He also pays for his own dinners

Is the ‘new chivalry’ movement the fix for the problem of the cheap, self-centred modern male?



It was Marshall Field, the American department store tycoon, who said, “Give the lady what she wants.” Field died in 1906. His request has since become a progressively hollower ghost of itself. In its place is a new refrain, “Chivalry is dead,” uttered predominantly by women fed up with inconsiderate men and men fed up with demanding women. “If she pays her own rent,” a man might ask, contemplating a dinner date that turned sour after the cheque arrived, “why should I pay for her spaghetti?”

Enter the “new chivalry movement,” a growing online community of men who advocate not only buying a woman spaghetti, but pulling out her chair, and standing when she leaves the table. One of the movement’s de facto leaders is a 28-year-old marketing grad from Boston named James Michael Sama, who looks like a mature Backstreet Boy (his hair is gelled upright, resembling freshly cut grass and he wears a silver chain). A self-proclaimed “modern gentleman,” Sama contends chivalry and feminism can coexist; women deserve equal pay and opportunity, he argues, but men on a first date should “under no circumstances” split the bill. “A respectful woman will offer to pay half,” he writes on his blog. However, he continues, “This is out of courtesy and should never be taken seriously.”

Whether sexist drivel or common sense, this brand of old-school gentleman meets New Age nice guy—a common theme on websites sites like The Good Men Project and Elite Daily—is suddenly massively popular. Sama’s blog, less than a year old, has garnered more than 18 million hits in a matter of months.

Edward Toton, a 41-year-old IT educator from Leesburg, Va. (he goes by “Sir Edward” online) is the founder and administrator of ModernChivalry.org, a forum of “several hundred” chivalry enthusiasts who discuss everything from medieval weaponry to manners. Toton’s chivalry is more progressive than Sama’s; he admits he always offers to pay on a first date, but doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with splitting the bill. Both, however, are in agreement that, when it comes to common decency, a lot of men have lost their way.

Toton isn’t surprised by survey results (commissioned by insurance company AXA) showing only one in seven men would offer their seat to a woman on a train or bus. According to research by a British company, a woman is 12 per cent more likely than a man to greet a stranger and seven per cent more likely to hold a door open for one. Men are taught that good manners are irrelevant to success, Toton argues. “There has been less emphasis on dressing nice, speaking eloquently and just being gentlemanly.” One look at today’s titans of commerce—Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Brothers—suggests his theory isn’t without merit. Online dating doesn’t help; in the age of the ubiquitous “dick pic,” a random act of chivalry seems revolutionary.

Perhaps too revolutionary. Jenn Rose, a writer at In the Powder Room, refers to the new chivalry movement as “misogyny wrapped up in a pretty little bow.” She’s not the only feminist commentator to see it that way. But women are unwrapping the bow with apparent glee. Sama’s following is 75 per cent female, and mostly quite positive. He says he gives relationship advice to his readers, and has even helped some leave abusive boyfriends.

Toton believes the popularity of Sama’s blog reflects a male manners chasm in modern life. When American suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the axiom “men their rights and nothing more, women their rights and nothing less,” it’s likely they saw basic women’s rights as a metaphorical floor, not a ceiling. It’s unlikely they anticipated a gender-equal world void of gentlemen—and manners. Toton’s hope is that both men and women will realize equality doesn’t mean poor etiquette, and that these romantic gestures, once loaded with sexism, are now benign—common courtesy. In his words: “I’m not holding the door open for you because you need me to. I’m holding the door for you because I’m not an asshole.”


He also pays for his own dinners

  1. Holding the door is something I do for everyone. It has nothing to do with chivalry.

  2. Oh fer….if you invite someone to dinner, then you pay for it ,,,,no matter what the gender.

    If someone has their arms full and you don’t….open the door for them….no matter what the gender.

    How hard can this be folks?

    • It’s not hard, so why is it that more girls don’t hold doors?

      • According to the article, they do so 7% more often than men. I usually hold it for whoever is coming behind me – and find that others often do the same. Can’t say I noticed any distinct difference between the sexes in this regard.

    • Too bad women never ask out men because there is zero pressure for them to approach.

      A woman walks into a bar and proclaims “I am a slut” and sits at a table. Her night consists of men lining up to talk to her, buy her drinks, and dance with her. She has her pick of the litter.

      A man walks into a bar and proclaims “I am a player” and sits at a table. He sits alone after being laughed at for the whole night.

  3. So how do we fix the problem of the cheap, self-centred modern female?
    Or is it that only male’s can be a problem these days?

  4. Suddenly common sense etiquette is chivalry?

  5. Holding doors has nothing to do with chivalry, unless your going out of your way to do it for someone perfectly capable of doing it for themselves, which is rather pathetic.

    While women do offer to pay for half of dates in most instances, they don’t really mean it and are relieved when they don’t have to pay. Further, if he were to take her up on her offer, she would think less of him. It’s not necessarily chivalry, but rather dating strategy and recognition that women don’t actually want equality.

  6. The most generous and helpful thing a man can do for a woman on an individual level is to hold her accountable – no letting her off because she’s female.

    If traditional expressions of chivalry are important to women, let women do them. My girlfriend brought me flowers last night because I had a bad day. Fine. I’ll cook her dinner sometime.

    Listen men, chivalry backfires. If you pay for the first date you’re losing a valuable opportunity to screen out the women who will see you as nothing but an ATM machine. And there’s no such thing as paying for a first date anyway. When you pay for a first date, you’re making it cheaper for her to go on another date with somebody else. You’re just subsidizing her search for the perfect man. Do yourself a favor and make women chip in for their quest for Mr. Right.

    And men, while we’re on the subject of chivalry, remember you’re not a human punching bag. Make it very clear at the beginning of the relationship: if she ever hits you, screams at you, or calls you names, or tries to humiliate you in front of your friends, or destroys any of your property on purpose, or tries to use sex as a bargaining chip, that’s the end of the relationship, right then, right there. No questions asked. No looking back. Just walk away.

    Don’t let your sense of chivalry turn you into a victim. You’re better than that.

    • Fatherless:
      I’ll bet you’re mateless as well.

      • Selena61 must have a low opinion of women to think there are none who prefer to be treated like mature adults.

      • This comment has been removed.

    • No. But yes to the second last paragraph. All of it ought to be able to go without saying. If it needs saying, however, then say it.

      • Toxic women will use a man’s level of chivalry as a barometer for how easily manipulated he is. And men, particularly young men, need to hear this and be on the lookout for it. The best way for men to avoid identifying themselves as a mark is to abandon chivalry.

  7. Its real easy to call men cheap when you have a vagina and are not expected to pay.

  8. “I’m holding the door for you because *I aspire to be courteous and kind by helping people*

  9. I offer my seat to pregnant women or the elderly or disabled of either gender. No, I would not think of offering it up to a woman just because she’s a woman. That $hit went out the door decades ago and for very good reasons.

  10. “The good men project”…. lol Like this lap dog and pony show, A feminist website centered around telling men, being a ‘good man’ is all about your servitude to women… Yes, be a good doggy!! at’a boy!!

  11. What makes a man cheap? Not wanting to pay a woman’s way? If that is so, what does that make a woman who is upset or loses interest in him because he does not want to pay?

  12. Wow! reading the comments and it doesn’t surprise me that most of the men that commented are very angry – what kind of women are you going out with?? There are lots of women out there that are kind and generous and looking for someone that will do the same…

Sign in to comment.