the basis of my own desires and conscience. Whether that choice be motherhood, career or none of the above is immaterial.

  46. Mike says:

    Both my wife and I brought our two girls up to be polite and have respect for others.  Last year one of them now 34 said  "why did you have to bring us up to be so polite and gentle, we are being eaten alive out there"  It seems its not chilvary thats died its both man and womens respect for each other regardless of sex. In Britain at least "please" and "thankyou" are words that seem to be relegated to the same dustbin as common sense. 

  47. david says:


  48. Jessica says:

    interesting that all the examples of today\’s modern man failing to emulate a mr. darcy level of etiquette are taken from the reader\’s experience on the underground! it does seem that the underground does provide a completely different world to that of reality and although this doesnt excuse bad behaviour i think it would be unfair to use these experiences to make a general conclusion about the lack of male etiquette today.
    Many of those social manners of etiquette were based on the assumption of women\’s inferiority and man\’s need to take care of the "weaker sex". Surely we should herald these days of more equal (if not disrespectful!) attitudes and manners towards women. 

  49. Charles says:

    God this arguement anoys me. Girls, women, you´ve spent the last 5 generations telling, in fact screaming, at us how equal you are, and now you pretty much have equality, you don´t like it. Sorry, with the good, comes some bad.
    If you want to be treated like a modern lady act like one, the late teens, early twenties ladettes that have endeared us with their "what you fxxxxxg looking at, fxxx you you wanker" puke burp stumble, hardly sets the stage for a romantic hero to lay down his cloak while she pees on it. I strongly suspect that should Mr Darcy survive an encounter with a modern day hen party, he would indeed conclude that there really is life on other planets.
    Personally, I continue to open doors etc for old and young alike, male or female, half the time I don´t even get acknowledged, let alone thanked. And this trait is not the sole domain of the young, in fact I generally find many teenagers more polite than their middle-aged counterparts (though I expect their parents may say prove it).
    Despite the social breakdown we are all living through, and I am sure it is going to get worse, I still prefer to live in this world, than that of Miss Austin, especially if you consider that much of the politeness and courtship of the time was a reaction to the brutality that preceeded it.
    PS. The guy that took the pregnant woman´s seat on the tube, probably was from another planet, even men have worked out that carrying a baby 24/7 is no picnic.

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