Chivalry and the Feminist Perspective

It puzzles me when men or women find out I am a feminist and they immediately assume that I do not want a man courting me. How did these two notions become related? Clearly, the word feminism has been easily misconstrued.

Recently, celebrities have been denouncing being a feminist; however, they believe in the strength of women and socioeconomic equality among the sexes. Yet, that’s exactly what feminism is! Being a feminist is believing in the movement and ideology of equal political, social, and economic rights among ALL genders. I would like my future nieces, nephews, sons, and daughters to have the same opportunities and advantages equally.

I shave my legs, do not have dreads or a masculine haircut and I am not a lesbian which is the erroneous and absolute sexist stereotype of a feminist.

I also do not believe that all romance should go out the window just because I yearn for equality. I am baffled as to how this impression was circulated.

I feel that I am not alone in experiencing this. I can certainly embrace feminism and still deserve to be swept off my feet. Having equal rights should in no way affect that–I am still a woman regardless of this.

Since we have such a hard time understanding what feminism is maybe we also do not have a clear indication of what chivalry is. Chivalry is defined to emphasize the ideals of the knightly virtues of honor, courtly love, and courtesy. In essence, a man who lives his life with honor, respect, courage, and above all, love and graciousness, is a true gentleman. I consider these traits to be valuable yet unfortunately very uncommon in the present day.

I have had experiences in the past with ex-boyfriends who thought that since I am such a feminist, they did not feel obligated to be chivalrous or romantic. This boggles my mind–how on earth would this set precedence on receiving romantic gestures?

If I am growing and taking a stand for what I believe in, why must some men backtrack and dig their heels in to disturb and interrupt my progress? Why must this ideology become so tangled that we must roll over and turn into weak-minded women to get what we want? Why can’t we just be ourselves and receive the same benefits? Why is it that strong women who openly voice their support of feminist progression renders them not being able to receive the same courtesy as women that are not as vocal?

I suppose looking from a different perspective, these gender roles of men and women have become so ingrained into society that changing that may seem perplexing to some.

Men (whether they choose to or not), know the proper way to go about pursuing a woman. If a woman pursues a man, I can consider the possible uncertainty regarding a male’s role in this situation. The confusion of these roles may influence erroneous actions but this is not a purposeful attempt to restrain female strength-it is merely due to misplaced objectives. I was raised to not conform to typical gender roles–I played with gender neutral toys growing up, I have always pursued men in the way that I felt suitable, and I constantly offer to split the bill on dates.

I believe in equal opportunity, equal pay, and equal respect. I believe in putting in just as many romantic gestures as I would like to receive.

The idea that I am trying to convey is that my growth in becoming a stronger and more opinionated woman who fights for equal rights should in no way negatively affect how a man treats me–it should do exactly the opposite. I should be praised for my passion in equality rather than intimidate those around me.

As females we have become opportune in our movement towards equality. If you study feminist ideologies, you understand that there are various concerns that we must address in order to succeed in our endeavors.

I believe that one of those issues is criticizing or blaming men for any inequality–instead, we should embrace and challenge them to rise above and continue to grow. As a society, we need to change the ideals and gender roles to positively impact everyone as a whole.

Most women are naturally nurturing, flexible, and communicate well. We have changed and developed and have always supported one another even when we were not successful in our actions. However, the male’s role has been lost amongst these changes-they do not know what to do or what is expected of them any longer. This confusion sparks defensiveness and uncertainty which may possibly lead to men not understanding if we want to be courted and pursued.

I think we could use our abilities and change our focus to work on helping men cope so that we can all naturally align and become an equal based society that supports one another. After all, we need support and help from all sides to get to where we need and want to go.

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