Ladies: How to Treat a Gentleman

by Danelle on March 2, 2011 · 23 comments

Man opening car door

In honor of NeW’s Gentlemen’s Showcase, I wanted to give some advice to all the young ladies who witness gentlemanly behavior.

1.) Always thank a gentleman: When a man opens a door for you, pulls out your chair, or lets you walk before him, thank him! There are far too many young men who have been raised to be gentlemen, but have given up because women do not show how appreciative they are.

2.) If a gentleman offers to help you, do not reject it coldly: One of my peers has the habit of saying “Just because I am a girl, does not mean I can’t….” if a young man offers to help her with carrying books or pushing open a door. Please do not do what she does. If you do not need the help, say it politely. Again, young gentlemen will give up on being a gentleman if you dismiss their thoughtfulness outright.

3.) Treat him with the respect he shows you: This is a summary point of the other two points. Do not take advantage of a gentleman’s kind behavior. A gentleman acts the way he does because he shows others respect, so please treat him with the same amount of respect!

Remember, being a gentleman does not mean that as a young lady, you are better than him or he is better than you. Being a gentleman is about mutual respect and equality. A gentleman opens the door for you because he believes that all women (and all people in general) deserve to have doors opened for them. Conversely, a lady thanks a gentleman because she believes that all men (or people in general) deserve respect for their kindness.

I encourage you, if you are not already, to be a lady and treat gentlemen with this mutual respect. As long as ladies in society exist who are considerate and kind toward gentlemen, gentlemen will always exist.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Alyssa March 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Thank you for this reminder! I agree with these points :)

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Elizabeth March 2, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I completely agree! In order to encourage gentleman, we too need to treat them with respect when they do nice things for ladies…and other gentleman. I think we could all take the time to recognize how to respect one another more…no matter if we are male or female.

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Emily March 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Why do you insist that men and women treat each other as ladies and gentlemen rather than as decent human beings? You are not making allowances for people who are not white, upper-middle class, straight and heteronormative, which is a very dangerous and close-minded thing to do. Until you ask for equality for everyone from all walks of life first, you will never truly receive the respect you desire.

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Danelle March 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Emily, I think we need to throw away the close-minded definition of “ladies and gentlemen” like you are using. Being a lady or gentleman is not based on class, race, or sexual orientation as if we’re attending some high society tea party in the Victorian Era–it is based solely on how a person treats another person because we live in an egalitarian, 21st century society. This post never says that only white, upper-class people can be ladies or gentlemen, and I think it is a bit racist to assume that distinction is even present. Perhaps you ought to adopt the new-age, more cosmopolitan definition of ladies and gentlemen like I use and not close-mindedly hold on to outdated definitions.

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Jenn March 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I hate the way this is divided into the gendered categories of ‘lady’ and ‘gentleman’. If those are labels you want to use for yourself, that’s fine! I do indeed call myself a lady from time to time, and I believe my boyfriend considers himself a gentleman. But even we, two bisexual people in a heterosexual relationship, do not fit cleanly into typical gender roles. What if I want to open a door for him? Does that make me unladylike? The traditional ways of seeing these gender roles you are enforcing would probably describe it as such! But I open doors for everyone, male, female, trans, gender queer, etc, alike! I do it because it’s POLITE. Not every man can fit into this masculine ideal of what a gentleman should be. And as post modern gender theorists, it is our duty to allow the male population the same amount of equality, liberation, and freedom to be themselves and express themselves regardless of gender, that women have been successfully achieving for the last century!

I think it is time for a ‘People opening doors for people regardless of gender stereotypes’ day, to celebrate the polite courtesy that all people can show for each other regardless of gender expression!

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Danelle March 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Jenn, some of what Emily said overlaps in my explanation. Again, I think you are limiting the definition of ladies and gentlemen into one of the past. In my post I do make sure to put in parentheses “(and all people in general)” when talking about opening doors and thanking people for kind acts. I agree, whenever a person is behind me as I am walking through a door, I hold the door. I make no gender distinction. What I believe is that people in personality can be ladies and gentleman – it boils down to being considerate, and as you said, polite.

You mention a masculine ideal, and again, you are being close-minded by immediately assuming that’s what I am advocating. I do no such thing. I believe that people can act like ladies and gentlemen (aka being considerate, kind and polite) by way of their personality.

Please do not assume that because I am conservative or use the term “ladies and gentlemen” that I want a cookie-cutter world. I live in the 21st century, and since you are a post-modern gender theorist, it would be a good idea to help bring the terms ladies and gentlemen into the 21st century as I am.

