A dying breed.
It is quite often we see a woman unsure about how to respond to kindness and chivalry from men. The result is either an extremely awkward moment or misunderstanding. Who’s fault is this? Are men no longer being taught social graces? Is it that our culture now no longer informs a woman on how she should be treated? Could the absence of such be damaging to the fabric of our society?
You might very be surprised if you ask a millennial, what does he/she expect from a prospective partner. First of all, there’s an increasing number of same sex relationships. The male to female relation that has been with all civilizations since time began, is now being questioned and brushed aside. It might shock you, but in some cultures young women have a dream girl and young men have a dream guy they want to be with. In the west, like it or not, that’s where we are.
Secondly, as time passes, cultural norms shift and expectations change. Long held traditions become challenged and some wither away into obscurity. Cultural evolution is quite real. Like a distant memory, bedrock ideas become eroded in insignificance. This is rather evident in human relations. Today we might spend more time with virtual reality and artificial intelligence that real persons.
Men still mostly want food and sex. Much hasn’t changed. Women want….affection and quality time among other things. Maybe not so much anymore. Lovers no longer write love letters. A quick WhatsApp message is customary. “Hey bby! Luv u.” If a message doesn’t appear from you, it’s a point of argument. This absence of a text is a sign that you’re not good at communicating and insensitive to her needs. You’re expected to make posts about your mate on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. On birthdays, your status message and display pic are supposed to show that you’re celebrating him/her.
One thing that has not escaped my observation is the crude and unkind way in which some younger men are treating women. Their language is uncouth and discourteous. Some of the actions towards ladies are downright brutish. What’s absolutely disappointing is that women are passing these off as normal. There is no reprimand or resentment.
What is frightening is that women folk now have no clue how to respond to kindness. When you get their chair, they take another one. You open a door and they stand waiting for you to go through. In one instance a lady remarked at how surprise she was that I would hold the door for her. Apparently, she’s been doing this a lot for men. I’m not quite sure we can call this a role reversal but more a deficit in chivalry and gentlemanly conduct.
Then there is the all too familiar mistaking of kindness as some type of overture. A true gentleman may easily find himself being labelled a womanizer or a flirt. The biggest trap is to offer a listening ear to a woman. A lot of men are no good at conversing with a woman. So she’s always in need of a pair of ears and quality conversation. Offer that just once and they’ll keep coming back. Now, just because a man pays you some attention, it doesn’t mean he’s looking to get with you. Certainly it does not mean you should try to get in with him either. Just appreciate this as kindness, as frightening as it may seem.
The only constant thing about life is change. Should we just accept these changes as a shift in culture and resist all efforts to resort to principles that existed previously? What advantage do we gain as a society if we abandon some of these culturally derived practices? I will not posit an answer to these questions but I leave you with the profound words of John Wooden:
“Although there can be no progress without change, not all change is progress.”
It does not hurt to be kind to a lady. To my lady friends, some acts are just kindness with no strings attached.