With a generation of “selfies” and social media implosion, some may believe that the art of chivalry may be on the verge of extinction as we become increasingly obsessed with our own placement in the world. Is pulling out a chair, holding a door or offering your seat to a senior when riding public transportation a thing of the past? Deciphering if certain gestures are still appreciated (or wanted) can be a slippery slope—much less how to demonstrate them. In walking this fine line of courtesies, it raises the question; is chivalry still in mainstream rotation?
Originating as idealistic code of conduct during the Middle Ages, thuggish warriors in the north of France were developed into refined knights in shining armor. The desired outcome exemplified virtues of gallant honor, courtly love and courtesy. Acquiring the strength and skills to protect the weak and defenseless wasn’t such a bad idea, either. This chivalrous code of conduct later inspired writers, artists, and philosophers to be quicker with their word than the sword. Noble gestures from speaking respectfully to exercising common generosity set the standard for mannerisms beyond the knight’s initial code of protection. My how things have changed. If the Knights of the Round Table sat across from us today, they’d likely chop off our fingers for allowing smart-devices to distract us during a meal.
George Hahn, founder and editor of the men’s lifestyle site George Hahn.com, is dedicated to keeping up your style without breaking the bank. As a keen observer on today’s style and etiquette, he shares, “I was born in the 70s where middle class wages weren’t going anywhere and mothers began going to work in order to help contribute. Certain things like learning to shave, do laundry etc. more or less fell away because both mom and dad were not home. I would hypothesize that chivalry sort of fell away at that time for my generation.”
In the southern part of the country is Texas native Chris Brown, founder and curator of Refueled Magazine, a lifestyle brand devoted to American heritage, community and craftsmanship. Brown feels southern hospitality is still alive and well, stating, “As a Southerner, I believe chivalry is still very present. Women deserve to be loved and treated well, but then again, I’m sort of old fashioned. I don’t feel it’s changed too much over the years—it’s a courteous gesture to anyone, really.”
Although chivalry’s presence may be spotty, one’s location may play an important factor in both action and reaction to classic gestures of good will.
“Living in Manhattan where some people can be a bit self absorbed, ‘or too busy,’ I’ve occasionally noticed poor behavior like not holding the door for someone or pulling the chair out—or even moving out of the way in a crowded elevator to let someone out,” says Hahn. “We tend to lean on our smart-phone devices too heavily and can be lazy in regards to courting someone. With the social/dating apps available today, people seem to have forgotten how to flirt—a wink or poke doesn’t count.”
Along with a blurred behavioral code of conduct, personal courtesies such as grooming habits follow suit. To shave or not to shave is up to the individual, (though one’s significant other’s opinion could weigh in). Either way, Askmen.com says, “As long as there are clear distinguishing lines between key follicular patches (read: beard to chest), you’re good.”
Scents can also play an intricate role in pursuing (or keeping) a mate. Hahn states, “To be blunt, don’t wreak! Whether it’s body order or exercising restraint in cologne and fragrances. No one two feet away from you should be able to smell you.”
If you struggle with the two-spray minimum, there are other options for grooming scents and techniques found favorable for the laws of attraction. Using products that contain essential oils, known for calming, relaxing and even evoking nostalgia in one another have been known to spark and keep our mates attention. Brown admits, “I have a full beard, and with that comes a certain responsibility not only to yourself, but to others—especially your wife or partner. I maintain my beard with products that happen to have ingredients such as cedar, almond oil, grape seed and pine needle. My wife loves to snuggle up in it; but I believe that’s because the scent not only reminds her of her favorite forest, but using proper beard products keep it soft.”
There’s no question that chivalry’s existence today is subjective, but ultimately has taken on a different form. In order to keep today’s interpretation fluent, Brown admits he’d like to see men get creative within their environment, “my hope is men will continue to open that door, pull out the chair, but also do something like plant your significant other an herb garden or cook a great meal.”
Along with creativity, Hahn feels men should not be afraid about putting in the extra effort. He states,” be the guy who takes the time and thought into sending thank you notes. Seeing a handwritten note is so extinct these days… and sending flowers is still a nice gesture. That’s how you should treat people today. It’s worth it because you want to end the day right with yourself.”
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