I recall the days of old when most young men followed rules for being what we then called gentlemen. They opened doors for ladies, walked on the right side of women near the curb, pulled out chairs at tables, helped women into cars. While all of these things were nice they are not the most important aspect of being a gentleman in my mind. For me, a true gentleman is someone who demonstrates respect for all people. A gentleman encourages women to reach for their desired goals without limits.
I happen to be married to a man whom I think of as a gentleman. He is willing to openly cry and show his emotions. He supports gay marriage because he believes that we should always be happy to see more love in our often uncaring world. He is proud to be the father of two strong women and he always supported me in my efforts to become educated and successful in my work. He listens with interest to what I have to say even when he does not totally agree with my ideas. He believes in treasuring every human and sincerely likes people. He has a generous and inclusive heart.
While I eschewed all the little niceties of old style chivalry years ago my gentleman husband still considers it his duty to be certain that I am safe and secure. We are a team that works together in a spirit of kindness and love. We compliment each other in the ways we do things but also give each other the freedom to soar. He has celebrated all of my accomplishments without any sign of envy.
I shudder when I see a man sucking the oxygen out of a room, demanding to be the center of attention. I abhor boastful men, bullies who make a joke of the appearances of women. I prefer my very gentle husband who sees people for what is in their hearts. He is loyal and trustworthy to the nth degree.
Women have told me that they are afraid to become more educated than their husbands or to earn more money. Some have meekly adopted the political views of their husbands rather than studying issues and thinking for themselves. Others tell me that they simply give in whenever arguments ensue because the men in their lives insist on being right. Luckily I have never had to endure such limitations.
I only have one granddaughter and I am happy to see that she has no trouble asserting herself. She is a leader by nature and inclined to speak her mind. I cheer her because I think that too often in the history of the world women have had to accept an inferior role to men. Some people see that as a godly traditional role that is to be desired. I see it as a belief that women are somehow inferior to men, a myth that has stalked us for far too long.
Both of my grandmothers were tiny women but their hearts were bold and strong. Grandma Mary sailed across the Atlantic alone to find a new life in America. She left behind everyone and everything that she had ever known. I can’t think of anyone I know who is more adventurous than that. My Grandma Minnie was a young widow who had to make her way with her daughter by hiring out as a cook in a boarding house. She eventually met my grandfather and remarried but her spunkiness never waned. She could hunt and fish with the best men and she was fearless when it came to fording a swollen river during a flood. I come naturally by my independent ways and I handed them down to my daughters who in turn have taught their sons and the one daughter to respect the intellect and dignity of women.
My father-n-law is somewhat quaint. He still insists on holding doors for me and making sure that I enter a room before he does. He treasured his two wives and diligently cared for them through illnesses and surgeries. His every thought was for their comfort. I suppose that my husband learned from him but when all is said and done it was his mother who made him so great. She insisted that he show the utmost respect for all women. His encouragement and support followed him to work where the women hailed him as one of the best bosses they ever had.
I hope that my grandsons will follow the example of their grandfather, my husband. If they treat the people they meet with the same level of respectful behavior they will find true and healthy partnerships whether at work or in matters of love. When speaking of gentlemanly behavior key words are trust, honesty, encouragement, respect, appreciation and gentleness. Men with those qualities are treasures. Men like that are strong.