Feminism. It’s equality. It’s historically and graphically dependent. It’s Roxane Gay taking down Twitter trolls. And, lately, it’s the latest trend. Hillary Clinton’s are spray painted on Williamsburg sidewalks. The Etsy market for feminist baseball hats is booming, and Forever 21 wants to be woke so bad they’re willing to (allegedly) steal for it, which is so not woke.
Even though feminism is becoming more widely accepted thanks to graphic tees and tireless politicians, there’s still one term that most people would agree goes against everything activists are fighting for: chivalry. Hopeless romance. Being wifey AF. Women supporting women is in, but women supporting women who want to be supported by a man is not.
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.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty feminist to me. Maybe not the whole knight thing, but still. Courage, justice, helping those in need… Bernie, is that you?! If a man with chivalry is a man with seemingly woke qualities, why are so many of us nervous to say that yes, we want chivalry and no, there’s nothing wrong with that?
Feminism and chivalry are not mutually exclusive. You can be a feminist and want a man who treats you like a queen. You deserve that. Feminism doesn’t mean sacrificing your relationship goals for the sake of the greater good and it certainly doesn’t mean denying yourself of love. Turning down a great guy because other women are suffering is not, in any way, going to advance the feminist movement. It’s just not. I’m the most outspoken feminist I know and still love when my husband sweeps me off my feet with grand romantic gestures. Like surprising me with fuzzy flip-flops from Amazon, because he knows my feet are sweaty AF, but I still deserve to walk on a cloud. Chivalry is not dead, it’s just in hiding. Those who want it are afraid to acknowledge it, those who receive it are afraid to admit it.
And who can blame them? In the age of “you don’t need no man” and “men are ruining everything” (which tbh, I can’t argue with), it’s no wonder that when a woman wants nothing more than to be wifey type that our instinct is to judge and bash. “What kind of example are you setting?” “Do it for the girls who can’t!” “Do you want to go back to the ‘50s when women weren’t allowed to be independent?” And, my personal favorite, “You are going against everything we are fighting for!”
I can’t deny that it’s super shitty that those who actively work to dismantle and destroy feminism are often times the ones reaping many of the benefits we have fought to give them (lookin’ at you, Tomi.) But appreciating when a dude holds a door open for you isn’t going to erase all of the progress women’s movements have made. You can want John Cusack holding a boombox over his head out your window and still fight tirelessly for human rights. You can daydream about making out with Ryan Gosling in the pouring rain and still donate to Planned Parenthood. You can be disappointed if a guy doesn’t pick up the tab and still be critical of toxic masculinity and the suffocating pressures men face. You can happily change your last name, acknowledge the problematic history behind it, and actively work towards a future where child marriage is abolished. You can’t, however, let your opinions get in the way of the actions of others.
Feminism means fighting for all people. All genders, all ethnicities, all backgrounds, all aspirations. Feminism is fighting for freedom of speech, even that relentless pro-lifer on Facebook. Feminism is fighting for equal pay, even for your arch nemesis who you’ve hated since high school and still loathe even though you don’t really know why anymore. Feminism is fighting to give women with kids accessible, affordable, and on-site daycare and women without kids freedom of unjust stigmas and backlash. And, yes, feminism is fighting for the woman who just wants to give love and receive love, no matter what your personal prerogative is. Feminism is fighting for choices: the right to make them and the right to be respected for them.
… That is, unless, you’re falling for a man who refers to himself as a “meninist.” If that’s the case, make like a banana and SPLIT.