do gentlemen still exist, and do we need them?
I was having a discussion with a co-worker earlier about what kind of man would be considered a gentleman. In Victorian times it was a title associated with nobility (wealth and social position), and “It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say he is one who never inflicts pain.” Nowadays we use the term to describe men who conduct themselves with “noble-like” behaviour, attitude and etiquette, regardless of income or social status. I mentioned to my co-worker that these qualities can be rare traits to find these days. He responded that acting like a gentleman all the time can be difficult, and that peer pressure has a big influence on people’s behaviour, dependent on the environment and the company at any particular time.
Then there’s the feminist argument. In the 1970s when the feminist movement really exploded, “Women did not want men to open doors for them…for the women could open their own doors and did not want to seem helpless. Women did not want men to tell them they’re beautiful…for women had an intelligent mind as well and wanted to be viewed as a smart (or smarter) counterpart and be known for their mind and not their beauty. Women would not allow the man to pay their way on a date…for women wanted to be liberal and pay for their own way. Besides, if you allowed a man to pay your way you would be subjecting yourself to his beck and call.”
Dating etiquette aside, the downfall of the gentleman has also meant the downfall of common decency (both in men and women). What happened to “never inflicting pain”? When road rage, street fights and domestic violence are so common, and basic manners in a daily setting are often non-existent, is this simply a sign of the times?