Has the Gender Equality Movement Killed Old-Fashioned Chivalry?

Gender equality has become an overdue buzz term over the past few years, making its way into everything from newspaper headlines and dinner table conversations to the legal system.

After all, as proud feminist Justin Trudeau reminds us, “it’s 2016.”

For most pavement-pounding females, this is a very good thing. We collectively say “hell, no” to the lingering gender pay gap, and take pride in paying for everything from property (or rent) and bills to our vacations all by ourselves, thank you very much.

But when it comes to the impact of the gender equality movement on romance and heterosexual dating, many single females aren’t as enthused as they find themselves reaching for their wallet more often than they’re used to (or would like to) on first dates. It seems as though the gender equality movement may be eroding good, old-fashioned male chivalry.

At least, that’s what a lot Toronto’s single ladies are saying (don’t shoot the messenger).

In recent dialogue, many of Toronto’s fabulous single females say that it’s a huge turn-off when a guy doesn’t offer to pay on a first date, suggests splitting the bill, or forgoes things like opening car doors and waiting for the lady to order first. For some, it’s a major deal-breaker when it comes to a second date.

To be clear, it isn’t necessarily about the money, but rather the lack of gentlemanly behaviour that most late 20 and 30-something females grew up with. At a time when traditional, organic courtship and dating seems to have disappeared, the notion of chivalry is one of the few remaining elements of old-school romance that we can find comfort in.

Of course, the digital age of dating and our resulting “hookup culture” has killed romance in general, in my opinion. And, admittedly, we can’t blame guys for their less-than-gentlemanly behaviour – in our age of political correctness, he may assume that pulling out her chair or reaching for the bill may offend the strong, independent female sitting across from him.

To be fair, for some females it could indeed.

Though it may seem like a double standard to some, the gender equality movement is not an excuse to forgo chivalry. There’s a way to be chivalrous and treat us like ladies without being all 1950s about it. There’s also a way to do it without making us feel like helpless, delicate little flowers who expect to be treated like royalty.

In today’s dating scene, a chivalrous guy is a refreshing rarity. To me, chivalrous acts (usually) reveal a man who is caring, sensitive, and authentic. It’s not that I’m not capable of opening the door for myself, grabbing my own coat, or picking up the tab – it’s just nice when the guy does. Especially on a first date.

When I refer to chivalry, I am referring exclusively in context of the courtship phase. Once you’re in a relationship, it’s expected that things like housing bills, dinner tabs, and vacation costs are often split down the centre, especially if the two of you are in a similar financial bracket. Gone are the days of young attractive urban females with lofty goals of marrying rich and being taken care of for life (frankly, it’s embarrassing to think that way).

As an old-fashioned romantic, I definitely notice and appreciate acts of chivalry (and I also notice a lack thereof). Frankly, I expect a degree of it – but that’s also because that’s what I’ve been used since high school. Younger female millennials who didn’t grow up with it may very well have a different opinion.

Call me historic or unprogressive, but sorry – I don’t feel bad about it at all.