Where did all the gentlemen go?
It’s a question that seems to pop up ever few years or so as a new generation comes to age and starts to make their own rules when it comes to manners and social norms.
While every older generation has a tendency to tut-tut the young for their behaviour there seems to have been a major shift in the past 40 to 50 years over what is polite and what isn’t.
Common courtesy and manners seem to have gone out the door across as men let the traditions of the past slip by and embrace more of a ‘get the door yourself, love’ attitude.
While the act of manners and politeness has changed across the board for both men and women of late, it is arguably more noticeable in men due to old customs which saw them opening doors, pulling out chairs and serving their lady first, amongst other things, without even hesitating.
The change in attitude could be due to the huge shift in the way men and women are perceived in movies and television shows.
In 1965 the highest grossing film was ‘The Sound of Music’ – a movie where Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp woos the Baroness Schraeder and, and later Julie Andrew’s Maria, with music, dancing and the love of his children.
Fast forward 45 years and one of the highest grossing romantic comedies is ‘Knocked Up’ – a film about a man and woman who have a drunken one night stand and have to deal with the resulting pregnancy and their friends and family who regularly get drunk and smoke marijuana.
The problem here is that movies and entrainment have a huge influence on the way society behaves.
Young people emulate their idols and when they see people they admire making crude jokes about women and treating them with contempt they often start to behave the same way.
Remember when movies had starring actors like Bing Crosby and Gene Kelly?
When the icons of the day were rat pack members like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, men who were undoubtably sometimes scoundrels, but who always managed to make it look cool to pull out a lady’s chair, pick her up for dinner, or even light her cigarette.
The fact that these men were superstars made it seem cool for other men to act the same way.
The other side of the argument of course is that women have fought to be treated more equally over the past few decades.
They no longer want to be treated as the poor innocent types they were betrayed as for so long – and rightly so, too.
But does this mean they forfeit the option to be treated like a ‘lady’?
Some would say yes.
Discussing the topic in a forum on City-data.com a number of commenters said you can’t have the best of both world when it comes to expecting men to play polite for you.
“Woman want to be treated as equals but then they get upset when a man doesn’t pull out her chair.
“You can’t have it both ways. If you really want to be treated as equals you should start pulling out chairs for men instead.”
Others though said it’s not about showering a woman with niceties, it’s just about showing some manners in general and taking on some of the politeness that used to be so common.
“I know kids who don’t even know how to shake someone’s hand properly. They don’t understand the simple greeting which is a universal symbol when it comes to manners.
“I’ve seen guys push in front of girls in lines, call them all kinds of rude names, and ogle them from behind. I miss the old days.”
Whatever the reason, there has undoubtable been a shift in the way men and women interact what constitutes being a ‘gentlemen’ these days.