Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gentlemen.... a dying breed?

It is no secret that gentlemen are becoming harder and harder to come by in our culture. I'm not saying that there aren't any in the world, I am simply pointing out that you don't see them as often anymore.

I was walking into a store recently and noticed that there was a man only a few steps ahead of me going into the same store. As we reached the doors, me within 2 feet of him now, I expected to at least get the courtesy of him holding the door open long enough for me to get to it and grab it myself. I was wrong. He was in the store and that door closed so quickly you would have thought he pulled it shut behind him to keep me out. I was shocked! I didn't expect the formal, hold the door open and step back to allow me in ahead of him and bow to me or anything, just that he would push it open far enough that I could get to it (covering the 2 steps that I trailed him) and hold it open for myself.

I often wonder what it must have been like to live in the era where women were cared for and men were careful to watch out for the women around them. I'm not asking for an armed escort to lead me through my life (though sometimes it would be nice!) And I am definitely not the kind of woman who can't fend for myself and kick some butt if I ever need to either. In fact, my mother once told me that when I was younger and out somewhere by myself, she was never too worried about a man trying to kidnap me because he would regret ever messing with me.

I help out with a youth ministry in the evenings and we have a bus ministry that picks kids up and drops them back off at home at the end of the night. Most nights the bus doesn't get back until well after 9:30 p.m. and in Michigan in October, it gets dark well before that. I was asked to take the bus keys back into the church after they got back. I was surprised when they got back and all the men on the buses were getting in their cars to leave, leaving me to walk back into a dark building, put the keys away, and then walk out into the darkness to my car by myself. And these are not jerks, these are, in my opinion, great men of God. I had to ask one of those men if he wouldn't mind waiting for me to do what I had to do so I wasn't alone. Then I think it clicked with all of them what they had been about to do, some of them even walked into the building with me after that!

I have heard it said that the reason men don't hold doors or offer up their seat to a woman on a bus anymore is because we, as women, have proven to them that we don't need them to do those things. We have told them, through our actions and attitudes, that we don't need them. And we let them get away with it! I will admit I am guilty of this too. I have made it clear to men that I don't need them. But now I am realizing what I am letting them do. I am allowing them to be self-centered and lazy. Not anymore!

While I enjoy my right to vote, couldn't the feminist movement have stopped there? Or maybe when we were allowed to work and make as much as men if we so choose, but that is far enough. Men know we are fully capable of doing things for ourselves, but they kind of think women are great, so they want to do something nice for us. It is a proven fact that a woman could live her entire life without a man. And it is also a proven fact that many men could not. And with sperm banks popping up all over, women can now have a baby without so much as physical contact with a man. I say all of that to make the point that men know how valuable we are to them, let them express it now and then!

It's like opening a pickle jar. Most of us are fully capable of opening a pickle jar for ourselves, but if your man is in the room, why not give him the satisfaction of opening it for you? He feels needed and masculine and all that, but it didn't cost you anything. And if he's not in the room, just open it yourself! It's a win, win situation!
I have been very blessed to know some amazing men of God who take being a gentleman seriously. And I watch them teaching younger boys to be gentlemen and it is so great to see! If I am carrying something that even looks remotely heavy, one of them will grab one of the boys and send them to take it from me and carry it where ever I need it to go. I think it's great!

But what comes with being treated well by a true gentleman is acting like a lady. Women strive to be more like men now and look back at the women of the '50s as if they were oppressed in some way. The way I see it, they were treated like queens and their actions lived up to that treatment. One such woman that I can think of that truly personifies this assumption is my great-grandmother. While I was only 6 when my great-grandfather passed away, I have heard so much about him that I know he was a great gentleman. She talked so fondly of him up until the day that she too died that I have always prayed that I would one day marry a man like him, and hopefully have sons that will be raised to be a gentleman too.

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