May 08, 2011

Chivalry and Feminism: Friends or Foes? Guest Post by Kaylee Michelle Sickler

Chivalry and Feminism: friends or foes?

Women in the twenty first century gripe and complain about how men are “pigs” and that they do not know how to treat women with respect, courtesy, and manners. This seems to be a hollow accusation considering the cry from women for independence, equality, and strength to do anything and everything. “Anything you can do I can do better; I can do anything better than you.” That cute little song is practically drilled into children’s heads it seems. One may recall the dozens of commercials in the nineties in which that song almost became the young girls’ anthem. Sure, men are not very familiar with how to be kind, chivalrous, and polite. One can concur with that statement. However, the blame cannot be placed solely on the male population. Men will be gentlemen when women learn to become ladies. It is time for women to assist and liberate men in their search for the proper and adequate conduct in the presence of and towards a woman. In Generation Y, chivalry is allegedly dead because feminism has caused men to question their knowledge of what is acceptable treatment of a woman.

Saying this is not to attack feminism nor to down play or disregard the beauty of feminism at its best. Women absolutely deserve to be considered equal and have a fair shot at success. The longing for heterogeneous equivalence has been engrained in the minds of women since the birth of feminism in the late 1800s. Figures such as Lucretia Mott, Angelina Grimke, and Susan B. Anthony are all monumental in the eyes of the typical feminist for their hard work and accomplishments in the women’s suffrage movement as well they should be. What an honor it is for women to have role models who attained the title of being some of the first feminists. To these ladies may one say, “Well done.” Unfortunately, the rise of feminism over the past two centuries has grown to the extent of making some men uncomfortable. Thus, they have had to cope and adjust to the rise of extreme independence in women which has, in some aspects, crippled men of gentlemanly nature. The intention of feminists is certain to have not meant harm to the noblemen in their midst; unfortunately it appears as though it has done so to a greater extent than could have been expected.  A student at Metro State College in Denver, Colorado, mentioned that the mindset (in more than one situation) of those who are raised in a certain environment and with certain morals and ideals, mature and age with the thought that that is how things ought to be – even to the degree of considering them proper and necessary. Could it be that the lack of wanted propriety from men and the intense amount of liberated will-power from women has simply become first nature to Generation Y? There are those who claim to be a feminist but also a supporter of gentlemanly behavior who could stand in strong opposition to that assumption.

Generation Y has been raised in a society where their mothers had participated in providing financial support by working just as much as or more than their paternal figures. Women in the work place have been portrayed as the strong, emotionless, solo artists in practically every aspect and occupation. The goal of being equal to men has leaked over into the realm of their emotional expression in the way of not appearing to be weak and sensitive by revealing how they feel about a certain occurrence. Equality comes at a price. Single mothers reign as the heroine of today; some of them go to school full time, work and still raise their children sufficiently. Practically all would agree that what these women do is amazing and deserves to be recognized and rewarded with kind thoughts and a realization of how much they truly achieve on a day-to-day basis.

It can be questioned, much like in the article by Charles Clark, “Feminism’s Future: Is the women’s movement growing or losing power?” regarding feminism as to whether or not women still face sexism. Sure, there will always be that group who is going to thoroughly stand against any movement that is brought into existence. In all honesty, women have a greater advantage in most situations compared to men in the present. All women really have to do is claim that someone was being sexist in order to get her way in the majority of circumstances. When a police officer pulls an individual over, the chances of a man getting off are slim to none compared to that of a woman. Men cannot flirt and manipulate their way into bars and clubs as easily as women. In the work place, women have made great success as far as advancement, promotions, and holding leadership positions. There is still some debate on the equality of pay rates; in all reality, one must look at the accomplishments in the past few decades. According to a graph shown in Sara Glazers article, “Future of Feminism: Are women returning to a 1950’s mindset?” in 2004, pay rates were almost the same for men and women alike. Obviously, when it comes to physical ability, men are going to have a higher rate of dominance. Biologically men were created for strength and agility in strenuous activities. Women, do not have has much upper body strength but possess a greater emotional resilience over the long term. It cannot be helped if there are different standards for men and women in the areas of sports, military, and related fields. It is not necessarily done out of sexism, but out of natural ability and somewhat of a protection. Women were created with the incredible ability to host another human being during his/her gestation period. As one can see, there are many invaluable differences that cannot easily be compared. Men and women are unique but equally as worthy and beneficial.

There is a proposal that has been presented by some: getting back to the basics of gender interaction. It would be in the interest of both males and females to consider what this would entail. This is not necessarily suggesting that society takes it to the point of taking up the stature of being an “old-fashioned hippy”, but merely to define mannerly behavior. Modesty is one of those things to be considered. Some women become enraged when they catch men looking at their “valuables” when they are wearing a low cut blouse. Others enjoy this sense of power and control that women possess over men by simplicity of body language. One must consider the kind of behavior and feedback longed for from the opposite sex. It must be determined and premeditated what kind of response is being encouraged by ones appearance. Of course men need to control their lustful desires but along with that, women need to help men along the way. If one plays with fire, they are sure to get burned. Women can cause men to think, “What I see is what I get!” Individuals must be weary not to advertise what they are not willing to sell.
“Heralds in the Age of Chivalry” portrays men in the Middle Ages as individuals who deserve to be honored and commemorated for their acts of bravery and noble presentation of their manliness. The men shown in the images and described in the stories sound like a group of fearsome bodies to behold. The illustration of these warriors brings to mind the characters from childhood story books and films. Prince Charming is surely on the minds of several young ladies who are hoping to be swept off their feet and carried away into their happily ever after. Men like these can vaguely be labeled as manly men; these figures are strong and yet caring, protective yet confident, indulgent yet tender. Manly men seem to be few and far between in the eyes of searching women. Some men have the appearance of having given up on being chivalrous. Maybe there has been a few too many turn downs in their quest for a woman to care for. Perhaps they have come to the conclusion that they are not searching for an affectionate relationship but rather a no strings attached dating excursion. Whatever the case may be, some men have determined that "If chivalry is dead, it's only because feminism is alive” (Hyde).  While there is some legitimacy behind this statement, it is a sore excuse.

