English: A boy helping a girl over a creek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This article is about chivalry and feminism. However, before I get to that point I want to talk briefly about people’s views, in general, and about feminism.
Take any view on any subject and you will find extremist views on both sides of that topic. It is also true that those with the most extreme views are usually the loudest, and therefore get the most coverage by the media.
I am of the opinion that every person, regardless of their similarities or differences to other people, should have the opportunity to go as far as they are capable of and should be compensated based on those skills and equally with others who possess similar skills. I also believe that all people, by nature of being human, are due a certain minimum amount of respect.
This does not always happen. I once worked for a company where employees could be fired for discussing their compensation with other employees. They would calculate what each person would most likely accept as the lowest offer, knock 10% to 20% off that to give you negotiating room, and give you that offer. They wanted to pay the rock bottom price for each employee. If you had a good job you were willing to leave, you might not do too bad. If you were currently unemployed, they took advantage of that. If you believe a woman should have the opportunity to excel based on her abilities and be compensated fairly for her skills, I do not consider that feminism, I consider it common sense, and I do not consider myself a feminist.
So, on to the extremes for a moment. There are those feminist that are on the extreme, and I was not surprised by their response to chivalry. These are the some of the same feminists that say “all men are potential rapists.” The same feminists who seem to take great joy in attacking anything masculine that men are doing, unless of course a feminists is doing it (then it’s a good thing, and they don’t see anything contradictory about this attitude, so much for equality). I’ll give you one quote from this group. But, this is not what today’s article is about. As you know I prefer to look at the positive, we already have enough negative in this world of ours. And so today I am applauding feminists. Not the extremists that appear to be men haters. Nope I am applauding the feminists who believe in equal opportunity and equal pay for equal work AND who also believe in chivalry.
I have read several articles that proclaim in their titles and their content that feminists have killed chivalry. I say feminists may be the key to brining back chivalry. But, before I go there, here is one from the opposition.
This is from a female college student who calls herself Pixie.
“Feminism killed chivalry. Its our fault girls, that men don’t behave like men anymore. Good job.
wORLD WITHOUT chivlry? But …who will open doors?Who pull out chairs??!?! Who will joust 4 my honor????Women r truly lost wow it is a sad day in merica.” Punctuation, spelling and grammar is Pixie’s, italics are mine. Here’s her website.
Oh, just so you know, there are also MRA’s (that’s “men’s rights activists” in the activist’s jargon something I just learned … I’m not one of these either) who agree with the extremist feminists. Personally, I think those MRA’s are just cheap and lazy, but that is my opinion.
There was also a study (from the University of Florida) that proclaimed all chivalry benevolent sexism. Open a door for a woman, even if you just did that because you got there first, and it is benevolent sexism. Pretty much if a man does something that anyone could call chivalry, even if that is not why he did it, it is benevolent sexism. Of course, we must all work diligently to stamp out all forms of benevolent sexism. If it means stamping out chivalry, I’ll pass.
So why all this talk of chivalry lately? Wish I could take credit for it, but alas it’s not me. It wasn’t until I started to write the second article on this series that I decided, “Hey, I need to do a little web research.” I was shocked at how much I found and how recent it all was. Tracking backwards I discovered it all seems to have started with Ms. Emily Esfahani Smith and an article she wrote for “The Atlantic” , you can also find Ms. Smith’s work on the blog “Acculturated”. When Ms. Smith wrote that one article on chivalry it opened a flood of women blogging about chivalry. Jezebel did a good job of carrying the anti-chivalry flag, with other feminists joining in.
Ok, enough of that. I like positive. Now on to why I say feminists are saving chivalry. Many feminists are complaining about the loss of chivalry over the past few decades, and they want a return to chivalry. The 20 some-things of today do not date as “we did back in my day.” They just meet up someplace, usually with their friends around. Ms. Cheryl Yeoh, 29, does not do hook-ups or meet-ups. It’s only “traditional dating” (boy this makes me feel old) for her. She says “If he really wants you he has to put in some effort.” Here’s the article.
Next we go to Ms. Calla Kenney at “Breaking Away From Modern Feminism: Why This Woman is Leaving the Collective”, when you get there also read her “Terms and Definitions” tab, she does a great job of explaining herself, and has some suggested reading. Good job young lady (No insult intended, in my mind anyone young enough to be my kid is “young lady.”).
Then over at “Divine Caroline” I found this vlog from Lori Harfenist, a feminists who likes chivalry.
