Whatever happened to chivalry? Why are women now saving the Prince?

By Tiara Camille Teruel

I was recently playing “house” with my friend’s daughter and came to a very interesting realization about my beliefs when it came to chivalry. How nowadays, the idea of chivalry has shifted from feeling valuable and respected as a woman to the idea of succumbing to weakness and dependence.

This became even more apparent to me as I made little dolls come alive with a 5-year-old.

“No! that’s not how you save her!” my friend’s daughter Amelia cried loud and clear.

Apparently I was being an awful prince. I did not know how to save the princess. Ahem, sound familiar, boys? I immediately became confused.

“But I had let the princess save herself…I thought that’s what she wanted to do,” I answered. I literally pretended to shout out to the princess how to “save” herself. My doll playing is definitely rusty.

“No, she actually wants you to pick her up and save her and treat her like the princess she is. That is why she has the crown, you see?” Amelia brilliantly pointed to the tiny sparkling crown and giggled, “She has superpowers but she lets her prince save her, and she enjoys it.”

Wow. This little girl doesn’t realize it, but she pretty much summed up what single women have been confused about in our day and age. Most want to be princesses and yet get angry and offended when men do anything for them. It’s like they feel power stripped from them when instead it should be looked at as being valued even more.

Jasmine, Cinderella, Snow White, Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle, Ariel, the list is endless of the many different princesses we are familiar with in fairy tales. We grow up from little girls with these ideals and our interpretations, only to become seemingly angry that these were our realities.

Chivalry and “letting” the Prince save you, used to be a dream come true. Now we replace it with notions of doing it ourselves and even to some extent saving the Prince. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that either, but why the anger? I can appreciate the independence we have and the beauty in being able to be self-sufficient, but as little Amelia reminded me, there is also nothing wrong with some good ol’ chivalry.

We Filipinos understand traditions and especially chivalry. At least we used to. We see it in our ‘lolos’ and how they respect and treat our ‘lolas.’ It used to be part of our lifestyle and culture. It was about being polite and behaving honorably especially toward women.

Things have changed and somehow, we are living in times where chivalry has just been a part of the past. According to much research, only a few men would offer women their seats, help carry heavy bags, or even open doors for ladies. The number one reason for this, as many men said, was due to fear of offending.

Many articles have broached in on the subject, but one article in particular, by Martha De Lacey, stated that even though 93 percent of women still prefer a man’s respectful acts, men do not consider chivalry anymore because they are afraid that women might think they are being treated as weak individuals.

When roles are also reversed, researchers found that men don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of chivalrous acts either.

What is it really about chivalry that makes men and women think the ones on the receiving end are weaker? Maybe it’s just in our perception of it and how we have come to understand it.

Chivalry is a code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood and that the code of chivalry is a moral system to establish a notion of honor and nobility. We somehow nowadays believe that knights thought of women as less, and that women and children were weaker. They actually believed that if women and children were attacked, that would be more severe than if they were attacked themselves. This probably led to that notion that they think they were weak.

Like many mature Filipino-Americans, I still believe in some traditional aspects and I think it is important for a man to understand his urges and primary roles. I think it’s nice for a woman to let a man feel like he’s being a man by being in charge at times and taking care of a woman. It’s healthy to let a woman feel like she doesn’t have to bear the responsibility and that she has the support.

As for us women, we have to allow ourselves to accept being taken cared of sometimes and erase the notion that it makes us weaker. It doesn’t. It actually makes us strong to admit there are things we need and that we can appreciate not having to only stick to our selfish ideals of what it means to be strong. Enjoying the company we keep is just as important as having the same ideals.

Chivalry is not dead! It is slowly becoming extinct, but with a change of perspective we can save it! It lives within those women who believe that we are actually stronger for it! Whether or not we believe in chivalry, it should not affect how we perceive ourselves. It should only help us realize our own strength in letting someone else have the opportunity to please us. Having that code of honor is still important and appreciated.

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