Chivalry is dead! Yes, it is very DEAD especially in Nairobi, Kenya. As you may have noticed, I said very dead! That’s just so you don’t think it was a grammatical mistake. It’s the weight this matter represents.
When I first talked about it, one of my friends asked me to explain the word chivalry in simple terms. I promised to get the definition and try to break it down. This is the dictionary definition: chiv·al·ry (shvl-r) n. pl. chiv·al·ries
1. The medieval system, principles, and customs of knighthood.
2. a. The qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women.
b. A manifestation of any of these qualities.
Many times we tend to overlook some of the simplest gestures that can be termed as courteous. These are things that we can easily do and these do not take much of our energy. Such include, giving up a seat for that pregnant woman, the elderly and those who are older than us by age when riding on public transport; helping that lady pull her trolley to her car after shopping at the supermarket; giving up a place to the ladies on crowded lifts; giving way to others during rush hour traffic; pulling back a seat for the lady at a restaurant; moving heavy boxes on behalf of the ladies. These are some of the gestures that give a man an upper hand and a place on the table of who would be considered typical gentlemen. But let’s discuss this specific one.
Opening the door for a lady
Do people (read men) really do this? So when was the last time a man opened a door for you? Let’s be very honest, such things are long forgotten in Nairobi. I attend weddings, church, parties and I am always looking out for men who will go out of their way to open doors for their women as they into their cars. Sadly, my efforts to find one have come to nought. Is it that men do not remember to do this or is it just because it does not matter anymore in these so called modern days. My thinking is, there are no gentlemen left especially in Nairobi, Kenya.
“That is not fair to say Patience, look at all these women, there are not so many left that deserve such kind of treatment. Listen to the airwaves you will realize that no woman deserves such treatment. It’s a give and take situation; having done all that, what do I get in return?” Asked a Kenyan man.
Last Sunday my friends and I went to watch a movie adapted from the book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey. One of the things emphasized was the power for women to have some standards and to be able make men treat them as they would prefer. Steve tells women to, “define your standards; insist that a man has to open the door for you.”
This was demonstrated in the movie. One of the ladies refused to get into her date’s car until the man opened the door for her. The man looked at her and then engaged the gear and screeched off. All of us in the theatre were like, “ Whaaaaaaat? Did he just do that?”
There were ladies with their boyfriends or maybe husbands and I couldn’t wait to see if the men would practice this at the end of the movie. Your guess is as good as mine. As we left, all the men went straight into the driver’s seats! They had completely forgotten about it. You cannot blame them because even the women did not remember to ask for it. They comfortably got into the cars and off they drove. After all it was just a movie, right?
One man was not so lucky. He was parked next to us and as I stood there, I watched him walk towards his car with two ladies beside him. Together with my girlfriend, we watched and waited. “Too bad, if he doesn’t open the door for the ladies. I will remind him to do so,” I whispered to my pal.
True to my guess, he strode to the car and unlocked it but before he could get comfortable, I shouted, “Hey, open the door for them.” You can be sure he never went out to open the door for any of the ladies. H ahahahahhahahaaha! This is what he did, he leaned over the co-drivers seat, stretched his hand and opened the door from the inside. He looked at us and whispered, “Shhhhhhhhhhh”. Probably a signal to indicate, let sleeping dogs lie.
I on the other hand I wouldn’t let it slip or let myself sleep. I insisted that I had to have the door opened for me. We had just come from watching a movie a few minutes back and we had to ensure that Kenyan men upgrade their game.
Having witnessed this, we made a conclusion: Chivalry is so dead in Kenya. We had a huge discussion about it.
Men’s reasoning is that women are to blame for the death of such courtesy. “I understand that this is about the want for equality and independence but if you are not dependent on us then you could probably handle opening a door and moving boxes on your own,” commented another man.
Mark, commenting on a different forum wonders, “Women expect equality from 9 to 5 and preferential treatment from 5 to 9. How is it fair that I must compete with women at work and also offer them my seat during the evening commute?”
And I don’t blame men for thinking that women want to be treated like strong, independent people, because they are. Men are faced with a double standard where they know women want to be swept off their feet, and want and expect men to make the first move, but at the same time, they preach that they are strong and can be single for the rest of their lives.
Despite this, my thinking is that Kenyan men can do a little better. I understand that chivalry is a choice, not an obligation that one gender imposes on another. However, it has been said that it is those little things that make a woman feel more appreciated. If you like her, then you will automatically put her on a pedestal.
And once she’s on that pedestal as high as the castle tower, where you are the only one to rescue her, she will look out for the knight in shining armor in you.
So, men, stand up on your feet! Be the Knights in shining armor!