Well Talks: Is Chivalry Dead

Protestant Ministry’s Well Talks have become an integral part of my experience here at Georgetown this year. They are a wonderful way to bring the larger community together to address difficult and thought provoking conversations in a safe space. The Well Talk “Is Chivalry Dead?” was a very interesting conversation that brought up many different and important points of view. From my perspective, as presented during the talk, I believe that chivalry, as it is historically known, is dead. Chivalry was the system of values (such as loyalty and honor) that knights in the Middle Ages were expected to follow. It was an honorable and polite way of behaving especially toward women. Today, what would have been known as chivalry is seen as a common courtesy toward women, which is rooted in a patriarchal society that fostered ideas that women were weak and incapable of being autonomous. I have looked at this from another perspective, where the ideas that are fostered are all respect and utmost care for the woman, but this thinking always brings me back to the root idea is that women are fragile.

The way the question was posed “Is Chivalry Dead?” I perceived to mean are men no longer chivalrous toward women. My immediate thought was that in our society it is not necessary. Chivalry existed at a time when women had very little power and rights in the public sphere. Women have worked hard to gain power and recognition in the public sphere over time and there are many who are actively demanding gender equality. Someone brought up the question of proposal and how historically it is the man who does the action. I believe that women should be able to propose and that it should be accepted to such a degree that it doesn’t even have a shock factor. It will take time to get to that point, but I think we can and should get to that point. It was take some dismantling of patriarchal and hetero-normative structures, but I believe that it will get to that one day. To wrap up, “Is chivalry dead?” I must say that there are still individuals who act chivalrous toward others, chivalry is “alive“ so to speak but in a different way and there is no longer one face or one way to show chivalry. The Well Talks provided a space for me to think deeply about this topic and more importantly hear others perspectives. The experience, as always, was a good one and left me excited to dig deeper into the question of chivalry and topics of the like.

This article was written by Mia Campbell, C’18