Chivalry vs. Feminism
By Becky Stemler
Merriam-Webster defines feminism as, “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” With all the empowered feminists in the world today, things can be quite confusing in the dating world. It is possible that feminism is gradually rejecting chivalry. Is it more insulting for a man to open a door for a woman with the possibility of him implying she is too weak to do so herself, or for him to not attempt the action at all? While some radical feminists would choose not to accept such actions, I find accepting them fine as long as they were offered with the right intention, and not just because it is expected.
Feminism empowers women and men to be strong and equal individuals. Does this mean that a woman should be independent in the form of rejecting a man’s courteous actions, or that a man should not make these chivalrous actions because it is not expected of him? Not necessarily. It means that if a man chooses to do something nice because he wants to do so for the woman, and not because he has to or it is of expected of him, then that is okay. If a woman knows that she is fully capable of opening a door herself, should her inner feminist tell her to reject a man holding it for her? To put my point in perspective, imagine this: You see an elderly person walking into a restaurant behind you; it is not considered rude or offensive to offer to hold the door for them. In most cases they are able to open the door on their own, but it is a kind and respectful deed for you to do so for them. The same could go for a man holding a door for a woman.
Dating can be rather confusing with all the empowered feminists in the world nowadays. Men do not want the pressure of fulfilling the role of a so-called gentleman; and women are flaunting their self-sufficiency and strength. Is holding a door for a woman insulting her capability? Should a woman expect a man to pay for her dinner on dates? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie expresses, “The boy is expected to pay the bills, always, to prove his masculinity.” Paying for a bill should not be done in order to prove anything to society. There are differences between doing something out of courtesy and kindness, versus doing something to fulfil the cliché of “protecting the weaker sex,” or because it is what society expects of you. The Ted Talk goes on to point out an interesting point, “What if their attitude was not ‘the boy has to pay,’ but rather ‘whoever has more should pay,’” thus creating the equality of the positioning in the relationship.
Since the Middle Ages, chivalry has been an honorable and polite way to treat women. It is and has been a value of respect. In relationships, men and women should be able to do things for each other not because they are expected to, but because they want to. Chivalry is not implying that a woman can’t open the door for herself; it is just a form of manners and can be seen as a good deed. While a man should not be expected to pay for dinner, it is an act of chivalry for them to do so. Should men give up on acting with chivalry because it is not expected of them? Should women reject these acts as an “I can do it myself” attitude? Every person is entitled to their own opinion and choice, but I hope that both men and women can keep an open mind and not let their pride get in the way of accepting or doing these chivalrous deeds.
Ngozi Adichie, Chimamanda. “We Should All Be Feminists.” Ted Talk. United Nations, New York City. 23 Nov. 2014. Speech.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster,Web. 04 Jan. 2015.