01 September 2011

Chivalry: A Thing of the Past?

A research article (in ‘Psychology of Women’) termed chivalry to be “benevolent sexism”. It says, “Benevolent sexism is using ‘he’ to refer to an unknown person, helping a woman carry her shopping bags, or choosing to drive on long-distance journeys. It implies a woman cannot do these things without a man’s help”. I do know women who find it condescending; they’re independent, can ‘afford’ their bill & are capable of doing stuff on their own. The article calls it paternalistic treatment, ‘a woman being cherished or protected by men’.

I am one woman who likes being protected & cherished by a man. There. I said it.

I've had men who opened doors for me, or waited for me to enter the lift, or let me go ahead first into a room, or pulled the chair, or paid the bill on our first meeting. I’m not offended when a man offers to carry a heavy shopping bag or stands like a china wall between me & an unruly crowd in a bus or a cinema hall. I’ve come out feeling good about the experience & nice about him. I’m a lady & would like to be treated like one. And if a man is man enough to do that, I’m impressed. For all my “modern” ideas, I love feeling special & when a man does that, muah to him.

I remember once, Sathya, his friends, & I, had gone to this waterfalls place. And me being me, when I see a rock, I want to climb. It’s like a dog wanting to piss whenever it sees a pole! I set off; excited, & started climbing a rock. I must’ve slipped a bit because I saw his hands stretching out to me. I reacted saying, “HOGO (Go ya) I know what I’m doing.” He & his friends were amused; their instinctive reaction is to help a girl in a situation like this. He backed off & waited for me to join him at the top. And I did; on my own. At times like these, I don’t need a man to do the “helping a damsel in distress” drill. It’s simply not required. It wasn’t a social situation but an adventurous one. Formal situations are different. In a social set-up, if a man offers to get me a drink or a plate or a napkin or a chair, I find it endearing.

I don’t necessarily expect a man to do all this. But if he does, & not just for me; but for any woman, young or old, irrespective of his romantic inclinations, I’d be pleased by the gesture. I appreciate men who do it naturally, without trying to make an impression. I don’t know why feminists cry foul over this; after all, there are greater issues to fight for. This is not one of them. I don’t think a man who pays the bill thinks you’re a beggar & can’t afford your food. Similarly, holding the door open for someone coming in after you is courtesy. And if a man sees me home at night it’s because he wants to ensure I reach safely. That’s no reason for a war of the genders.

I dislike women who try to impress an unsuspecting guy with their daintiness & trick him into being extra nice; the ones who pretend to be delicate darlings; those who walk all fragile & fairy-like when draped in a sari & expect a man to hold their pallu or purse or mobile or head; or those who drink water like its ‘amrith’, one drop at a time; or those who eat meat like this is their 1st time (back home they’d devour an entire animal with just 1 hand) or……you get the picture right? Pls don’t try to be like a lady; if you are not, to hell with it. Jut be yourself, be whatever or whoever you’re – Tomb Raider, Cat woman, Kill Bill – but don’t fake being feminine just to extract chivalry from a gentleman & be treated like a VVIP at his expense.

Chivalry is simple courtesy. And it’d work both ways: if a man holds the door open for you, say a ‘thank you’ in return. Chivalry & good manners should be in BOTH the genders. Wish the concept was not limited to the things men do for women but extended to include things that people do for ‘others’.



102 comments:

  1. :) Chivalry works both ways and say a "Thank you". I like that part. I want to comment on the "Thank you" part. Like you said, I have seen this done as a courtesy. But the slap on the face is when people (both men and women) walk past without even a tiniest form of nod or thank you. But then there are people who say thank-you with an ear-to-ear smile. Those are the instance which make it worthwhile to hold the door open.

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  2. I have often felt guilty that I think feminist thoughts and yet I appreciate chivalry too! All the arguments put forth by anti-chivalrous people might hld water but deep down, yes I too like being cherished & pampered! Of course there are some people who overdo it - which can be irritating and demeaning. As long as people know where to draw the line between chivalry and fawning, I am fine!

    But having said that sometimes I do hand over my mobile to my husband to put it into his pocket and I never order things like Crab at a restaurant!! Although I don't think it has anything to do with being feminine - its simply to avoid being messy!

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  3. You do pick out topics close to my heart. Chivalrous men are such a treat. Hope my son grows up to be one such.

    BTW can't help posting this joke..
    A man opened a door for a woman. She, being women's-libber kind of a person said rather aggressively, "Did you open the door for me because I'm a lady?" "NO," replied the man, "I opened the door because I am a gentleman."

