Recently, I’ve read a lot of online articles about chivalry. Some argue it’s dead, others argue it isn’t, and many say women are, in fact, the ones who’ve killed it. As someone who believes that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities (and not as someone who doesn’t shave my legs, because I do, or as someone who is an unhygienic man-hater, which I am also not), I consider myself a feminist. But as someone who manipulated her first kiss so that it would be under a streetlight on New Year’s Eve, I also believe in classic romance and knight-in-shining-armor happy endings. Something I’ve struggled with all my life is figuring out where these two important and constant values find their balance.
Is it possible for me to be a feminist that believes in chivalry? Or am I, along with every other girl who was raised on a diet of Disney princess movies, the utmost contradiction?
First, I want to address the claim that chivalry is dead, because it definitely isn’t. It might be hard to find them, but guys who won’t let you open your own car door and pay for all of your meals still exist… they’re just really hard to find. We’re also at the age where girls aren’t looking for someone who is as chivalrous as he is attractive or as he is fun. And if we aren’t demanding it, guys aren’t going to go out of their way to do it. If we give ourselves to them and they don’t need to put in the effort to woo us, then why would they? It makes sense. Perhaps your guy is more chivalrous than you might think… he just hasn’t found his armor yet. He’s been too focused on riding the horse (haha).
When we get older and boys realize that we are god’s gift to planet earth, as we obviously are, maybe things will change. Chances are, actually, they will.
Chivalry is not necessarily degrading to women if it is done right. When it started, it was about the strength of men in comparison to that of women, displaying the qualities they have that we physically do not. I am definitely on the liberal side of most, if not all, social issues. Like, basically 100%. But it bothers me when feminists try to define themselves as feminists by saying that women are just as strong as men, or just as capable of carrying a 50 pound package from the mail room as a man would be. In truth, we are not. It’s simply not how we’re built. Men are made to be stronger, and that is a fact that, upon admittance, does not make me a bad feminist. It makes me someone that doesn’t ignore certain truths that some who refer to themselves as “feminists” often do. He isn’t holding a door open for you because he thinks you can’t do it yourself. He’s holding it open because, historically, and truthfully, it’s probably easier for him to do. Not a big deal.
However, the issue of paying for a woman is something completely different. My ex-boyfriend never let me pay for a single thing, ever. Rarely–and by “rarely” I mean once every couple of months–I was allowed to pay tip at a restaurant, and that was it. Concert tickets were split evenly–the only rule we agreed on. Of course, it’s nice to have someone pay for all of your shit. If one of my girlfriends paid for everything, it would be just as nice. But, in theory, he was making no more money than I was. We were both teenagers using our parents’ credit cards.
Once I started working, my views about this changed. Now, I don’t let guys pay for me. OK, fine, once in a while, I do. But I never let it happen unless I put up a real fight. Sometimes, guys are relentless. I think we have to realize that they aren’t trying to be degrading, and they aren’t trying to prove they are more powerful–fiscally or physically–than we are in any way, shape, or form. They’re just using a centuries-old tradition to show us that they’re worth it. Think of it this way: they feel like they have to prove something to you. They are men, not boys. Maybe we should take it as a compliment. Maybe I’m a shitty feminist. Thoughts?