The Oppression of the Gentleman

I have a confession to make to you, dear Minaret readers. In this age of feminist theory and equal rights for women, I could easily be marked as a traitor: I like the nice guys, the guys who practice modern-day chivalry. I know, I am a horrible disgrace to womankind. I have the audacity to think that yelling about sexism in a crowded restaurant when a man pulls my chair out for me is not only uncomfortale, it’s even unnecessary.

So here I am, champion of the nice guys in the days when women seem to find the drunken most-likely-to-wind-up-in-prison delinquent so superior. I call this phenomenon the “oppression of the gentleman.” The definition of this poor, underappreciated gentleman is not the same as the one used in classic literature books, nor is it the same as what the signs on Dale Mabry boasting “gentleman’s clubs” implies. Instead, a gentleman of today is one who treats a woman with respect. They are not men whose sole purpose in life is to connive ways to secretly check out a girl’s chest. Nor are they men who swagger around campus proclaiming the number of women they’ve deflowered. No, these are the men who would rather make a woman smile with an innocent compliment than compose a racy come-on intended to turn a woman’s face red.

You may think that these are rather obvious exceptions to the qualifications for a gentleman. But still, we women, we don’t seem to understand that we shouldn’t go for the jerk who fits all of those nasty little exemptions. To make this clearer, girls, I’d like you to do the following exercise with me. Please raise your hand if your answer is yes to the following questions. One: Have you spent multiple nights with a box of Kleenex and a sappy DVD crying over a guy you thought was perfect? Two: Have you asked yourself why you always are drawn to the wrong guys? Three: Do you find that you are unable to maintain a relationship with a man for more than a month? If you answered yes to all of the following, perhaps you’re one of the women who participate in the “oppression of the gentleman.”

But, how can you find a true gentleman in this abyss of dating? How will you ever know for certain whether or not a man is worth your time? I’m sorry to say that there’s no way to know anything for certain. In the game of courtship, for a game it truly is, there are no absolutes. Jane Austen, maven of the nineteenth century novel of manners, once said “I cannot think well of a man who sports with any woman’s feelings; and there may often be a great deal more suffered than a stander-by can judge of.” That’s one of the ways I think you can tell if a man is one of the nice guys I speak so highly of-if his words, his actions, do not indicate that he finds it amusing to manipulate a woman’s feelings. Look at the men you know around you: Do they open the door for you? Do they run out in the rain to get the car for you so you don’t have to get wet? Do they treat you with respect and kindness? Men who do these things are usually gentlemen.

And for the women who still are tittering about how such acts are not a perpetuation of equal rights and so forth, I know. I understand your view. But I urge you, please, pick your battles-why would you want someone to not be polite to you? The decline in the etiquette that used to make up some of courtship does not mean that we as women are gaining more rights. You have every right to scream “sexist!” in a crowded restaurant if it’s for something that is truly disrespectful-I’ll full-heartedly holler accusations with you. But give the nice guys a chance-you might find that their modern day chivalry makes you feel wonderful. I certainly have.

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