At “For Harriet” we find author Valerie Jean-Charles, a black feminist who is definitely a supporter of chivalry. Her article is “Feminism and Chivalry – A Case of Identity and Desire”. I specify “black feminist” because “For Harriet” is a community “celebrating the fullness of black womanhood.” Some of the other authors I quote from may be from a variety of races, they do not state their own race and I do not care what their race is (as some of my past girlfriends can attest too). I include Valerie’s race here because she stated it.
Valerie says, “…I love romance and the idea of building a life with someone. I love releasing the control I exhibit at work and in society within the confines of a relationship, and having a firm shoulder and strong arms to lean on and fall into. To many, I don’t necessarily fit the image of what the mainstream says a feminist should be because of my race, my socioeconomic status and most importantly my adoration of men — specifically, black men.
Feminism gives women the tools and space to speak, write, and argue about their need of equal representation in political, social, religious, and economic spheres of life. I love men opening doors, giving up their seats on public transportation, and pulling out chairs for me, as well as rising from the table when I do. Does this mean that I am complacent and weak without thoughts and ideas of my own? Of course not. …”
Ms. Chris Jordan at “Alpha Mom” gets the point across with humor ( a favorite of mine, humor is ALWAYS appreciated). Here’s her article “Has Feminism Killed Chivalry And Good Old Fashioned Manners?”
At “Gridlock Magazine” Suze Nowak supports feminism and chivalry by pointing out that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, only she did it in high heels and backwards.
Jennifer Harper made her pint in the “Washington Times” with the results of a Harris poll and her analysis.
Last on this list (there were too many for me to list them all, but when you do a web search on the topic you’ll see what I mean) is feminists Samantha (Sam) Brett (at the “Sydney Morning Herald”), who starts out, in her article “Should Chivalry Be Stopped?”, by telling you in her first two sentences, “I am a feminist. I also like men to be chivalrous …”
I bristle at people who declare “all” actions by a group of people are “this or that.” Nothing in life is that definitive. If you sit down and talk with an Army division just returning from combat you will be surprised to find (after getting past the “sound bite” answers) that there are as many reasons those soldiers chose to go into combat as there are soldiers in the division. Any time I hear something like “all chivalry is benevolent sexism” I just don’t buy it. To me the intent behind action is just as important as the actions themselves. And the intent comes from the doer not from the receiver or an observer. Also, dare I say it, “the ends NEVER justifies the means.” Ok, maybe bold, caps, underlined, italics is a bit overdoing it, but you get my point.
I thank God for the many lessons my grandfather taught me, and wish he had been around to meet his granddaughter. However, my intentions are not all altruistic on this point. There is a little selfishness here too. How much more could I have learned from him had he lived past my 16th birthday. He did live long enough though to teach me that women are amazing, and the most powerful women are those women who are comfortable with their own femininity. Don’t believe me? Look at some of the most powerful men in history. Do a before and after look at them. Single, each one was exceptional, married each one was nearly unstoppable. The writings of John Adams could be more accurately signed “by John and Abigail Adams.” Without Abigail Adams, John’s monarchist tendencies would have relegated his thoughts and influence to the trash heap of his day. But with Abigail John’s monarchist tendencies were properly bridled. Rarely were his greatest ideas his and his alone. Those ideas usually came about through deep and often complicated political conversations, held in private, between Abigail and John. You should read their personal letters to each other. Both were intellectual giants.
Here’s another one for you. Does anyone think Bill Clinton would have become the political leader he became, without Hillary Clinton? Say what you want about the two of them, I am not getting into politics or definitions of femininity here. But Bill would have been perfectly happy to lead a much simpler life. A man can be strong on his own. A woman can be strong on her own. But, a couple is so much more versatile and powerful than either of them are alone.
Back to my grandfather. He taught me to respect women because they are so amazing, versatile, intelligent, and yes powerful. He taught me to honor and respect women, without expecting anything in return, because respect and honor should be a gift and you should never expect anything in return for a gift. So, I am going to continue to be chivalrous. I am also going to retrieve those chivalrous parts of my personality I abandoned because they were frowned upon. More than that, I am going to teach my daughter what chivalry means. I am also going to teach her that chivalry IS NOT just manners, and women do not become chivalrous by being polite to men. Chivalrous behavior on the part of men and women is different, one from the other, yet both are about respect.
Finally, I would like to say I happily aligned myself with feminists like Samantha Brett. On chivalry at least, we are in agreement. So to Sam I would like to say, “Thank you for giving me back my lance.”