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  4. @Nona: true. I've encountered such ppl too n m appalled at their thoughtlessness.

    @Anne: i understand that conflict between being a feminist & the way we feel deep down. this post is a voice from the depths

    the mobile & the crab - me too - ditto. it's practical, that's why.

    i gave that example of dainty females because i see that breed particularly during functions & parties & ceremonies n its obvious that it's all an act

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  5. @OM: i am sure he will - guessing from your parenting style

    the joke: bang on :)

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  6. nice post chechi. sometimes women need protection from other men. Especially in travelling times

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  7. 1st time on your blog.. nice post!
    So true "Chivalry is simple courtesy"..
    the last pic says it all so well..

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  8. It is true .. chivalary is not about protecting women but to respect them I feel ... moreover its a good way to woo a lady too..

    Maybe i was like tat when i was in india i dont know , but since i have come here I find myself the other way .. opening doors - thank you - sorries - helping ... I guess i picked up some good habits living here ...

    Athough when i go back home my friends do ask me to not over do it as they think people will know i am frm abroad and charge more .. :)

    Bikram's

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  9. i feel good to pay the bill ;) but yeah if someone could treat me like a queen, hell why not!

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  10. Good read. :))) I learned some manners after I came to the USA...and after marriage....:))) My wife will be very happy to read your post.

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  11. @Jidhu: i am on high alert when i travel alone & totally relaxed when Sathya is there.

    @V: thank you for stopping by my blog & for posting your comments. see u again.

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  12. So very true Sujatha.. like the thought of describing it as 'benevolent sexism'

    nice read, Sujatha
    :)

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  13. @Bikram: LOL....charged more for all the courtesies extended??!!!

    @Chintan: why not! :)

    @A: manners AFTER USA & wife happened!?! hmm....

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  14. @R-A-J: thank u Raj. well, that research piece described chivalry that way. and if it is so, i for one, ain't complaining :)

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  15. Beautifully written ... enjoyed going through it :-)

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  16. Completely agree... if you are a woman, you should be treated as one. And in return that THANK YOU is a must too.

    I too am a person who likes the chivalry, but then B has his times ;)

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  17. BRAVO! I agree with every morsel of this entire post!

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  18. Who doesn't like to be pampered by their men? A message well conveyed. You write from your heart:) I always say one line. ' Respect is never demanded it's always commanded'. Behave with manners and people will behave well with you.

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  19. I have mixed feelings about the concept of chivalry. On one hand I do appreciate if some guy holds the door for me, but where I differ is that I don't expect the guy to always be the one holding the door, if I'm walking ahead of the guy and he enters after me, I can hold the door for him, just as fine, and I don't find anything odd about that....
    I agree with the part that chivalry should work both ways.
    I don't like expecting your man to always be the one to open the door for you, or pay the bill, there are women who look down on men who don't do those things, and to me it is just the flip side of a desi guy looking down on a girl who doesn't cook or clean the house. They are just two sides of the same coin, if some guy wants to hold the door for you, or a girl wants to cook for you, well and good, but to expect the same is unfair.
    For all the talk about equality of women in the world, we should be aware that equality means both good and bad, we cannot pick and choose what we like and don't like...
    Good manners isn't exclusive to any particular gender.

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  20. hehehe.. being a little tom boy I hardly notice all the Chivalry part... but sure I guess it must be a real good feeling to be treated like a lady...hmmm so guess who has taken ur advice seriously :D :D a very well narrated post :) :) :)

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  21. @Aakash: thank you Aakash

    @Aathira: ya they do. maybe because the "expectation" part wears them down sometimes. Sathya too has his moments :)

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  22. @Boobies: awwww :) thank u

    @Saru: true Saru, give and take policy always works in matters like these. do unto others what you'd want them to do unto u

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  23. @AAD: i don't "expect" any of those things either.
    But some guys just sweep you off your feet with their thoughtful gestures like seeing you home safe/standing beside you in a crowd etc

    the thing about men expecting women to cook/clean & women expecting them to pay etc - so true Anjali. it's not fair at all

    @Sukupedia: hard to imagine you as a tomboy either from your profile pic or from your posts Sunita...but well...

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  24. I dig chivalry too. And I agree with the applying both ways. My husband and I keep the door open for each other depending upon who is following and for others who might be behind us. I think it is being thoughtful, and I don't mind taking a hand extended in help or extending my hand in help. I think staying in the US has honed my etiquette. I smile at strangers and say hello. I am prompt with my pleases, excuse mes and thank yous and so are my kids now. I am independent but take no umbrage when my husband offers to drive. In this traffic, it is a torture anyway :). I love the wonderful things that my husband and male and female friends do for me. I am all for chivalry which in my opinion is basic courtesy and good upbringing.

