In my defense, I had told my siblings they do not know what feminism and chivalry are but then I thought to myself, maybe I do not know what they are. Is it fair for a woman who identifies as a feminist to fight for her equal rights but then expect a man to pay the bill on a first date? This led me to a dictionary search for the word Feminism, defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, as the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Chivalry, also known as the chivalric code, is defined as a code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood which developed between 1170 and 1220. The conduct of chivalry is defined as the combination of qualities expected of an ideal knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak.
It is worth repeating, a readiness to help the weak. Perhaps self-identified feminists, particularly those women who perceive a gentleman’s etiquette as offensive and insulting, define chivalry as the traditional definition of a man helping a woman because he sees her as weak. However, more recent definitions of chivalry share a common theme: an honorable and polite way of behaving towards anyone. The women who identify as feminists but also appreciate a gentleman’s mannerisms are women who essentially understand chivalry is akin to treating someone in a courteous manner and that being a woman who believes in equality should not compromise that. Why should the idea of a woman advocating for gender equality take away from being treated like a lady?
In this sense, feminism does not kill chivalry. Our understanding and perspective of feminism and chivalry are to blame. Women who perceive chivalry in the traditional sense as a man helping a weak woman is what propels her to dismiss a gentleman’s courtesy and that kills chivalry. A man who perceives every women as the kind to assume chivalry in the traditional sense is what kills chivalry. It is important for us to realize chivalry pertains to everyone, not just women. Chivalry is a teenager allowing a senior citizen to take their seat on the bus. Chivalry is a stranger giving money to a beggar. Chivalry is a woman offering a man a ride home. Chivalry is a man opening a door for a woman. Feminism should not be blamed for killing chivalry. It is a lack of understanding, a misinterpretation of actions, or simply it is a person’s laziness or carelessness that kills chivalry. The notion of blaming feminism for today’s lack of chivalry is another attempt to dismiss gender equality.