Historically, chivalry was seen as an integral, and indispensable, feature of the British 'gentleman'. Throughout history and literature, flawless manners and polite masculinity were the defining characteristics of the British gent.
Today, however, men face the tricky challenge of adapting traditional gestures to fit in with modern Britain's more relaxed ways.
Chivalry may be the courteous behaviour of a man towards a woman, but when is it out-dated and patronising, and when is it appropriate and well-mannered?
is all about the natural gesture, striking a balance between
treating a woman like a lady, but respecting her
Men holding doors open for women is still a chivalrous gesture, even in our less-gallant times. If, however, a woman arrives at the door first and starts to open it, a man shouldn't awkwardly rush in front of her with grand exclamations of "I'll get that!". Both genders should hold doors open (and check) for people coming through behind them
Traditionally, it was considered polite for a man to walk on the kerbside of the street. If, however, a woman naturally falls in step on the kerbside and seems comfortable with it, then it would be clumsy for him to start dodging around her to try and walk on the outside.
A man should stand up to greet a woman when she enters the room for the first time. There is no need, however, for him to be like a jack-in-the-box every time she goes to the loo, goes to get a drink and so on.
The modern British man should aim for appropriate gestures that come instinctively, rather than contrived behaviour that feels out-dated and oppressive. The battle of the sexes is over and modern Britain is an egalitarian society - but there is always a time and place for good manners.