Though the term originated in reference to wealthy, educated, land-owning males, “gentleman” has come to more generally signify a man who is considerate, chivalrous, and well-mannered. You might think gentlemen have all but vanished off the face of the earth, a dying breed, a relic of a more polite, more honorable time. You’ll be happy to hear, however, that gentlemen do exist in this modern age. Gentlemen these days may not have the same code of conduct or mannerisms as days gone by, but the underlying ideals of politeness and respect remain the same. Here’s what being a gentlemen means in this brave new world of ours.
Basic Manners, Guys
This might sound silly and obvious, but practicing basic, common-knowledge manners is a fundamental tenet of being a gentleman, both in days gone by and in our modern world. There are the more simple rules, such as chewing with your mouth closed, not interrupting others when they speak, and shaking someone’s hand when you first meet them—all the stuff your mom nagged you about growing up. Then there’s the more abstract stuff, like communicating to others that you’re engaged and interested in what they’re saying, and being thoughtful and even anticipatory in regards to the needs and desires of those around you. Manners are all about communicating respect to the people you interact with, and by doling out respect you, in effect, become respectable yourself.
Treat Your Lady Right!
Now that you’ve got basic manners down, let’s move on to a more complex, yet infinitely rewarding, aspect of modern gentlemanliness: how to treat women. Just because women have gained legal and societal equality (for the most part) does not mean we don’t appreciate being treated nicely. Showing the women in your life respect, kindness, and thoughtfulness will, without fail, earn you major admiration and esteem. How exactly do you go about this? Bring the lady in your life some flowers, surprise her with some jewelry (if you don’t want to break the bank, shop around for some affordable diamond value), or plan an overnight trip to somewhere she’s been dying to go—you’re pretty much trying to figure out ways to show her you care about her and really do listen to what she has to say. Even small things, like opening the door for her or giving her your jacket if it’s cold, go a long way toward winning some major gentleman points.
Wear Your Feminism On Your Sleeve
An absolutely essential part of being a gentleman in today’s society is not only treating women right, but respecting their rights, their equality, and their status as a fellow human being as well. These days, women don’t want to be put up on a pedestal, they don’t want to be patronized, and they don’t want to be treated like a different species. So while it’s important to show the women in your life you care about them by doing nice things for them, it’s equally (if not more) important to communicate your utmost respect for women, their rights, and their abilities. This should, hopefully, not be too difficult, as it pretty much just entails treating women like human beings. You’d be surprised, however, how much it means to encounter pro-women males in a world where we’re still fighting against sexism in our everyday lives.
All of us, even the ladies, could handle being more polite, more thoughtful, and more progressive, so in a way being a gentleman is about striving to be a better human being. So get out there and make the world a little bit brighter with your gentlemanliness today!
About Author: Madeline Marshall is a writer and pro-humanity advocate living in Santa Cruz, CA.