Chivalry vs. Feminism

Her name was Abby* and I never did understand her point of view.  It seemed, I thought, so contrary to common sense.  I was sitting on the computer reading her post on a forum.  It was one of those nights, I had some free time to catch up on the latest discussion – chivalry – and Abby boggled me.  She was the main debater against chivalry, she was a feminist.  I had never imagined a girl, let alone a Christian homeschool girl, who actually did not like a man or boy holding a door for her.  Did I say that I thought chivalry to be common sense?  Yes – but at that time I didn’t fully grasp why.  Maybe you don’t either – or maybe you, like Abby, are against chivalry too, but do you know what chivalry is?  Really?

 

First let me tell you what chivalry is not.  It is not when a guy holds a door or carries something to get a girls attention and girls, we should not take it like that or only appreciate the good looking guys who do something chivalric.  No, chivalry is a mindset, just like its opposite, feminism.  Perhaps if we understand feminism better it will help us to understand chivalry.  Feminism is completely contrary to chivalry. Webster defines feminism as: 

The theory of the politicl, economic, and social equality of the sexes or organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.

In other words, according to Webster, feminists believe that they are equal with men in everything.  This implies that they believe that they have been treated in a degrading way in the past, by being ‘forced’ to take a position in life lower then men. 

This was Abby’s logic – why should a man hold a door for her when she was physically capable of opening her own door?

Now, don’t get me wrong here, even though I have used the example of men holding doors, that is not the extent of chivalry.  That is just what most now days think of when they hear the word.  Chivalry actually comes from the medieval times when knights had a ‘code’ or a duty which they followed.  This was made up of three different parts, a knights duty to God, his duty to countrymen and fellow Christians, and his duty to women.  Chivalry is made of a much broader scope than we allow ourselves to think today.  Unfortunately, many believe that this chivalric code has gone the way of the knights of old.  That however, is not true and we must not let it die out now. 

 

 

Unfortunately, many people do not realize the importance of chivalry or understand duty, nor do people realize how degrading feminism is.  Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum who has been called “an articulate and successful opponent of the radical feminist movement” Said, “Feminism leads women to believe that their own selfish self-fulfillment is what’s most important.”  Countless families have been destroyed by its poison. Since the beginning it has destroyed women’s happiness as they willingly fell for the lies.

  Some Christian women won’t even admit it, in fact they might not even realize  that they have a feministic way of thinking, this is because feminism has been so engrained in all of our lives. 

I found this myself, I was about fourteen and I had a distinct view of how I was going to live my life.  I was going to graduate from high school, rent an apartment in LA and spend my entire life trying to get into the big movies.  I used lay in bed at night thinking of it and worrying about it, trying to figure out how to attain it.  I didn’t know what I would do when I had a family, it irked me that I might have to give up my dream career for something like taking care of children.  If you told me I was being irrational and unwise, I would have rolled my eyes, I had heard it all before, if you had told me my views were that of a feminist, I wouldn’t have believed you.  Many women are of that mindset.

Abby wasn’t the only one – I too had fallen for the lie.

 

But, I didn’t stay fallen for long.  Soon, I began to realize, that my dream wasn’t what I was meant to do.  This change in my thinking began to happen gradually.  I couldn’t even tell you when exactly I changed my mind about acting, but it did change and I am very thankful for that.  I began to see what a blessing the biblical role of a woman was: to have a family and to be a helpmeet to my husband and to be a keeper at home.  I realize now what I didn’t then, that the Lord’s way is so much better than mine is.  I still enjoy acting, but the difference is that now I no longer desire it for a career and it no longer consumes my thoughts. 

So, now that we have looked at feminism, chivalry’s opposite, it is time that we look at chivalry itself.  Though chivalry is commonly associated with knighthood during the medieval ages, its foundations can be found in the Bible.  If you look closely at the chivalric code, you will see that it is centered around one basic concept: honor.  The Bible has much to say about honor.  Romans 12:10 says “Be kindly, affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”  If you were to take the knight’s code and break it down to the basic principle behind it all you would find that this verse fully encompasses it. 

Since the beginning of time the world has concentrated on destroying all that is Godly and noble and today we can see its effects.  Both men and women lack respect for each other and women have been taught to look down on chivalric actions as condescending.  That is why Abby was offended when men opened the door for her – the world had taught her that they were only holding the door because they were superior to her and she believed it.

Chivalry and how we respond to it has to do with our hearts.  That is why truly chivalric men don’t just open the door for that ‘hot girl’ and why girls should appreciate chivalry from anyone.  Try and imagine what our world would be like without anyone being considerate what would it be like?  We are already living so much for ourselves, how much farther can we go?

Hopefully you now realize how important it is that chivalry should not die out today.  If we look at what the Bible says we can see that being chivalrous, which is also termed courteous today, is commanded :  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous (1 Peter 3:18 )   For those with a humble spirit this should not be a problem.  If we don’t appreciate chivalry for the right reasons we need to be asking ourselves why.  Is it because we think we are too good for others?

So thank you to all the men and boys who are still gentlemen and are willing to be chivalric and to the women and girls encourage and appreciate it. 

Oh and in the end… about a year after the chivalry debate began – Abby too, after all her arguments against it, finally began to appreciate chivalry.

 

*Name changed

 

 

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One Response to Chivalry vs. Feminism

  1. lyssa m says:

    Hey Jenna,

    I found your blog through facebook :).

    This is an interesting article, and very well written. I can never pass up a good controversy though, so here’s a few things – I’m not sure that that definition of feminism means that women are “equal” with men in everything… just in politics, economics, and in the social atmosphere. I think that’s Biblical – why should women be treated differently in those areas? In the same way that everyone should be equal before the law (i.e. a rich man should get the same punishment as a poor man if they commit the same crime), it seems that women should have the same political, economic, and social opportunities as men. While I realize that both equality before the law and “equal opportunity” are not always possible and in some cases they didn’t even come through in Biblical law, if they are achievable it certainly seems better than otherwise.

    There are two branches of Feminism – those that want women to simply be given the same options as men without being forced or pressured to fit into some predetermined mold (that type is basically satisfied with the progress made already); and those that are more accurately fit what you’re describing here. Those ones want just as many women as men in the military and in corporations, and things like that – they want women to seek first themselves.

    The first type seems to me to be entirely in line with the Bible. God didn’t set out a predetermined mold for either women or men; as if all women must be stay-at-home moms and all men must be bread-winners or soldiers. Although these roles are more commonly found in one or the other gender, they aren’t entirely inflexible. If you want to be actress and have a career and you feel that that is your “calling” then by all means do it – God doesn’t forbid it.

    Real Feminism merely asks for respect and dignity. Thus, if someone is made uncomfortable by having the door opened for them because they suspect baser motives, that’s not entirely wrong – it may be inaccurate, but that type of thing has certainly been known to happen. However, if someone refuses the favor out of pride or self-sufficiency, that is a different matter. We have been called to submit to one another in Christ, and as you said, that requires humility from both sexes.

    That was long… haha. I hope it made sense.

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