Imagine the 1980s movie The Princess Bride, the medieval film about romance and adventure. You see Princess Buttercup rolling down a hill into her lover’s arms, the handsome and dashing, Westley. Though not quite a knight, Westley still takes on the classic role as “knight-in-shining –armor,” holding Princess Buttercup in his arms after later fighting against her captors and rescuing her from evil. He exudes chivalry in the name of love.
Now, imagine your current world. Do you see Westleys on your college campus? Has a man ever uttered “as you wish” as he swept you off your feet? Does chivalry still exist today?
First, one must define chivalry succinctly. In a word, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines chivalry as “the system of values (such as loyalty and honor) that knights in the Middle Ages were expected to follow” and as “an honorable and polite way of behaving especially toward women.”
So, does chivalry still exist today?
Collegiate women ask themselves this question every day. Arguably, men must begin to answer this question head-on with confidence. The answer, in my opinion, is simple: chivalry may continue to exist should women and men collectively agree to let it exist.
What does this mean? Men must choose today to honor women, honor women through respect for their bodies, emotions, careers, and livelihoods. No doubt, though different, women and men both possess the potential to pursue exciting adventures and careers once thought to be impossible to achieve; men and women must grow in today’s world to fully respect these possibilities. On the same token, women must equally respect their male counterparts. As soon as both genders begin to respect each other mutually with dignity and purity, chivalry may blossom once again across nationwide divides.
Interestingly, women, too, hold the power to reignite chivalry in the 21st Century in a particular way: women must once again hold themselves to a higher level of respect. Women must refuse to accept the hookup culture as their mandated destinies. Women must choose to accept love they deserve, a love filled with truthful honesty, ultimate caring, and beautiful compassion.
Unquestionably, this debate over chivalry will continue far into this decade and beyond. However, as the years progress, men and women may make strides to solidify chivalry’s fate by practicing mutual respect and refusing to fall victim to a culture of hookups and heartaches.