Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Is Chivalry Still Alive?

My dictionary describes chivalrous as ‘graciously courteous and considerate, esp. to women’, and ‘having the characteristics of a knight, e.g. valor or gallantry’. Kinda makes me warm and tingly all over.
Chivalry is still very much alive in my personal life. I strongly believe that chivalry boils down to a simple principle. People (in this case, the men in our lives) will treat us the way we expect to be treated. Call me old-fashioned, but why would I waste my time with a man who doesn’t respect me as a woman? It goes both ways, of course. I wouldn’t choose a man I don’t respect.
A lot is written about young people these days...teenagers in particular. But as with any controversial topic, we’re told about the instances that make us raise our eyebrows, but not about the growing number of young people who respect themselves enough to demand the same from their peers. I’ve seen it among the young people in my small town, and I salute them for that.
Perhaps chivalry has been in the forefront of my mind recently because of being a romance author. I write contemporary romance, but it doesn’t matter if the romance is set in a futuristic colony somewhere in space, or in Regency England, a man who is considerate to women has a strong appeal. Is the ‘bad boy’ appealing? To many, yes. But that’s what’s so great about being an author. We can take someone perceived as being the classic bad boy and either show his transformation, or reveal that he’s not bad after all.
As I think back on the many heroes I’ve written, I realize that they’re a varied bunch. They have different backgrounds, different goals, and different motivations. But one thing remains: they are strong men who know who they are. To use a slightly overused expression, they’re comfortable in their own skin. And yes, they’re often a bit larger than life. But after all, this is romance.
Please don’t ask me to write about men who inflict pain on the women they’re supposed to care for. Don’t ask me to write about a man who cares about his own pleasure more than his partner’s. Don’t ask me to write about a man who uses his position of authority to subject a woman to degradation. There are plenty of other people doing that, but count me out.
Give me a chivalrous man any day. Trust me, they’re the best kind!

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