Men’s Insights  

The lost art of being a gentleman

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What do men feel about about being a man in 2014? We asked two writers, Andrew Don and Anthony Hett, to share their views. Anthony thinks we’ve lost the art of being gentleman, while Andrew thinks men have become society’s underdogs. This is what Anthony has to say…

— This is article #11 in our series of #100Voices4Men and boys 

I am all for gender equality. I think that men and women should be paid the same wage for doing the same job and I think that the best person should get the top job not the best man. However, I do think that there is at least one way in which us men should treat women differently. I am of course talking about the lost art of being a gentleman.

I see it everywhere. Men don’t appear to know how to be a gentleman anymore. Men getting onto the tube first and sitting down, taking the only free seat so that their partner has to stand. Men letting their girlfriends carry heavy shopping bags or drag heavy suitcases when they have none.

Men making their partners feel uncomfortable with things that they say or do. Grabbing them inappropriately when it is clearly not ok to do so (know your girlfriend, know her boundaries). Men being inconsiderate and constantly putting their own needs first. Men attempting to do nice things but not knowing the woman they love well enough to know how to do it properly for her.

I know I sound very judgmental and things aren’t always so simplistic. I don’t know the individuals or possible mitigating circumstances involved, like a terrible upbringing or a chronic bad back. It’s just that I see it everywhere these days and I don’t like it one bit. Yes we need to make sure that woman are truly treated as our equals in society but let’s not use that as an excuse to stop being gentlemen.

The man I want to be

If I had a girlfriend I would no doubt be far from the perfect boyfriend. However, there are certain things that I would always do. I would always open doors for her (but walk into a room before her if walking in first makes her feel uncomfortable). I would carry her shopping bags and I would buy her flowers even on days when we haven’t had an argument (probably when they are reduced but still it’s the thought that counts) and I would stand between her and the traffic as we walk down the road.

I would let her sit down on the tube if there is only one seat and by the window on the bus so she can look out at the world flashing by. I would let her go to the toilet first if we both needed to go, I would give her foot massages at the end of each long day and I would sleep nearest the bedroom door (unless she tells me otherwise). I would give her all the white jelly beans (even though they are my favourites) and I would of course give her my last Rolo.

So men, how about we reach for the pickaxes and help women to smash that glass ceiling? Not because they are weak and need our help but because we are gentlemen and that’s what we do.

—Picture credit: Flickr/Martin SoulStealer

Anthony Hett is a poet and writer, you can read more of his work at and or follow him on twitter.

You can find all of the #100Voices4Men articles that will be published in the run up to International Men’s Day 2014 by clicking on this link—#100Voices4Men—and follow the discussion on twitter by searching for #100Voices4Men.

The views expressed in these articles are not the views of insideMAN editorial team. Whether you agree with the views expressed in this article or not we invite you to take take part in this important discussion, our only request is that you express yourself in a way that ensures everyone’s voice can be heard.

You can join the #100Voices4Men discussion by commenting below; by following us on Twitter @insideMANmag and Facebook or by emailing [email protected]

  • Darren Ball

    “Men…taking the only free seat so that their partner has to stand. Men letting their girlfriends carry heavy shopping bags or drag heavy suitcases when they have none.”
    I’m sorry Anthony but I don’t think I have ever seen a man behaving like this towards his female companion. It’s much more common for the man to be carrying everything while his partner ambles along with no sense of urgency. However, we could swap uncorroborated anecdotes all day and get nowhere.

    What really matters is your reinforcement of a patronising and paternal social attitude that, when extrapolated to its extremes, leads to the ambivalence we see towards men in general: saying it’s less important that a man gets a seat on the tube is only incrementally less offensive than saying it’s less important that a man gets a place to live, and so on.

    The reason that men have stopped surrendering their seats to female strangers is because feminists said it was patriarchal, and they were right. This hasn’t actually stopped all men doing it though; it’s just that they do it more subtly. I use the tube a lot and I have quietly observed men’s behaviour when women are standing. Quite a high proportion of men will manoeuvre themselves so they are not in a position to take a seat; they get up long before their stop and they’re rarely pushy.

    How gallant a man is within his relationship is a matter for the couple to decide: if you like acting like a latter day Sir Walter Raleigh and she likes you to show her affection in that way, then go for it (it’s a bit like my own relationship, to be honest). But there’s no reason why that should be a blueprint for everyone.

    • Anthony

      Thank you for your comment. “Uncorroborated anecdotes” haha of course there are plenty of men out there who are very nice to their partners but I wrote this after seeing a lot of young men on the tube who could benefit from thinking about themselves less and their partners more. This is meant as a light hearted article but I have seen all the things that I have stated above – or I wouldn’t have stated them. Also I don’t stand up for strangers on the tube unless they appear like they might need to sit down. This is not based on gender; except maybe when I stand up for a pregnant woman. And my views do not a “reinforcement of a patronising and paternal social attitude”. No view taken to the extreme can be a good thing but I’m simply talking about being nice to your partner by doing simple things like opening a door for her. After all it’s the small things that count – apparently.

      • Darren Ball

        Hi Anthony,
        In a population of over 60 million there will be all sorts of odd behaviour. The behaviour you describe of women walking down the road over-loaded with shopping whilst their male partners trape alongside them unencumbered, or seize the last tube seat leaving their female companions to stand, is behaviour that is noteworthy only because it is unusual. It is not, I opine, typical of heterosexual relationships.

        Chivalry and gallantry has always been one of the ways in which men were roused into doing dangerous things that they’d otherwise not have done, such as joining the First World War. The indoctrination starts young: you can’t just spring it on a young man to go and die in a ditch – you have to raise him that way, and that includes all the stuff you’ve been writing about.
        All that notwithstanding, there’s nothing wrong with having that sort of relationship with your own partner – that’s your joint business, and other peoples relationships are their business.

  • Nigel

    Anthony, you are clearly a charming man. I enjoyed your anecdotes. One day when you’ve grown up a bit you’ll realise that to have Gentlemen you have to have Ladies. You’re very sweet and I hope you find yours. I’m not sure where you live but if you come to the northwest of England you’ll find plenty.

  • Steve Rusch

    Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with bein’ the gentlemanly type. S’all good. Whatever floats yer boat. I like bein’ considerate, regardless.

    It was the lack of consideration comin’ my way on the big issues that burned me out o’the game.

    But that’s all a matter of personal choice. Has nuthin’ t’do with facts.

    Careful— that glass ceiling comment?— When you playin’ in the arena of facts, you wanna be DARN good’n sure you got ’em straight. It’s all in they heads, me boy. I wish I’d saved the link: a survey was done of women poised for that final, big promotion to the corporate board room or the executive suite, etc. Most of them didn’t want it. Too much like some sort of commitment. Too much like (more) work.

  • Steve Rusch

    And that finding neatly meshed with a whole huge lot o’similar, previous findings about women’s attitudes towards work.

    Please understand that I’m not even making a value judgment, here, when I say that. Maybe more guys in that position should take a more relaxed attitude to the big promotion.

    S’all good, Whatever floats yer boat. Etc. :-)

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