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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?

2 thoughts on “do gentlemen still exist, and do we need them?

  1. I think there are definitely still some gentlemen around. Although the definition has changed because social “rules” are no longer so rigid.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with footing the bill or opening doors. In my opinion, a gentleman these days is simply a man who appreciates your mind, as well as your body. And who treats you with kindness and respect.

    Some disenchanted guys will argue that women don’t want “nice guys”, or that because of feminism they’re not “allowed” to do certain things. But I don’t think anyone, really, wants to be treated badly. I would much prefer a gentleman to a lout.

  2. there’s also the argument that women are becoming more rude towards men. i can’t remember where i read it but i remember an article reporting then the majority of women, if they do have a door opened for them, kept open for them or are allowed off an elevator first before the man, do not say thank you or even acknowledge the courtesy that has been shown to them.

    for me it’s not necessarily about being a gentleman. i don’t think it should have anything to do with gender at all. like you mentioned, michelle, it’s a downfall in common decency in men and women. it’s a give and take process. if we’re more courteous to each other, more aware of what’s going on around us and acknowledge those small acts of kindness a bit more then maybe we’ll see the amount of ‘gentlemen’ and ‘ladies’ increase.

    in short i think the whole thing really just has to do with common decency and treating everyone like human beings, whether they be male or female.

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