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Emily March 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Yes, all people in general should be polite and considerate but they should be decent PEOPLE first and foremost. By using the terms ladies and gentlemen, you are limiting people to the gender binary of female and male without making allowances for people who do not want to fit within those confines. Look at the picture you used for this post, and you say you do not want a cookie cutter world of late 1940s and 1950s America, where masculine men open car doors for their feminine women? It is demeaning behavior disguised as manners. I told a man politely once that he did not need to hold the door open for me and he didn’t even LISTEN to me. He just said, “It’s just being polite.” But guess what? It’s not longer being polite when such behavior is done against my will and taking away my agency. If you want to be in relationship with a man where he holds the door open for you and does all of the things you think a gentlemen should, that’s one thing, but don’t expect every person in this diverse, changing world to live in the same way.

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Danelle March 3, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Emily, I can see that nothing I can say here will change your mind about NeW or the terms “ladies and gentlemen.” I would encourage you to find a local chapter and find out what we’re all about.

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Bob March 23, 2011 at 7:18 am

Danelle, the this whole thing of yours is folly because you fail to understand that there are literally millions of shrill shreiking feminists out there just like Emily and Jenn. Harpies like those two is the reason that chivalry is dead.

Like it or not, chivalry will not return until women reward chivalrous behavior and stop rewarding the behavior displayed by thugs, douchebags and a-holes. But to reward chivalrous behavior is to have to listen to the blackboard scraping-like sounds uttered by feminists such as Emily and Jenn.

Unfortunately, the only way for a man to succeed with women is to stop being a nice guy (because nice guys finish last) and to start being more of a douchebag or a-hole. The guys who allow themselves to be part of your so-called “Gentlemen’s Showcase” are setting themselves up for failure, loneliness and mass rejection by women.

bmmg39 April 13, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Bob: “Danelle, the this whole thing of yours is folly because you fail to understand that there are literally millions of shrill shreiking feminists out there just like Emily and Jenn.”

How are they shrill shriekers, Bob? What’s “shrill” about volunteering to do nice things for men, just as men are being told to do nice things for women? What’s “shrill” about the following?

Jenn: “I think it is time for a ‘People opening doors for people regardless of gender stereotypes’ day, to celebrate the polite courtesy that all people can show for each other regardless of gender expression!”

Yeah, Bob, I know — what a monster she is. [sarcasm off]

Kevin March 25, 2011 at 1:34 am

Bob said one thing I will absolutely agree with: Nice guys DO finish last (if they finish at all).

You can say all you like about “gentlemanly behavior” until the cows come home, and I will agree with most of it if not all, but women don’t connect emotionally to nice guys. Never have, never will. What passes for “jerks” will lead to long term relationships far more than opening doors and saying “Ma’am” and the rest of that chivalrous tripe.

If chivalry is dead, it’s for a good reason.

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Danelle March 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Bob and Kevin,
I do not think chivalry is dead. Many nice women are out there waiting for nice guys, or “gentlemen.” You just have to look in the right places. Also, it’s my belief that the most meaningful relationships are based on respect between two people. A relationship between a jerk and a passive person is not meaningful and I guarantee will not be long-term.

Take a look at my recent entry and tell me what you both think. It will give you more insight into how I feel about these issues. “Jerks” need to stop getting away with their behavior and women are the ones who can put a stop to it.

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Bob March 30, 2011 at 12:11 am

Danelle, I read your recent entry on the TV show, “Disaster Date” and left a comment there.

Regarding this post, you are absolutely correct with your last point that, ” ‘Jerks’ need to stop getting away with their behavior and women are the ones who can put a stop to it.” But will today’s women put a stop to it? Or, will today’s women follow their id and continue to prefer thugs, douchebags and a-holes? What many women don’t seem to understand is that their own sexual and other favors are a reward system to men. Men in general see the types of male behaviors that result in desirable women granting such favors and realize that, if they too want to have such favors granted, they’d best demonstrate the successful behaviors of thugs, douchebags and a-holes and avoid the behaviors of men who go home alone and frustrated, i.e. the nice guys.

