A gentlemen is, first of all, a cultural achievement. No boy is born opening doors or laying his jacket across puddles for his sisters and girlfriends. A boy doesn’t naturally keep his word or forbear a slight when an excuse or a score settled is within easy reach. All those things we might call virtues, and good manners must be learned. But to be learned they must be taught, and that requires first of all that they are esteemed. So you’ll immediately see our predicament: Mr. Darcy is not born, ladies, he is made.
…the American author James Freeman Clarke wrote over a century ago:
“Manliness means perfect manhood, as womanliness implies perfect womanhood. Manliness is the character of man as he ought to be as he was meant to be. It expresses the qualities which go to make a perfect man–truth, courage, conscience, freedom, energy, self-possession, self-control. But it does not exclude gentleness, tenderness, compassion, modesty. A man is not less manly, but more so, because he is gentle. In fact, our word ‘gentlemen’ shows that a typical man must also be a gentle man.”
In the end it is the intent and striving for the imago that is important. But that imago has to have a cultural context and be imagined in touchable icons. This is why father figures are so important…as long as they have something worthy they strive for.