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  25. @Rachna: true, the little things we do for others or that others do for us - the thank yous, the pleases - its sweet, it need not be looked at with suspicion & need not clash with our 'i am independent' thinking

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  26. Polished manners ,courtesy and thoughtfulness are very attractive in a person be it male or female.One should happily give and receive it .And i agree with you on delicate darling act ,it is annoying .

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  27. Oh gosh! Sujatha you said it all. Wonderful read and perfect words. Who'll not be wanted to get the rigth attention. Of course I do.. :)

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  28. Lolz at dog trying to pee :)))) but on a comparatively serious note..chivalry will never go out of fashion Sujatha..caus...there are still guys out there who as you said it do it naturally, without any form of prejudice and in the absence of audience...it is what differentiates the true guy from a fake one..:)

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  29. I have always been a chivalrous person....but sometimes people thought I'm trying to impress women...so,coming from a lady,the thought that you like such men makes me happy :-)

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  30. Agree on your point when you say it should be from both sides, but if it is only from the girls' side it looks very very weird. :-D

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  31. hey very good topic to write about...liked it much! greatttttttttttt! :)

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  32. A little bit of chivalry is endearing..you are right..:)

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  33. @Kavita: true, a person's manners does matter & it's a joy to be around such a person.

    @Pranaam: thank u for coming by my blog & reading a post. visit again

    @Ashwini: me too, i want the sweet attention :0

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  34. @India's: yes, agree with u, especially "in the absence of audience" bit. cheers to all the original, genuinely chivalrous guys out there :)

    @Pradeep: haha...looks like i made your day :)

    @Sahana: ya i guess so

    @shveta: thank u Shveta, i gather u too admire your men with a bit of chivalry in them ;)

    @Ana: the little things never fail to melt our hearts

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  35. Being natural is more important in life.your originality will win admirers ,you may be knocking wrong door with excessive act of chivalry.

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  36. @Santa: thank you Santosh.

    @Ravi: yes,do it naturally. being fake helps none

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  37. hey sujatha ..this is something i felt too many atimes...and i too had a similar experience during clge days in a hill rock climbing...where i really was going to slip and one of my fellow classmate had offered to raise my hand i had said ' hogo..nanagu agathey'...
    gud post sujatha.

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  38. Your post was a good read. A fresh view on a social gesture that is fast fading away. While travelling on bus or local train, its a rare sight to see a gentleman leave his seat for a lady or an old person.

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  39. Well said. Chivalry Is simple courtesy and appreciated when its done naturally, not just to create an impression, and of course, it shouldn't be excessive.
    I really liked this line, I'm Lady and would like to be treated as one. Very Nice Sujatha:)

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  40. I love it when a man is a gentleman :D

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  41. Hey that is a nice post!! :) you are right, it holds for both the gender!!

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  42. Iam an old fashioned gal through and through.I di pay my bills when out and on my own and stuff but chivalry is not dead as yet.It works both ways,I hate it when women cant be courteous enough when they see someone old.Men have asked to carry my groceries and open doors for me and stop their cars for me to cross.But am a bit of a suspicious person in letting someone anjaan be too nice.I think its how we have been conditioned over the years as to not trust anyone who is good to you or does something sweet for nothing in return.Loved the topic Suji,good one.Women are never courteous to the same sex,or vice versa,why is that? And I always say a thank you and place a hand on my chest in a gesture showing gratitude.Im a sweet sweet gal.;>

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  43. Very nice post. It reminded me of an amusing incident about 30 years back when I came to Mumbai. Having been propahly brought up, I gave up my bus seat to an old lady; a few stops later, as she got down, she gave me a piece of advice: 'you will never amount to much if you keep giving up your seat to others in this city':)

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  44. A big nod for your last sentence. Well said Sujatha :o)

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  45. @chitra: haha same experience & same reaction - now that's interesting :)

    @Gautham: true, while travelling, if we could accommodate, at least the old or frail people,that would be something

    @Ashwini: yes, a big No to anything excessive

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  46. @Deepthi: me too & there are many out there :)

    @KP: yes, both genders must acknowledge each other

    @Prashanth: thank you Prashanth :)

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  47. @Suzy: that was a good point Suzy:
    "Women are never courteous to the same sex"
    wonder why!! ego? attitude? hmm.
    yes, u r a sweet sweet girl :)

    @Satish: LOL - the incident! well yes in Bombay it's a truism i guess more often that not.