Chivalry, I’m afraid is dead and buried. Feminism grievously wounded it and the preference that too many women have for thugs, douchebags and a-holes killed it. Nice women may claim that they are waiting for nice guys but the truth lies elsewhere. To test my theory, all you need to do is watch what women actually do. Don’t listen to their words, but instead watch their actions. Do they deign to speak to any normal-looking guy? Or, are such guys shot down in flames upon or before the initial approach? With whom do they leave the bar on a weeknight or weekend night? Do they date the nicer guy who is perhaps lacking a bit of self-confidence or fashion sense or do they mock him? Do they limit their interest to only the athletes or the ten percent of guys on campus who might be called the “elite”, while ignoring all the other guys? I’m curious.

A meaningful relationship is one where the needs of both people involved are met. Perhaps to you that means mutual respect. But people are different and not everyone would agree with you on what constitutes a “meaningful relationship”. Whether I think or you think that a relationship between a jerk and a passive person is meaningful or is long-term is irrelevant. It only matters to the people involved.

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bmmg39 March 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm

“Being a gentleman is about mutual respect and equality. A gentleman opens the door for you because he believes that all women (and all people in general) deserve to have doors opened for them. Conversely, a lady thanks a gentleman because she believes that all men (or people in general) deserve respect for their kindness.”

Sorry, but this falls flat. If it’s truly about “mutual respect and equality,” then you will encourage women to hold the door for a man once in a while. I’ve been following this “gentlemen quest” contest for some time now and I’ve yet to see any of its proponents show any sign of this. I hold the door for both females and my fellow males, and I’ve had people of both genders hold the door for me. That’s what it’s about: common courtesy. Chivalry, in contrast, is a sexist (to BOTH genders) construct that treats men as though they are servants and second-class citizens. Saying “thank you” when someone does something for you is all well and good, but you should be letting HIM go first, holding the door for HIM, and giving up to your seat to HIM once in a while. Otherwise, all the talk about this being “mutual” will just come off as hollow.

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Danelle March 31, 2011 at 3:52 pm

bmmg39,
First, I encourage you to read my follow-up post http://enlightenedwomen.org/re-ladies-and-gentlemen/ since you are interested. Second, I believe right in this comments section actually, I say that I agree with women or “ladies” holding doors for men, women, etc. I make no gender distinction when it comes to behaving politely. In fact, I gladly let another girl sit down on the bus the other day because I was fine with standing. I also have helped guys pick up their books or papers if they fall. The same goes for holding doors or letting people go first. I, as a lady, feel obligated to be courteous to people, and that’s what this is all about. A gentleman feels the same. It’s about being considerate of others’ well-being.

I am curious as to how chivalry treats men as servants. I think you miss the point of being considerate or chivalrous: it’s completely willful, so you’re not forced to be a gentleman or lady in modern society. You simply feel an internal obligation or duty to help others. Historically, chivalry – although built in a society of harsh gender and class distinctions – was still about honor, duty, and helping people in need whether it was man or woman.

All in all, I’m discussing the modern-day definition of the lady and gentleman.

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bmmg39 April 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Danelle: “I also have helped guys pick up their books or papers if they fall. The same goes for holding doors or letting people go first. I, as a lady, feel obligated to be courteous to people, and that’s what this is all about. A gentleman feels the same. It’s about being considerate of others’ well-being.”

Great! Then we’re on the same page there. But how come I don’t see this reflected in the “finding a gentleman” contest? Why aren’t you encouraging people on college campus to seek out polite, courteous PEOPLE? Why is it just “gentlemanly” behavior being sought?

“I am curious as to how chivalry treats men as servants. I think you miss the point of being considerate or chivalrous: it’s completely willful, so you’re not forced to be a gentleman or lady in modern society. You simply feel an internal obligation or duty to help others.”

Right — but those who specifically expect a MAN to do x, y, and z for a WOMAN and not her to return his courtesy (and “return his courtesy” is not a euphemism for sexual favors or anything) are placing pressure on one group and not another. (If you’re not among those people doing that, Danelle, then great.) I have that internal obligation to others because I’m a human being, but if someone told me it’s my job to do it because I’m MALE I’d become quite resentful. “Ladies First” means “Men Second” — hence my saying “second-class citizens.”

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pf May 27, 2011 at 9:57 am

Nice guys don’t finish last, their only starting.

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lucky September 23, 2013 at 5:53 am

Can anyone just tell me why women play with gentelmens feelings, hurt them and even worse breaks their hard?
why do they treat them like they are a piece of shit?, why do they change their feelings and mood frequently?
and above all why in the world should i even still be a gentelman if that is happening to me?
thanks for any comments

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lucky September 23, 2013 at 5:54 am

break their heart

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