Not enough Mr Darcys around

They say chivalry is dead and that the days of men opening doors for ladies, standing up when a woman enters the room, or doffing his cap respectfully seem to be firmly fixed in the “good old days”.

While I’d say that these kinds of gestures may be lacking in modern day culture, but chivalry on the other hand is by no means dead. Perhaps It’s place has changed a little as women now strive to be equals in the business world.

There is a common misconception that confuses the concept of chivalry with that of courtesy and human decency, and that’s why Jane Austen with her writings about etiquette, gentlemanliness and decorum now has a lot to answer for – because there just aren’t enough Mr. Darcys to go around. Jane surely couldn’t have known that 200 years later the iPod-toting, mobile-dependent, skinny-jeans-clad generation of the early 21st century would still be hanging on to the sentiments of Pride and Prejudice as if it were some kind of romantic bible, leaving generations of men and women at odds with their expectations.

As I was getting out of a crowded elevator in Rosebank the other day, an elderly woman who was slow in gathering her belongings was standing in front of me. As I waited for her to get out I felt a shove in my back, dropped my bags to the floor and nearly took the poor woman out with me. I turned around to see not an impatient teenager too young to know better, but a well-dressed, middle-aged man glaring back at me. “Is there no chivalry in this world anymore?” I asked myself. “Can you HURRY UP and GET OUT?” was the unknowing answer from Mr. Haughty. This wouldn’t have happened in Jane’s day. Yes, I know there were no elevators back then, but even if Mr. Darcy were alive today, you wouldn’t catch him knocking old Mrs. Bennett to the floor with his briefcase before asking Lizzie to get a move on as they took their afternoon stroll because someone was messaging him on his Blackberry.

There is definitely a balance between manners and “treating us mean” and that is the problem guys seem to have with the concept of chivalry today. They do not understand that, like Mr. Darcy, a man must present himself to be both respectful and good mannered while at the same time being independent and self-assured. Nine times out of 10 we want you to open the door for us. The remaining time we want to be assured that we are able to do it ourselves. Balance, gentlemen, balance.