Chivalry and feminism can coexist


Kernel Opinion SIG

Kellsie Kennedy

Feminism has an active presence on UK’s campus and is an increasing topic of discussion in our country. With new waves of female rights battles, female politicians and wage disputes, let’s talk about chivalry, a practice that, like feminism, is often misunderstood. 

As a self-proclaimed feminist and woman, people often ask me how I feel about chivalry. When I think of chivalry, I think of pulled-out chairs and opened doors. I think of paid dinners and walking on the inside of the sidewalk. Some of these seem outdated even without analysis. People no longer chuck dirty water and empty their bed pans on the street, so why should it matter where a woman stands on the sidewalk?

I like going on dates where I get to sit back and keep my credit card in my wallet. I also like paying for dinner. I like when a door is opened for me, and I like rushing ahead and getting the door for others. It is a matter of whether or not my hands are full and the nearness of my pay day rather than my gender.

Adler Hulsey, a senior environmental sustainability major at UK, said he learned about chivalry from his mother, who is “a very strong and powerful woman.”

“I knew she could open doors for herself…” he said. “Chivalry wasn’t about me helping a weak woman, it was about me respecting and being polite to others.”

Adler also added that he believes chivalry can coexist and “even thrive” together.

“Because chivalry is rooted in respect, it means a chivalrous person will stand by and support others. It doesn’t think less of people, and it wants them to be respected and treated equally,” he said. “Chivalry wants justice, no matter who the person is, no matter their political stance and no matter what they’ve done.”

Today’s chivalry should just be the idea that people should do nice things for others. Some may think of this as a “random act of kindness.”

Some people think chivalry should be absolved in the face of feminism. True feminism, the idea that men and women should be treated equally, would not recommend being less kind by not acting in this way. The faults with chivalry are not those of men. Rather, women should raise themselves to return those kindnesses to others. Why should chivalry even be a matter of gender? It makes much more sense to display these kindnesses to all people regardless of gender.