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  48. There are plenty. Only thing the opposite type are even more in number that the gentlemen seem to be irrelevant!!

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  49. @Deepthi: haha...well....ya...um...:(

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  50. true...and very well written :)

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  51. Interesting topic!
    Good manners are lost somewhere these days. Small courtesies extinct. Guess, it's part of evolution??
    I totally agree - Gender has nothing to do with chivalry.
    Well written Sujatha!

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  52. Thank you for thinking beyond the line. Nicely written:)

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  53. Well written. And this is the first time I have come across someone saying that it should be in both genders. Love the idea.

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  54. @SUB: thank you Sub

    @Abu: Evolution? haha. evolution should make things better than before. cant let small courtesies die.
    thank u for reading the post & taking the time to comment

    @Mithlash: that's an interesting name: Mithlash. wonder what it means!
    thank you for your comment & for liking on FB:)

    @jojo: thank you, hope the idea spreads ;)

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  55. Ohh...What a post!! i so agree that Chivalry should just not be a masculine aspect! i mean yes, it is one, but there are times when women do it too. It should definitely be two way!!

    ROFL " It’s like a dog wanting to piss whenever it sees a pole"

    Super duper writing sujatha!!

    keep it up up and up.... :)

    -Mi

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  56. @Mi: thank you Mi that's one heck of an encouragement there. thanks :)

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  57. @Sujatha:"evolution should make things better than before."

    Not all evolutionary things are for betterment. They're just adaptive changes - the tagging of keywords 'good' or 'bad' is something that we do out to necessity to classify these changes!

    BTW, I too had touched this topic in one of my posts. You can find it by searching label 'chivalry' on my blog :)

    And the pleasure's all mine. The topic interests me and I had some views to share. (Am I being too 'chivalrous' here ;) )

    Cheers,

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  58. @Abu: hmm i get your point of view & yes i am going to check your post too

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  59. Sujatha, though my thoughts are very much aligned to all that you have mentioned, this is actually the first time that I am giving a thought to this subject. Wonderfully described in straight-forward language! Keep posting! :)

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  60. I so totally love this post. 'Chivalry shown irrespective of romantic inclinations is the real chivalry.' Very well said.

    You write very well. Looking forward to reading more here. :)

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  61. What a GREAT article!!!! I was nodding my head throughout the article- you really hit the nail on the head on so many issues which you covered- I liked your distinction between men being chivalrous in a ordinary setting- but how they need to not show that 'I need to help you' in an adventurous setting. Great point!!

    Thanks for visiting my blog...any friend of Nisha's must be a wonderful person :) So glad to have "met" you!!!

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  62. @Khushbu: thank you Khushbu. i like the flow of words in your blog too

    @ajay: thank you so much Ajay. do come again

    @Anjuli: great in caps! wow! thanks :))
    yup, m glad too i "met" you. the blog world is a wonderful place to be in :)

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  63. :D Heee ha ha ha ha, This post is not for me :D
    My Dad says at least walk like women!!! anyways u dont look are act like one!!!

    Awesome he he he

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  64. @Ramya: here's the final punch from Ramya :))))

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  65. This is a British practice which somehow got into the upper echelons of India. As you said, honesty is more important - If a man means respect, he can show that in other means as well. This is as if one is trading smaller favors for larger ones!

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  66. @ES: of course an honest man can show his respect in other means as well. but a little courtesy (British practice, notwithstanding) never hurt anyone

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  67. hit the bullseye with this one... that is the whole problem of our society... we wear the masks no matter where we are or with who we are...like we will go with our special someone to enjoy a lunch or dinner and then sitting at the table we would pretend to be someone else and all the forks and spoons things... so the lunch or dinner becomes a burden rather than being an enjoyment... and open a door or helping a woman with her shopping bags is not being protective i think..but its rather gentlemanly thing... i mean how would it look if a man jump into the elevator ahead of a woman? or a female holding a door open for a male?
    keep writing...and i am happy that you dont mind a little courtesy :)

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  68. @Israr: no, i definitely dont :))
    glad you so liked the post

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  69. In the deep south of America chivalry is alive and well.

