Chivalry vs. Sexism

One common favourite among anti-feminists is the claim that feminists hate chivalry. Now, first of all, let’s just explain chivalry – chivalry dates back to medieval times, and was basically a code of honour type thing, telling knights how to act.

Oxford Dictionaries

You see that? Courage, honour, courtesy, justice, and ‘a readiness to help the weak’ – remember that.  Chivalry has since been adapted to just mean men being courteous towards women. And so I hear, on regular occasions, the claims that female feminists* ‘hate chivalry’ and ‘hate men being polite to them’. That is incorrect. I can tell you right now that any female feminist* will quite happily accept you holding the door open for them, and won’t in fact force you to shut it then just open it again themselves.

It isn’t that we don’t want men being ‘chivalrous’ to us – it’s that we don’t want them doing it because of our gender. If you hold the door open and tuck chairs in and carry bags for men as well, then please go ahead – you have excellent manners and we appreciate that. But if you only do those things for women, then it isn’t being polite or courteous; it’s being sexist. Even if you don’t mean to only do it for women, it comes from that ingrained societal belief that women need help and are weaker – as you can see by how this definition of chivalry developed from the original ‘readiness to help the weak’. But you can actively fight to change that, simply by applying your courteousness to every gender.

Now finally, before someone says ‘but it’s just chivalry and the definition is men being polite to women’, let me remind you that original chivalry was about being a knight. Clearly we adapted its meaning beyond that. So I assure you we can also change who chivalry now applies to, meaning everyone.

Don’t be sexist; be chivalrous. To all genders.

Thanks for reading,

*I specify ‘female feminist’ because unfortunately part of the issue with chivalry is that it’s so ancient it was defined before people realised there’s more than just two genders.

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