By: Leah Weigel
Chivalry has traditionally been associated as the art of a man. In many cultures it includes the man opening doors for women, giving women their coats when they are cold, etc. Basically general kindness directed toward women. There is a misconception going around that feminism means anti-chivalry — if women want equality, then they should get no special treatment from a man. This logic is completely flawed. This logic does not seem to include any relationship except the romantic hetero-normative couple. This logic assumes that equality of women means that women will not appreciate traditional chivalrous acts. I disagree. I believe that chivalry is not a lost art, and it can totally be part of feminist values! Let’s be honest, I love being taken out to dinner. But chivalry should not assume that women are not capable of paying for dinner or opening their own doors. Feminism should also not assume that women who want independence will/should not appreciate when a door is opened for them. Chivalry has nothing to do with our capabilities or independence as women.
So what does chivalry in feminism look like?
I think the key to re-connecting chivalry and feminism is to make chivalry less a boys only club. Though the tradition stems from knighthood and cisgender male roles, I think it is time for everyone (all gender identities/expressions and sexual orientations) should embrace the principles of chivalry. I love being taken out for dinner, but I also love taking my boyfriend out to dinner. This is not a stab at his man hood; it is merely an act of chivalry. I care about his happiness and he cares about mine. This leads to mutual chivalry towards each other. He opens the door for me, and I don’t say, “You know I don’t need you, I could have done that myself.” Instead I thank him and open the door for him. And he doesn’t say, “Who does this girl think she is—I’m the man here!” He simply thanks me. I call this “modern chivalry,” and it’s the best way to embrace feminism and maintain healthy and happy relationships of all kinds.