Between “Incest Fest“, naked parties, and school publications that openly discuss the best places for being intimate, it is easy to believe that real romance and gallant behavior are extinct on college campuses.
Emily Esfahani Smith, associate editor at The New Criterion, has just written an in-depth piece in The Atlantic on how the concept of chivalry should be revived for the benefit of women. Her piece features the efforts of an Arizona State University group to honor gentleman and scholars.
Some women are trying to bring back chivalry. Since 2009, for instance, a group of women at Arizona State University have devoted themselves to resuscitating gentlemanly behavior and chivalry on a campus whose social life is overwhelmingly defined by partying, frat life, and casual sex. Every spring for the past three years, these women have gathered for the “Gentlemen’s Showcase” to honor men who have acted chivalrously by, for example, opening the door for a woman or digging a woman’s car out of several feet of snow.
The event has spread to campuses nationwide. Its goal is “to encourage mutual respect between the sexes,” Karin Agness tells me in an interview. Agness is the founder and president of the Network of Enlightened Women, the organization that hosts Gentlemen’s Showcases at colleges each spring.
“The current framework is not generating healthy relationships,” Blayne Bennett, the organizer of ASU’s first Gentlemen’s Showcase, has said. “I believe that chivalry provides the positive framework to maximize the overall happiness of men and women.”
Women, she said, “want to be treated like ladies.”
Bennett and her fellow chivalry advocates have the right idea. “If women give up on chivalry, it will be gone,” Sommers tells me. “If boys can get away with being boorish, they will, happily. Women will pay the price.”
If feminists want to level the playing field between men and women, they should find common cause with traditionalist women, like those at ASU, on the issue of chivalry. Both groups are concerned with how men treat women. They just differ in what that means: Feminists want men to treat women as equals; traditionalists want men to treat women like ladies. Are the two mutually exclusive?
Gentleman can be nominated for the honors via the groups Facebook page – Network of Enlightened Women.