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Teaching Boys to Be Chivalrous

Chivalry's Not Dead . . . Yet — But Should It Be?

To this day, I can still hear Marlo Thomas's shrill voice shouting "ladies first" on my well-worn Free to Be You and Me cassette tape (it was the '80s, after all). In the Shel Silverstein poem, little Pamela Purse makes her way to the front of every line simply by reminding everyone that girls go first — ultimately to her demise when she insists on going first into the jaws of a carnivorous animal.

Though older generations like to tell us that chivalry is dead, it seems that isn't quite the case. In a recent post on The New York Times's Motherlode blog, Lynn Messina wrote about her disappointment regarding her preschool son being taught "gentlemanly behavior" and being told to let his female classmates use the restroom first. She argues that in teaching chivalry, young boys are being told to treat girls differently. On the Today show this week, the hosts discussed their appreciation of the concept of chivalry, while a psychologist suggested that we really should be teaching kids to treat everyone the same way — with respect.

The conversation got us thinking: should we still be teaching little boys to hold the door for girls?

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