Thank Goodness Men No Longer Need to Walk on the Right to Keep Their Sword Arm Free

For some reason, it persists among (some) men that to be chivalrous, they need to walk on a particular side of a woman when walking down the street. Historical reasons cited for this include:

  • When knights existed, their right arm was their sword arm and thus is needed to be available to defend the lady.

  • When people used to throw garbage out the window, the woman needed to be on the building side of the street so it wouldn’t hit her.

  • The man needs to be on the street side of the sidewalk in case a car splashes water.

  • Having the lady on the wrong side implies she is a prostitute

This often results in some ridiculous running around the lady to get to the correct side creating awkwardness all around. From a quick Google, men’s dating sites are strongly encouraging this practice though it should clearly die out. The fact of it is there is no really good reason for the man to be walking on the street side, danger is just as likely to come from the other side.

Granted, most old etiquette books (right up through Emily Post) do instruct the man to take the curbside position (or the married lady should take it if walking with a single lady), but they all also say that a gentleman should always defer to a lady’s preference. This means no pouting like a petulant child if a woman refuses to let you act the gallant.

There are any number of acceptable chivalrous practices that you can participate in if you wish to feel like a knight in shining armour:

  • Hold doors (but don’t insist she wait in the car while you run around to open her side!)

  • Offer your jacket (but only because it is likely you are wearing a long sleeved shirt and she is not)

  • Hold the umbrella (because you are likely taller)

  • Go to the door to pick her up instead of honking (or calling/texting) from the car

  • Give the lady (or anyone!) a hand or elbow if they are unsteady on their feet from illness/drunkenness/ill-advised heel heights

10 thoughts on “Thank Goodness Men No Longer Need to Walk on the Right to Keep Their Sword Arm Free

    • No. I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Being a gentleman was never about making absolute sense. We are gentlemen because we choose to be. I open and hold doors. I offer my coat. I wash dishes if my wife wants to sit. I offer my hand or arm when she stands up, crosses ice, steps up a curb… and I walk on the street side. If a man doesn’t walk on the street side, he’s not a gentleman, he’s a cabbage.

      • My father, born in 1914, told me, born in 1941, that men walked on the outside to protect the lady from the garbage, splashing, vegetable carts, etc. To not do so, one would possibly hear “cabbage” shouted at him from others who recognized his lack of chivalry!

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  3. There are reasons that don’t exist anymore, I agree with you, but it doesn’t mean it is stupid for a man to hold a door or walk on the traffic side. There is also something beautiful in that if you know how to appreciate it. It might be stupid for you but that’s your own personal opinion and shouldkeep it for yourself. You sound like a frustrated feminist who goes to the other extreme. Being equal to men doesn’t mean there is no difference between the two and doesn’t mean that something beautiful has to be destroyed. It’s all a question of beauty, respect and appreciation, from both. So I suppose you also condemn holding the door to someone older than you, your mum, your dad. I always walk on the traffic side and nothing to do with tradition of medival nor of victorian time but simply so I get hit first and hopefully not my wife as well I get the splash. My wife, dispite she is not the little princess type in her mind, doesn’t expect it but appreciate and like it.
    Maybe you haven’t found the right man that would make you feel special.
    Think about it!

    • I’m going to hit you w/ a few quick thoughts here. I’ll elaborate at a later time.

      – Where do you get the idea Victoria is a feminist from this post?? If so happens to be, what kind of feminist is she? (there are more than one).
      – As there are more than one kind of feminist ideology, one of them ACTUALLY advocates the difference of women and men; others do not.
      – She shows some appreciation for some “gentleman” gestures (although she makes it gender neutral, something you seem to suggest you value in your writing) by suggesting some, if you so chose to want to be chivalrous, in the second bulletin section.
      – I don’t know what extreme you suggest she’s going into??
      – I fail to see in her writing how she expresses to lack the “right man that would make [her] feel special”.
      – I see scenarios where it can be irrelevant to her (and others) dating life
      – Lastly, she could have a different preference that does not include a men. Either as dating or she might not have an interest in dating at the moment…

      So say, I’ll pose it this way. You think her article is a result of her dating life?? Could there be other reasons, causes for this article besides that scenario??

      Think about these things and get back to me.

      • It’s okay to have customs and traditions.
        We’re not talking about a woman-beating or cross-burning tradition.

        He may have assumed the feminist bit b/c third wave feminism does just what the author did; invent problems where there is none.

  4. Hilariously bad article full of male blaming. I had an ex-gf who continuously ran towards the inside of the street (away from the curb) when I was on the inside. She wouldn’t tell me why. I only found out later when I looked it up.

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