In a society which doesn’t seem to talk too much about what I would call “common” courtesy, respect and good manners it is quite important to broaden the conversation and highlight the importance of these things.
I was so happy when I stumbled on this blog site as many of the sentiments which I had been talking about on my Today’s Gentleman site resonated with Clare’s articles here. This also reignited a point for me which had come up in numerous conversations; how does a lady or a gentleman maintain their standards of behaviour when they are surrounded by people who don’t appreciate or respect it?
To be gentleman of respect and courtesy or a lady of grace and poise quite often we have to rise above the accepted standards that surround us. It is a wicked descent into the excuse culture if we all acted according to the minimum standard we see in society.
As an example, I have heard many men say that they shouldn’t bother giving their bus seat up for someone who needs it more, or hold the door for the next person. They hold this belief not because they don’t think it is the right thing to do, but because they think it is a thankless action, that is not appreciated and wouldn’t be reciprocated. They also get particularly defensive when that other person is a woman, and comments like, “women wanted equal rights” abound.
On the other hand, some men who genuinely feel it is the right thing to do have given up such acts of chivalry due to past bad experiences with women rudely refusing their kind gestures. I am not sure at what point a kind gesture could be construed as an insult which was trying to belittle a whole gender, but that has been a common theme to the feedback many men are receiving.
I like to believe that men, particularly those involved in Today’s Gentleman, want to show genuine courtesy to those around them, particularly ladies, but social attitudes sometimes erode this intent. It is hard to be a gentleman when there are no ladies around to appreciate it, and I am sure the reverse is also true.
I firmly believe two things:
A gentleman can display acts of kindness, courtesy and respect to a lady without their being any ill intent or overtones of treating anyone as “less able”
A lady can accept kind gestures from gentlemen with grace and poise, celebrating their femininity without surrendering any of their power or independence
I think it is our duty to society and we owe it to ourselves to rise above those attitudes and beliefs that negatively influence acceptable behaviour. We all have the power to be a positive example in the communities in which we live and work by simply respecting ourselves and others.