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  70. @Bip Pappi: that's really great to know :)

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  71. I would like to say this is an excellent blog that I have ever come across. Very informative. and congrats you got 100 followers..:)

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  72. @Shoaib: thank you Shoaib & congrats YOU are my 100th follower!! i had been wondering since past 2 days ever since the count was on 96 who is going to be the 100th one :)

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  73. Well its pleasure to be a follower of your gr8 blog keep up this good work..:)

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  74. @Shoaib: thank you for your encouragement :)

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  75. Thats my views exactly , I can't tell you how well this is written , Not at any instance i find it gender specific , so subtle use of words .
    I respect you!

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  76. A nicely knitted post Sujatha. Chivalry indeed remains among many gentlemen out there who would help others without prejudice...

    Believe me, I always used to give my place to sit when a women or a kid travel in a city bus. After all its nice to be nice :)

    PS: But the world out there always interpret these activities in a different perspective. Hell to them!!

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  77. @Anand: that's sweet of you to offer your seat every time.
    but I've seen women with kids "demanding" a seat, indulging in a verbal fight. that i don't like. why take advantage of someone's niceness

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  78. I think we want the best of both worlds..
    chivalry when we deem necessary.. and then, being left alone to do our own thing...

    But what we tend to forget it that it is rare to get the best of both worlds !!!
    Sigh.. how I wish it was possible !!!

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  79. toooooo good.. loved it immensely :)
    keep writing :)

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  80. @Rajendra: thank you so much, you've taken so much time to read so many of my posts & also leave a comment on each one.i appreciate your interest. thank you

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  81. Chivalry... hmm... another interesting topic...

    I have never been good at it. I have always thought it would be seen as a cheap trick. I know it's wrong but somehow it got into my mind very early in childhood itself. Maybe, something wrong with the environment in which I grew up. :(

    My wife also keeps complaining about it. Have been trying to change myself but it's not that easy to straighten dog's tail, rt? Maybe, have to put more focused efforts.

    In general, I am polite and courteous by Indian standards but have to work more on the western idea of etiquette and chivalry. I think, this post would be a good starting point. :)

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  82. @Bharathiraja: haha if your wife's been noticing & complaining, time to buckle up, isn't it :))

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  83. I really enjoyed this post :) I'd actually touched on this when I first started my blog 'cos it irked me when I noticed that chivalry was kinda dying out (and I figured out why)

    Do stop by & let me know your thoughts as well :
    http://dazedreflection.blogspot.com/2008/08/chivalry-dead-alive-or-abused.html

    I definitely think chivalry goes both ways; and a simple thank you as a sign of appreciation will go a long way (for both genders)

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  84. @Dazed: just came back from your post. we thought alike - at last on this :)
    nicely written - your post

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  85. wow excellent excellent post. and there is nothing to add here. ur posts generally cover everything. also perhaps a woman in distress is not a pretty sight, so a little helping hand or a little concern in some situations is not a bad thing.

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  86. @Deb: thank you :)
    yup,a little concern is all it takes

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  87. " Wish the concept was not limited to the things men do for women but extended to include things that people do for ‘others’."

    Very well said and true!

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  88. Hi Aarkay, thanks for reading and liking :)

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  89. Hey Sujatha, I liked your choice of post and the fact that you've used examples that we can all relate to.

    Speaking for myself, I have mixed feelings about chivalry too. To be honest, I don't like men opening the door for me or paying a bill just because of the notion that I am a woman and therefore, it is courtesy to foot the bill. I'd not like it one bit. But I see it more as good manners if a guy stands a decent distance when there are many women in a lift or in a small conference room. Like some one said here, chivalry isn't exclusive to any particular gender.

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    1. absolutely Swapna - like i wrote it in the post, it is surely a sign of courtesy/politeness/good manners from BOTH and women abusing it is the worst thing i mean when they go with an empty purse knowing the man will pay for everything is sick.

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  90. I agree, chivalry should work both ways. Men sometimes go out of their way to be nice and courteous to a lady, and most of the times the lady might find that behavior to be suspicious, I am not sure why even though the guy is a friend of hers and not a stranger. They think the guy is up to something when he is being overly nice to them.

    I agree that there is a limit to it, overdoing it might make the other person a little uncomfortable, so we need to learn to draw the line.

    "When I see a rock, I want to climb. It’s like a dog wanting to piss whenever it sees a pole!" --> hahahaha!! I LOLed at that! :D

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    1. true, many look at courteous men with suspicion & then will go right ahead & crib with their friends that 'that man was not decent' !!!
      i don't understand what is the harm in appreciating a good gesture from someone

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  91. I had wanted to read this post since the time it was posted. But as the luck would have it I read it toady morning and was amazed again at your talent to have a different take on a usual subject. To write with a difference is your style and it is splattered all over in this post.

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