There are some incidents when a man genuinely wants to be a gentleman. Too often though, women become highly offended and will occasionally send a guy on his way if he offers an act as simple as opening a door or paying for dinner. Independence appears to come with a steep cost now-a-days. Women almost have to choose between being independent and having a gentleman. Some women ought to wonder if the tradeoff is worth the rate. Surely there must be a peaceful center betwixt this confusing predicament.
The galvanizing website titled The Art of Manliness is quite intriguing in the fact that it motivates men to regain that sense of noble dignity and encourages them to look beyond the expectations of society. With articles including the broadness of common sense clauses, correctly tailored suits, pipes and what a man ought to do when his wife is pregnant, this site clearly covers much ground on things a man may want to know. However, it is not a sexist or bias organization at all. None of the content is targeted to suppress women and their views. On the contrary, their goal is to simply “[Revive] the lost art of manliness” (McKay). One can relish in the fact that there are individuals who are in fact looking for this sense of balance between the sexes. Certainly, there is more to the relation amongst men and women than eternal competition and bickering about equality and liberating oneself in the opportunity to trample the opinions of the opposite sex.

“Okay, if men are manning up, what are women going to do to follow suit?” (McKay). In the article, “What Can Manly Men Expect of Women?” the authors cover some important aspects in the quest for equilibrium. The McKay’s discuss the idea that if women are expecting men to step up and better themselves that they have to be willing to do the same. Rather than becoming easily offended by ignorant remarks made by men, women can take it as a grain of salt and work alongside those males whom they would like to see develop and mature. There is a cartoon graphic within the article in which it shows a man and a woman having a conversation. The woman is shown describing how she wants her man to have a nice car, a great body, be a gentleman and be romantic. The man responds saying that he is favorable towards a woman who can cook; of course, the woman gets offended and calls him out as a sexist.  There is something wrong with this picture. It appears as though women have become very sexist themselves in this struggle for equality and rights. Men deserve respect as much as women deserve it; that is a statement which if argued, would be done so out of arrogant chatter. “Some feminists still seem to hold to this idea-that men and women are equal, but really-wink, wink- we all know that men are actually pigs” (McKay). That doesn’t exactly insinuate a uniform idea of civil rights. This double standard is somewhat an exhaustive excuse in the selfish longing for some of the bigot minded women participating in the belief of this ideal. There is a hope that one can be empowered and yet accept polite gestures at the same time. Seemingly, this is a plausible achievement that is not far from society’s grasp.

One must determine how they would like others to construct an opinion of them. It is a well know fact that first impressions make the lasting impression. Men and women concurrently must be cautious of how they present themselves if they desire a certain opinion to be made. Consider that which one longs from the critics whom operate within every human being. If one is not currently the person who is desired to be seen, then something must be done to change that. It is a valuable asset to be knowledgeable and aware of the aspired speculations from peers.
Both men and women need to work hard to excel their actions towards one another; different characteristics need to be dealt with in different ways depending on the person’s unique attributes. The diversity of the issues at hand does not lessen their importance in any way, shape or form. Just as parents must teach their children, so society must train themselves to be concerned about the problem which belongs to them. The act of informing an acquaintance of a splinter in his/her eye does no good if there is a plank in the eye of the beholder. Hypocrisy is not an easy fault to dismiss.

Undoubtedly feminism and chivalry have battled over the years for their place in society. It is a reasonable inquiry to wonder if they can survive in each other’s company. However, the idea cannot be a long way off from thought when the goals of feminism were once a farfetched dream in the minds of few. There were many who protested the idea of women’s rights and detested the thought of women speaking unless spoken to. The idea of equilibrium between chivalry and feminism could be looked at as a step back for women and all of their accomplishments. On the contrary, if this serene symmetry were to be reached some could support and declare it a great accomplishment in appreciating diversity. Open-mindedness and understanding others is a praised property in the land of the free. Indubitably, feminism and chivalry can become a famed pair aside of their differences and past struggles in the near future.

 By Kaylee M. Sickler

Works Cited
Clark, Charles S. “Feminism’s Future: Is the women’s movement growing or losing power?” CQ Researcher 7.8 (1997). CQ Press. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.
Glazer, Sarah. “Future of Feminism: Are women returning to a 1950’s mindset?” CQ Researcher 16.14 (2006). CQ Press. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.
Hyde, Cody. 1 May 2011. “My motto for the day: "If chivalry is dead, it's only because feminism is alive" – Me”
Keen, Maurine. “Heralds in the Age of Chivalry.” Chivalry.  34.3 (1984): 133-39. EBSCOhost. Web. 25 April 2011.
McKay, Brett and Kate. “What Can Manly Men Expect of Women? The Art of Manliness. 2010. Web. 25 April 2011.
Severin, Jessica. 5 May 2011. “I want my rights and opinions, and I also want Prince Charming.”

1 comment:

Josh Martin said...

Great post!

Josh Martin