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In the riding seat: When did men ever live up to women's expectations anyway? 

Chivalry is not dead — certainly not as the subject of an inane and repetitive debate about rude men and wronged women anyway. When Downton Abbey actress Michelle Dockery confessed in Radio Times that she longed for a bygone age of door-opening, dinner-table-rising men, female columnists were quick to mount their anti-sexism steads.

Jenni Murray briskly reminded us that we should be grateful to see the back of a gendered code of manners, while Bryony Gordon expressed concern about the dry-cleaning bill should some gallant fellow place his cloak over a puddle for her. Emily Maitlis assured us of chivalry's Lazarine fortitude in the technological age. As proof of its contemporary social relevance and power for civility, she cited the example of social media users "anxious to be of service" when an attractive celebrity newsreader such as herself implores her "tweeps" for help. Thus, the stereotypical cyber-geek, with his obsessive love of Scandinavian death metal and medieval warfare, becomes a modern-day Sir Galahad, armed to the hilt with a laptop and Twitter account.

So how did the debate come to be a mere matter of relative sexism, and forget about chivalry's most crucial component: the notion that God informs and guides good behaviour, and that chivalry is enacted, not out of some unscrupulous desire to enfetter and ravish womankind, but out of "piety and virtue...the essence of a knight's life", as Johan Huizinga argued in 1919 in his seminal work, The Waning of the Middle Ages

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