Yongsan author tackles the chivalry question
Stripes Korea | .
published: July 11, 2017
Jeffrey Wertz has been involved with the U.S. military ever since his days as a military brat. Now, with a son of his own, Wertz has begun noticing something about today’s men and chivalry, or lack thereof. So, what began as an observation three years ago, now has become a book titled “The Gentleman: A Dying Breed in America.” Wertz, who served in the Army for eight years, is now working at USAG Yongsan and took some time to talk about the book, which hit the book stores June 4.
Can you give a little bit of your background in the military?
A: I have been associated with the military my entire life. My father retired from the military after 22 years of service, so I grew up living on and utilizing programs on military installations all around the world. I joined the military right out of high school and served in the United States Army for eight years. After serving my time, I received a European-out and immediately began working as a government employee on an Army installation in Frankfurt, Germany. I am proud to say, I have been with the United
States Army going on 38 years and currently work at the U.S. Army Garrison in Yongsan, South Korea.
What was inspiration behind writing the book?
A: During a visit with my son three years ago, it came to light that my son’s friends would often tease him because of how he treated his girlfriend. He was telling me how he and his girlfriend would go out with other couples and he was the only one who would pull out the chair for his girlfriend, or help her with her coat. I told him he could rest easy because his girlfriend probably appreciated the treatment and the other women most likely made comment the behavior to their respective boyfriends. After I returned home, I reflected on our conversation, and over the next couple of weeks I started paying more and more attention to how couples treated one another in public. At first, I thought about writing an article. After talking to and observing more couples, I realized there was a much bigger problem when it came to what I considered basic etiquette. An article would not be enough; it would take an entire book to cover all of my thoughts, observations and input from individuals.
What do you think is the reason for the decline in chivalry?
A: This is a very interesting question. The general belief from the men I spoke with centered around the feminist movement and the perception that women no longer want this kind of treatment; men felt women want to be more independent. The comments from the women contradicted what the men said. Out of the almost 200 women with whom I spoke, not one of them said they “DID NOT” want a man to perform simple acts of chivalry or etiquette, such as opening a door or pulling out their chair. Women said either one of two things: 1) women either expected a man to perform these simple acts, or 2) the acts were not necessary, but appreciated. I am a person who opens doors and pulls out chairs for all women, be it my partner, mother, daughter, or colleague, and I have never had anyone scold me for my actions. So, it appears that a simple misunderstanding between men and women concerning expectations is the answer.
There is another possible answer. Like a lot of things in life, actions and behaviors are learned at home. If a child grows up in a home where the father performs simple acts of chivalry or etiquette towards his wife or partner, the children in the home will mostly begin dating with an expectation that their date will treat them the same way. If a child grows up in a home where they do not see this kind of treatment, then they most likely will not have specific expectations or a frame of reference. I would like to think that most parents want their daughter to be treated respectfully by a well-mannered boy and for their son to treat girls in the same way. But we don’t know what we don’t know. Future generations take away what the current generation demonstrates.
How would you say the book relates to a military audience?
A: The majority of my research was done in the private sector. I was able to spend a fair amount of time talking to soldiers and civilians who are associated with the military. I also spent time observing couples at restaurants and other venues on military bases, and although I do not have specific data or numbers, it became obvious that couples associated with the military treated their partners much better than those in the private sector. More often than not, men on the military installations displayed acts of chivalry or etiquette towards women than those couples found in the civilian community. These observed behaviors could stem from a couple of things: 1) Military values are instilled in both military members and civilians alike. 2) The military is basically one giant family; a family who looks out for and respects each member. 3) Military members tend to care how they are perceived by others and how their own behaviors reflect upon themselves as individuals. And finally, 4) I think women supporting the military are very respected for their role in ensuring their spouse is mission ready; a spouse is often shown special treatment as part of the respect and admiration their partner holds towards them. In short, I believe men in general have a long road back to the way they used to treat and show respect to women; the military man has a much shorter road to travel, though there is still room for improvement.
Do you have plans to write any other books in the future?
A: Yes. I am already working on the outline for a second book. As it looks now, I will be focusing on how behavior of both people in a long-term relationship changes over time and how each person deals with change. Now that I am a little more familiar with the process of writing and publishing a book, I hope to complete the book by next summer.
Need a copy?
You can pick up a copy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. The eBook is available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo.
Wertz will be signing copies of the book at the Yongsan Post Exchange from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., July 15, 16, 22, 23.