In today’s society, knights in shining armor rescuing princesses or damsels in distress are pretty rare. These sweeping acts of valiance and daring were the basis of the concept of chivalry, but now they have vanished. So does that mean that chivalry and romance are dead? Or is the look of chivalry in the 21st century simply changing?
Chivalry had its high point during medieval times, when knights and lords rode out and beat highway robbers to save beautiful maidens or princesses. Chivalry was not only based on being a strong warrior but also emphasized respect toward women.
Today, with no need to ride ahead on horses to slay robbers, chivalry is hard to come by, according Kelsey Koblitz, junior in psychology and family studies.
“I come from a small town, and a lot of our guys weren’t nice,” Koblitz said. “Coming to here from that, I just think that no one else is going to be nice. It depends on where you’re at, too. I know in the South, people are pretty cool, but chivalry is definitely dead here in Kansas.”
Not all students have given up on the hope of common chivalry.
“It’s dead in some places, but in others you get doors opened and that sort of stuff,” said Heidi Hilton, junior in finance. “I see that a lot more around here.”
For Skylar James, vice president of the Sigma Pi fraternity and senior in engineering, chivalry is very much alive. It is one of Sigma Pi’s promoted attributes.
“Chivalry means not how a man treats not just a woman, but everyone in his life,” James said. “The typical thing is to open doors, not just for women, but also men.”
For James and other members of Sigma Pi, this level of common courtesy extends throughout everyday life, including in sports.
“In intramural sports, we say congratulations to the other teams, even if we win or lose,” James said.
For James, chivalry is something that is passed down through the generations.
“I don’t think chivalry is dead because it’s taught by everyone’s parents,” James said. “It’s how to sit at the table, to open doors for people and how to greet everyone. You shouldn’t be chivalrous just to impress someone, but for the common good of people.”
Just as the arrival of new technology changed medieval sword fights, media has changed how people perceive what is considered romantic.
“I think the media has hit chivalry,” Koblitz said. “Guys see movies where guys don’t treat girls like they should. They don’t see movies where the guy treats the girl right.”
Ronald Ross, senior in American ethnic studies, recently took a note from a romantic movie by taking his girlfriend out for dinner on a special date.
“We went to the plaza and had a candlelit dinner,” Ross said. “I opened her car door, and gave her a rose as she got out. I told her she could order anything off the menu. I just wanted to make sure she was comfortable and enjoying herself.”
The key to any successful relationship, whether it is romantic or platonic, is much simpler, said Dorinda Lambert, director of K-State Counseling Services.
“Having respect and courtesy is important, especially for a romantic relationship,” Lambert said. “Communication is very important in the foundation of a healthy relationship.”