gentleman” noun (pl. gentlemen) a man who is polite and well educated, who has excellent manners and always behaves well
Thank you—you’re a real gentleman.
He’s no gentleman!

Oxford dictionary

What are the core qualities of a gentleman? A gentleman is respectful, he’s confident and embraces his imperfections. He carries a mindset of equality, he’s emotionally intelligent and practices self love.

Looking outside, it’s apparent that GBV is still an active plague on the lives of our women in South Africa. How would life be if men of today were taught to embrace gentlemanly qualities?

A study called Changing gender roles in the Household from the University of KZN defined patriarchy as an ideology that places the benefits and preferences of men before those of women. Leading to marginalisation, exclusion and oppression of those who do not fit the mould.

Patriarchy is an ideological and social construct that considers men superior to women. This tradition or mentality is the reason why our society is broken today. Traditional masculinity includes norms that encourage aggressive behaviours.

Socio-cultural structures, religion, education, geographical setting, poverty and economic statuses reinforce toxic gender roles in today’s society.

So how is a gentleman different? Let’s start small; a gentleman uses a polite and respectful tone whenever speaking with others. “Please” and “thank you” are a part of his daily vocabulary.

A gentleman is able to stand upright, look himself in the mirror and be comfortable in his own skin. He understands that nobody is perfect, including himself. Hence, he’s able to forgive others and himself for making mistakes.

A gentleman doesn’t consider himself superior to a woman.

A gentleman knows how to manage his own emotions, by being self aware and able to communicate his feelings without getting physical.

A gentleman is able to step inside other people’s shoes and sympathise with them.

And lastly, a gentleman understands that true love is internal and doesn’t rely on somebody else to fill the gap.

But what do others say? I asked Linda, a 28 yr old performer and he said, “Most girls love bad guys, and good guys finish last. With most girls, when you’re a gentleman, they tend to make a fool out of you.”

But Malindy, a 24 yr old presenter had this to say, “Gents don’t even do the simple things like open doors for ladies these days. When a man becomes a gentleman to his lady. The bros would be like, ‘Bro you’re being a simp.’” She continued, “These days, men are more concerned about what the bros would say or how the bros would feel about it.”

Although both of these views are relevant and true today, I don’t think men should decide to be gentlemen based on how the opposite sex treats them or for fear of what the bros will say.

I think, as men, we should always strive for personal betterment regardless. One effective way is to learn, practice and embody the gentleman’s principles on a daily. Learn respect, self-love, equality, and how to build a high emotional IQ. Also, learn how to accept and embrace imperfections confidently.

A suitable example of a real life gentleman would be the former U.S president, Barack Obama. He displays a natural charm, composure, wit and compassion towards others. Other notable gentlemen would be the likes of Denzel Washington, Lewis Hamilton, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Bonko Khoza, Maps Maponyane, and Trevor Noah to mention a few.

By teaching these principles both at home and in schools, we could ensure a better future for all. But It has to begin with us grown men first before it trickles down to the next generation.

But what do you think? How could men learn and apply these gentlemanly principles?