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Opinion: Chivalry can combat toxic masculinity

In an age predominated by modern dating, old customs of respect are missing

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"When talking about chivalry, it’s important to understand chivalry doesn’t mean chauvinism." Illustration published on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019.


Chivalry teaches people to be respectful to one another and in a time where it's common for people to go on dates with complete strangers, it can be useful in combating toxic masculinity if students are taught about chivalry and etiquette. 

When talking about chivalry, it’s important to understand chivalry doesn’t mean chauvinism. 

In fact, the two could be seen as antonyms. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, while chauvinism, in regards to men, refers to the belief that women are inferior to men. Chivalry means exemplifying polite and honest behavior — in essence, chivalry means having respect for your companion’s wishes and treating others with courtesy. 

This distinction is important to recognize because some view chivalry as misogynistic when in reality, it should be considered the opposite because the underlying traits of chivalry are respect and kindness.

Having someone open a door for me doesn’t make me less, in fact, it makes me personally feel glad because I know I deserve to be treated with respect, and I appreciate people who seek to be respectful of those they go out on dates with.

I personally would much rather go on a date with a guy who opens doors for me and respects me as a person than a guy who treats me like an object and tries to grab at me all night.

As such, if we can teach people the importance of exemplifying those chivalrous traits: respect, courtesy and kindness, we can implement those traits into dating at ASU.

SueAnn Brown, the founder of It’s All About Etiquette in Scottsdale, said teaching such respect is critical on a first date and she fears with the common practice of utilizing dating apps, rather than meeting with individuals face-to-face and gradually developing a relationship, there has been a loss of respect and social customs.

“In this day and age where the majority of it is online dating... it's become very impersonal,” Brown said. “Don't be so eager to have a relationship with somebody. Get to know them first.”

At ASU, there have been multiple cases of sexual assaults this semester, with one of the victims reporting that they met their assaulter through an online dating app. Police say that after earning her trust, the suspect allegedly then assaulted the victim in her room. This is a problem because if men were taught through societal customs to be courteous and respect others, they would not have an expectation that they are entitled to sex after the first date. 

After all, when the only interaction you’ve ever had with an individual is through a screen, it’s hard to expect both parties will be comfortable going from screen to sex in less than 24 hours.

According to a 2019 research sheet showing new data compiled by Michael J. Rosenfeld, a professor at Stanford University, the number of heterosexual couples who meet one another through online dating websites was 39% in 2017. 

Given how much people utilize these apps, it’s important to recognize the people you meet on these websites are human beings and deserve respect as well. 

“It's very important for us as human beings to be respectful and kind of others,” Brown said.

A framework for policymakers called Respect Women: Preventing Violence Against Women, initiated by the World Health Organization, says one of the ways we can reduce violence against women is through challenging “Harmful gender attitudes...that uphold male privilege and female subordination, that justify violence against women.”

Like the document says, one of the ways to reduce the assault of women and harmful stereotypes is through challenging male privilege — and one of the best ways to do that is by teaching them to serve and respect their equal counterparts.

So if chivalry is really dead, it’s time for ASU students to revive it, either by taking gender studies classes or attending an etiquette class. The bottom line is, it is important to teach ourselves to hold each other accountable when it comes to respecting one another.


Reach the columnist at slbrinso@asu.edu or follow @Stacy_L_Anders on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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