9.03.2010

Don't Open Doors

Girls, I’m sure that you can relate to how I am troubled by the way young men in our modern culture do not have the same kind of politeness that my grandma tells me they used to have. Seeing a guy in his early twenties walk through a door in front of me and let it swing back in my face without so much as a glance seems a good reason to be annoyed. Of course, I know plenty of absolutely amazing guys who go beyond what is required of them to be gentlemanly and kind, but on average these aren’t the kinds of men you meet every time you come to a door or need a seat. However, as I recently pondered this issue of the decline in our standard of gentlemanliness, I realized how connected it is with the steady rise of feminism. I realized that as ladies are more and more trying to be so independent and self-sufficient, we are pushing away the attempts of the gentlemen to simply be gentlemen.

Now don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that all of the feministic movement was/is bad and shouldn’t happen. No way! Without that, women wouldn’t be able to vote! What I am saying is that much of our culture has encouraged such self-reliance and egotistical individualism that guys are discouraged from doing something that might create the impression that girls are weak or helpless. Let me give an example.

Picture a girl who has always found it hard to “be a lady.” She has trouble letting something be done for her when she knows that she could do it perfectly well herself. Like many of us, if a gentleman did offer his chair or his place in line, she would just brush it off with a “No, that’s fine, thanks though.” If she is going somewhere with her brothers, she doesn’t stop to let them open the door if she was there before them. Sound familiar?
I believe that most of us girls just don’t give guys the opportunities to do the things that we might afterward criticize them for not doing! Or if they do offer, we refuse, thinking of the inconvenience to them or the awkwardness for ourselves. The truth is we have to realize that guys will stop offering their chair, their coat, or their place in line if they know that they will be rejected time and time again. And that is exactly what is happening. If we really want gentlemen to be gentlemen, half of the responsibility is for us to act like ladies! However, this can actually be harder than it sounds.

Take for example an experience that I had last summer.

I was at TeenPact's Survival camp and another young man and I were headed off to the river to get a bucketful of water. I was carrying the empty, plastic, five-gallon bucket which I’m sure you all realize weighs only a couple of ounces. However, he offered to carry it for me. Of course, my first instinct was to act just like our first example and brush it off with a, “Oh, I’m fine, thanks though.” But instead, I thought for a second longer. I realized that he was offering to do something out of a simple gentlemanly courtesy, and that is exactly what I’m always wishing I saw in modern young men! Now I’m actually seeing it, and yet my first impulse is to refuse. No wonder these kinds of courtesies are scarce! So, though it felt awkward, I accepted his offer, and watched as his face showed the encouragement it had been to him to be allowed to live up to the role he desired. (But... I did help out carrying back the full bucket.)
That was when it first struck me that maybe average guys aren’t being gentlemen because we aren’t letting them! We need to stop complaining about the lack of gentlemanliness (is that a word?) and start actually encouraging it when we see it! If a guy offers his coat, thank him and take it! If he offers his seat, bless him by not refusing! Even if it is something as small as an empty bucket, encourage him and accept the help. And by all means, don’t open doors!

(this was pulled out of my past stock of written pieces. hope you enjoyed it.)

2 comments:

  1. Wow, were you intentionally trying to describe my struggles? :)

    I totally relate with your message. It's so easy for girls to feel offended by chivalry, because in our culture, accepting it is portrayed as an admission of incapability. But that's not the case. You were so right. They don't think we're weak, and we're not acting like it. They're being gentlemen, and we're encouraging it.

    I had a similar situation involving a sweater at Survival that year. I really wanted to say no, because I could handle the cold. But a staff girl had encouraged us to let the guys be gentlemen, so I took it. And, though he was cold, and I was a little awkward, I think the ultimate goal of living out God's calling as gentlemen and young women was lived out. It's funny how the hardest things to do can be the most simple.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    ~Rachel

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  2. Awesome post dear! I guess that it all comes back to being conscious of what's going on around us and being encouragers whenever possible.

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thoughts so far