In the middle of one of those tired old “is chivalry dead?” arguments I got to thinking about what makes a modern gentleman. Given that chivalry is no longer part of what makes a gentleman (good riddance), it raises the question of how a classy gentleman could be defined these days. I think this is pretty much how I would define it, and by the way, in the spirit of equality, this list should generally apply to ladies as well.
Rule 1: Absolutely no fedoras. Being an obnoxiously-dressed neckbeard does not make one a gentleman. Unless you can successfully rock a zoot suit in your ’90s style ska band, don’t wear a fedora/trilby… and if you are in a ska band, you should really question the direction your life is going.
Rule 2: The modern gentleman rarely discusses religion and politics. When he does, it is discussed with tact and civility, and usually only with friends and family. A gentleman does not spread fake quotes through social media and complain about political correctness. He does not spend his time on social media whining about being short-changed by some race/gender/orientation. He does not post conspiracy theories on social media.
Rule 3: A gentleman brushes his teeth. Shaves. Smells nice. I don’t know why I have to post this, but a gentleman does not make public distasteful noises and/or smells with his body. For some reason IT staff have a hard time grasping this.
Rule 4: A gentleman has a go-to drink. Maybe he enjoys single malt whisky. Maybe he’s more of a mai-tai guy (no shame in that in the 21st century). If he’s creative, he has his own signature cocktails. He has something he can come home to after a hard day.
Rule 5: A gentleman is chivalrous… to everyone. Chivalry is dead not because it’s wrong to be nice to women, but because equal courtesy should be extended to men as well. Be respectful to all that haven’t lost your respect, but never be patronizing or sexist.
Rule 6: A gentleman respects that everyone has a different journey in life. Until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes, never accuse them of having some sort of privilege that you don’t, or that their lifestyle is inferior to yours. That’s tacky and rude. So what if someone was born into a rich family? So what if someone is on welfare?
Rule 7: A gentleman has hobbies, but doesn’t take them too far. Men are the worst at this. Don’t spend a large portion of your money to complete a video game collection or buy recreational drugs. Don’t have more cars than will fit in your garage. Don’t own 142 guns. And for the love of God, don’t buy giant inflatable ponies to keep in your bedroom.
Rule 8: A gentleman knows when to censor himself. Restrain yourself from overuse of expletives, or they lose their effect. A 21st century gentleman can curse sparingly, but not within earshot of unknown parties. Avoid discussions of genitalia, especially at the table. Art is art, but conversation is ultimately an art of restraint.
Rule 9: A gentleman can find social and intellectual well-being without drugs and alcohol, if necessary. A gentleman knows his limit and actively avoids getting drunk and obnoxious.
Rule 10: A gentleman is never a victim. A gentleman accepts their life as the sum of what they have put into it. It may not be exactly what they want it to be, but…
Rule 11: A gentleman is driven. They know what they want out of their life, and they spend every day trying to achieve. However, a gentleman is capable of relaxing and leaving work problems at work.
Rule 12: A gentleman has few enemies. They don’t start petty fights on social media. They forgive those who have wronged them, because having many enemies makes life even more difficult and emotionally draining.
Rule 13: A gentleman does not objectify the gender of his affection. However, he doesn’t allow the opposite sex to shame him when he wants to empower himself.
Rule 14: A gentleman is calm. He doesn’t freak out over things. A gentleman doesn’t get outraged every week on Facebook.
Rule 15: A gentleman is unique. You cannot place a gentleman into a subculture just by looking at him. He is not part of any collective. He is himself, and is comfortable being himself.
Rule 16: A gentleman is independent. He is organized and knows how to cook and clean when necessary. He doesn’t rely on others to carry him through life.
Rule 17: A gentleman surprises others with their compassion when it is not expected. He is kind and charitable.
Rule 18: A gentleman does not enter into a relationship he does not belong in.
Rule 19: A gentleman has healthy masculinity, but is not afraid of having a feminine side. Some may wear a scarf. Some may carry a man-purse. But no hipster may ever be a gentleman (see #15).
Rule 20: A gentleman does not boast about his finances, and lives a modest lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I am not the perfect gentleman, as I fail a few rules. Most people do. In my opinion, one should strive for as many of these as possible.