Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guest Post: Can Chivalry and Feminism Co-Exist in Peace?

Today's guest post comes from long time reader, regular commenter and accomplished blogger, Diva Bleu CEO. Diva Bleu is a lady with no problem stating what's on her mind. You can read more of her musings at her blog Diva's World. Today she'd like to share with the community some of her thoughts on feminism, chivalry and what do women really want. Please read, enjoy and give her your feedback in the comments.

This picture to the left says it all.
We are women. 
We want some stuff; although we’re not really sure all the time of what that is collectively…
WHATEVER it is, we want it… NOW!!!

OK… I know. Some women won’t like what I just stated, and that being the case you won’t really like what I’m about to say either. And that’s fine; I’m not here for your approval. I just wanted to put that at the forefront of this post because, as a newly minted semi-feminist, this summed up my exact thoughts…
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s a semi-feminist? Sounds like some kind of weird, hippie sex move…” Well, that could totally be true, but that’s not the context I’m using it in at the moment.  No; I’m referring to being a woman who, in reaching my 30′s, has come into her own and realized that the treatment of women in America and all over the world is sickening. Just this past election cycle here in the great ol’ U. S. of A., we ladies had to deal with so many odd, awkward and downright ludicrous attacks from so many angles, it was blinding… Binders FULL of women, anyone?  And who could forget this little nugget of crazy… “LEGITIMATE RAPE”?

Oh… GOP… you’re so psychotic. The Lilly Ledbetter Act was paraded in front of us like a show horse, trotting and bucking and full of gusto… Oh what an incredible, insane circus it was!

And the more I heard about how our issues were being placed in the hands of old, careless, crotchety men in power, the more I felt the need to speak out. I’m still finding that voice, as it were. On my own blog, Diva’s World, I explore my thoughts and lately I’ve noticed a lot more “Girl Power” in my posts, even if they do contain my harsh brand of ranting motivation. I feel like in my 20′s, I didn’t really understand the movement or the moment, but I’m finally stepping into the shoes. They feel big and overwhelming, but I’ll take the walk… 
This leads me to why I decided to write this post. The general idea began on this very website in the comment section. Yes, I know… that’s pretty much where most intelligent discourse goes to die a slow, raw, brutal, excruciating, painful death. Comment sections usually breed blind, fiery, unfailing loyalty to either one side of the posted story or the other. Usually, there is no room for grey or any other shade of perspective in the comment section of any site, no matter how “reputable” the “news organization” or blog that is giving the information…

That is precisely why I try to seek out sites where the writers and regular commentators tend to give valid and reasonable arguments, hopefully supported by facts, but at LEAST supported by sensibility. I got my wish while having a spirited debate with Shady Grady, a writer for The Urban Politico. In a post about how a 56 year old great-grandmother fended off an attacker by using a gun, Grady noted that “…feminism and fatherlessness killed chivalry…” and I felt a tug at my soul when I read that particular line. Even though the post wasn’t really about the male/female dynamic, it made its way into the fabric of the conversation. I understood his point-of-view in the broader sense; being able to protect yourself with a gun (especially as a woman, which is why I think he added the part about feminism) is a very hot button topic these days. But it was that whole point of feminism killing chivalry I took issue with. So yes, in typical Diva Bleu fashion I popped into the comments and stated agreement for the entirety of the post, save for the offending line.

Grady was on it! Peep the conversation as it unfolded in the pic below…

Mind you, this isn’t even the entire back and forth, but you get the idea. I read the links he posted and lo and behold, the general consensus is that men’s practicing of the ancient art of treating women like ladies has been killing our ability to advance. I am oversimplifying it, but this sounds kind of ridiculous to me. I mean… yes, on the one hand I totally understand how the basic premise of chivalry weakens us. The main pillar of chivalry is that women are the inferior sex and therefore must be treated as such. It is at its core, demeaning.
However, there’s a part of me that honestly has to say that not EVERY woman IS as strong as any man, physically, emotionally and mentally. Even still, some of us are content to be housewives and happy homemakers who are loved, coddled, pampered and adored by our husbands and some of us long for the business world where we can be the boss and bring home all the bacon… that doesn’t make either extreme wrong or right in the bigger picture. To me, the ability to make the CHOICE is most important.
I fall somewhere between the two paradigms; I dream of media mogul status, being the next household name like Oprah or Barbara Walters, but I also long for the family life with the doting husband, 2 kids, the dog and the picket fence. What a strange dichotomy, I suppose.
Maybe it’s because I always wanted to be both the princess AND the queen; cooed over, adored and primped, yet ruling the castle with grace and enviable regality. Go figure. But I think this is a part of both the evolution of feminism and the idea it rails against; can we be both fierce fighters for female justice AND soft, genteel ladies?

I want to say it’s possible and totally believe it, even as the crusty, old, homogeneous men try to give us the spiel on what they think is appropriate for us to do with our reproductive organs. It has been and continues to be obvious and acutely apparent that the powerful men in society STILL have an outdated and caricatured view of who women are and what we contribute to the world. Whether we are on a battlefield serving our country, teaching our country’s youth, or caring for our sick (I mention these duties because in some way or another we are disproportionately represented in each, but that’s another post), we always seem to be placed in a box.

However, to our own end, I feel like we have eschewed the delicacies of reverence and admiration that came with chivalry, and now we feel the sting. Chivalry was a man’s way of showing us respect and even if misguided, it was sweet. The challenge in understanding the sexes has always created a rift; it comes with miscommunication. But now, in our efforts to be more respected in society, misogyny has replaced what social courtesy once took for granted.
“Aye ma, come holla at me!” “Yo, you got a fat ass!” “Shake it like a salt shaker!”
Is this a painful part of what the price becomes? I know that not every woman may feel as though my stance is right, and again that’s fantastically fine. I am not here for tidy agreement; I’m here for rational, open and productive discourse on the matter.
So yes, maybe Grady is right. Maybe the Feminist movement killed chivalry… but can we agree that even though the cause is just and needs to be fought, certain things can’t be decided by the movement as a whole? I don’t want ALL of the women deciding if a gentleman walks on the street side of the sidewalk or opens my door. That’s MY decision, and I think the cause needs to be more focused on that aspect; helping all women gain the RIGHT to make THEIR own decisions. But I am merely a newly minted semi-feminist with chivalrous leanings… let’s have a discussion.

What are your thoughts?

Can Feminism and Chivalry be found together?

Is Chivalry dead? Is it now every man and woman for himself/herself?

Can/should feminist men be chivalrous?

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