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NYT Room for Debate: Chivalry

August 6, 2013 | Karin

New York Times Room for Debate symposium recently focused on chivalry, “Resuscitating Chivalry: Should chivalry die, be brought back, or evolve into a more inclusive ethos that is appropriate for 2013?”  Here is the prompt:

When married politicians are sexting and some college kids are less interested in courtship, it’s easy to believe that chivalry is dead. Even pop star Miley Cyrus has proclaimed it so.

A 2010 Harris poll found that 80 percent of Americans think that women are treated with less chivalry today than in the past. Is it time for the once-romantic and noble concept to peter out, or should it evolve to be more inclusive for our liberated and cynical age?

What do you think?  Writer Emily Esfahani Smith makes the case for chivalry in her post, A Virtue We Should All Aspire To.  She cites the NeW Gentlemen’s Showcase:

Back in 2010, the brothers of Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity found themselves in the national spotlight for, you could say, behaving less than chivalrously. On a fall evening, blindfolded pledges paraded around Old Campus, an area where many females live, chanting, “No means yes, yes means anal!”

Ah yes, the boys of the Ivy League: gentlemen and scholars, all.

As this kind of boorish behavior seems increasingly common, many people are lamenting the death of chivalry. But chivalry is not dead yet. It’s just on life support. And slowly but surely, it is making a comeback. Ordinary people are seeing that chivalry contributes to healthy relationships. A recent study in the academic journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found that chivalry is associated with greater life satisfaction among men and women. An initiative called the Gentlemen’s Showcase, led by college women on campuses across the country for the past few years, rewards young men for helping out others in need. And perhaps most important, a major study of more than 10,000 people from around the world — one of the largest studies of its kind — found that the No. 1 attribute that both young men and women seek in a mate is not money or beauty or intelligence, but kindness, which lies at the heart of the chivalrous act.

I am glad to see Smith making the case for chivalry.  She argues that it is a virtue, the core of which we can celebrate whether practiced by men or women.  Read the rest of her post here.

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