Princeton student Penina Krieger makes a brilliant case for preserving chivalry in The Princeton Tory.

…The reason for chivalry cannot simply be women’s need to have someone help them with the odious task of opening the door; if this were the reason for the tradition, an automatic door would do just as well, if not better, as an automatic door is often faster and more reliable than a person in opening doors.

….I think it’s safe to assume that every time a man opens a door for a woman, he isn’t thinking that she is incapable of exerting the amount of effort required to open the door. He is showing her respect and recognition. In fact, it is customary to open doors for those whom we respect, such as professors, dignitaries, and the like. By opening the door, men are simply displaying their respect for women. Of course, it is important to show respect and recognition to everyone, but it stands to reason that one should actively seek to display respect to those who might not feel respected. In general, it is important to be more proactive in showing respect to those who are not like you, since they may be more doubtful of being respected by you. Thus it makes sense that men needed to display their respect for women since women have felt that men viewed them as inferior.

Today, chivalry is a necessary virtue precisely because it is so controversial. Clearly, there was and still is a source of contention among women about whether men respect them; there is still some level of insecurity among women. Men need to be proactive in their displays of respect towards women because it is questioned whether they truly respect them. In other words, the very opposition to chivalry proves its necessity even in our times. The fact that chivalry is often misconstrued as a disrespectful treatment of women means that women are not sufficiently convinced that they are respected; thus, the reason for having chivalry still exists and reinforces the need for chivalry in our society.

As long as women need confirmation that they are respected, chivalry is important. All of the practical applications of chivalry are simply external manifestations of an interior attitude of respect. So chivalry should live on, even if in the future all doors open by themselves, global warming renders the guy’s proffered jacket unnecessary, and cars drive themselves.