If you have ever questioned whether chivalry was dead, you clearly have not visited the Midwest. While yes, most of us have heard of “Midwestern nice”, chivalry is just a little bit different. It is one thing for the cashier at the grocery store to ask you about your day and to seem sincerely interested, but it is an all together different phenomenon when a door is held for you by a young man below the age of 30.
I was raised in a household where “please” and “thank you” were required and beginning a request with “may” instead of “can” was imperative. On top of polite vocabulary, it was not uncommon for my mom to “encourage” me to hold the door open for any woman or man that was within a quarter mile from us at the mall, church or any place that didn’t have automatic doors. I was raised to be a polite young lady.
When I went off to college I began to notice that this “politeness” did not extend very often to those of the opposite sex between the ages of 18-22. In fact, it was not uncommon for me to be walking into a building behind a young man and have the door smash into me. While I pride myself on being an independent and liberated woman, I have it engrained in me that men should hold the door open for women. Who cares about car doors? Who needs help down or up stairs? Not me. I can do it myself. All I care about is having a door held open for me. Was I shocked? No. I figured men went through a phase during their teens and twenties where chivalry wasn’t exactly on their radar, kind of like good hygiene and green vegetables.
Then I moved to North Dakota. I didn’t think much about the chivalrous nature of the young male residents until today. As I was hurrying across campus, strategically cutting through buildings to avoid the morning chill, doors were held for me not once, not twice, but three times. Three. Seriously. And these were not elderly gentleman. These were the notoriously un-chivalrous 18-22 year olds. I began to reflect on this oddity searching for an explanation. Was it my seniority over them as a college instructor that intimidated them into door holding? No, that can’t be because unless you have witnessed with your own eyes my instruction, you would have a hard time believing I was over the age of 18 led alone old enough to teach. Was it my dazzling good looks that make men race towards the next door I am about to breeze through for a chance to hold it open for me? No, that is clearly not the case being that I was running late this morning and… well… lets just say my radiance was a little rough around the edges. In fact, it had nothing to do with me at all because I had seen this occur with other women throughout the state, young and old. The answer? Midwestern upbringing.
So to you parents that have taught your boys to hold open doors for ladies, I thank you. Chivalry is still alive an kicking in the young men of the Midwest.