This past weekend I took a group of high school students to a concert. Within the group of 20 students, there were 3 couples. As the youth leader I keep an eye on all the interactions between the opposite sexes, whether they’re dating or not. So I was bewildered when we loaded into our vehicles and the girls went one direction and the guys went another. I thought “This is a prime opportunity to hold hands, snuggle, or whatever without their parents or teachers enforcing a six inch rule (my rule is that I have to see their hands).
But as the night wore on, relationships warmed up and on the way home I had to keep one eye on the road and the other on the rearview mirror to see who and what was happening in the seats behind me. I knew that even though the majority of my students went to a Christian high school together, there was still the same amount of sexual curiosity, experimentation, and exploitation as any other group of teenagers. It wasn’t holding hands and snuggling I was worried about. I knew many of those students had no problems going the next step to make their significant other feel good.
Every generation complains about the last. So as I thought about this phenomenon and lamented how “It was different when I was their age” I realized how much of the locker-room talk and high school pregnancies I had blocked out of my own high school experience. While I tell stories about how guys in my school held open doors and carried girls backpacks, I remembered how many times I’d go home and lament that “nice guys finish last”. I finally came to the conclusion that chivalry isn’t dead, it never existed. It’s purely the place of fairy tales and myth. Every girl fantasizes about being a princess, who is awakened by her prince charming. He has no flaws, treats her like a prized piece of crystal, respects her as a woman, and puts the toilet seat down. He picks her up in his strong arms and holds her gently as they ride off into the sunset. But deep down, did she really wish Gene Simmons had shown up with a flippant “Get in the #*@! car”?
There’s no such thing as gentlemen or ladies. At least that’s not really what society wants. Grand romantic displays or simple acts of kindness toward the opposite sex are self motivated and/or expected. Look at the images thrown into the world and how they are voraciously consumed. It’s not the fault of pornography, rock n’ roll, hollywood, fashion, or anything else. Those industries are there to provide what people want. What they fantasize about. It’s art imitating life. If people didn’t want it, they’d quickly go out of business. We now have common phrases to define us that are anything but chivalrous.
Friends with benefits
Bro’s before Ho’s
A common phrase I heard in high school and still today is “I could never date them, I wouldn’t want to ruin our friendship”. Last I checked, friendship was one of the key components to a successful marriage. Guys who tried to woo girls with chivalry watch as a woman stepped across the mudpuddle on their coat into the arms of the guy who raced ahead to meet her.
I’d argue that Chivalry isn’t what anyone has ever wanted. Because Chivalry in itself is countercultural. It’s submission and respectful. It’s courteous and kind. Chivalry is unmotivated because it accomplishes nothing personal or political. Throughout history those in power were anything but chivalrous. If they had been, they would have been seen as weak and easily overthrown. If knights and princes had actually been so chivalrous, why do we have evidence of princesses wearing chastity belts?
Did anyone ever believe in Chivalry?