Did Feminism Kill Chivalry?
If you believe sexism is the overt prejudice of one sex against another, or that it involves antagonistic behavior such as verbal abuse or bullying, many feminists say you are only half accurate. A number of psychologists now believe in the existence of a more covert form of sexism, one they believe is all the more insidious because it is masked by smiles and pleasantries. It has been coined “benevolent sexism,” and it may prove to be a death knell for chivalry.
A study published in the journal Sex Roles filmed 27 pairs of United States college students as they mingled over a trivia game. Their interactions were then reviewed by experts who dissected them for evidence of sexism. And where did they find this evidence? Not in rude comments or angry facial expressions, but in positive language and patience shown toward female participants by some of their male counterparts.
These men were also judged by their answers to the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, an assessment that measured their response to statements such as “a good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man” and “women are too easily offended.” The study further asserted that those who responded favorably to the former statement did so out of an insidious belief that women are the weaker sex and in need of male protection and kindness.
Conclusion: Beware of chivalrous men.
But what if you are a woman who likes to have your chair pulled out, a door opened for you, or your meal paid for by your date? According to the wisdom of experts, you are being subtlety seduced by a patriarchy bent on keeping you in your proper place by chaining you with warm smiles and niceties.
“Benevolent sexism is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing that perpetuates support for gender inequality among women at an interpersonal level,” writes Judith Hall, a coauthor of the study. “These supposed gestures of good faith may entice a woman to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally looks welcoming, appealing and harmless.”
Most feminists believe that showing special honor to a woman demeans her abilities and competency. They believe that when a man wishes to help a woman it must mean he believes she cannot help herself. While this may be true of some men, what is the alternative to opened doors and kind tones? What happens to a society that ridicules the virtues of gentlemanliness and chivalry and teaches men that it is wrong to view women as needing protection?
The #MeToo movement and men like Harvey Weinstein are the aberrant children of feminist philosophy. Feminism encourages women to be independent, “sexually liberated” creatures and then strips them of the societal norms that should protect them. Is it any wonder that depraved men have become more emboldened in their proclivities?
“Ironically, the best solution to sexual predation is not more feminism, but less,” said political commentator Heather Mac Donald during an April 18 speech at Hillsdale College. “By denying the differences between men and women, and by ridiculing the manly virtues of gentlemanliness and chivalry and the female virtues of modesty and prudence, feminism dissolved the civilizational restraints on the male libido. The boorish behavior that pervades society today would have been unthinkable in the past, when a traditional understanding of sexual propriety prevailed.”
While modern feminism seems to claim that men and women are equal and the same, the Bible states that God created men and women to be different (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4). It also states that God designed women as the “weaker vessel,” one that the men in their lives should honor. Because of this intentional design, men should willingly open doors for women, offer them their jacket when they are cold, and generally show them honor. The idea that women require no special treatment is diametrically opposite of what the Bible teaches.
In his book Biblical Manhood, Joel Hilliker addresses this subject:
God gave the man a greater capacity for physical strength than He did the woman. He also gave him a tougher mental and emotional temperament than the woman, whom He calls “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7).
That is not to say that the woman is or should be weak. God exalts strength in women (e.g. Proverbs 31:17). However, He designed her capacity for physical strength to be less, and for her to express her strength differently than a man.
In giving half the population greater physical, mental and emotional toughness, God intends us to build a sense of unselfish responsibility to protect, provide for and defend the other half. This law is plainly evident within nature itself.
“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). God wants us to use that strength to benefit others. He gave it to us to build a godly mindset: Support, care for and protect those who are weaker—including women, the “weaker vessel.”
The world needs a new kind of sexual revolution. One where we wholeheartedly return to our God-given gender roles and admit that tampering with them only breeds suffering. We need men who are willing to champion and honor women; and we need modest women who reciprocate that honor with deference.
If you’re interested in joining this movement, you can start by reading The Missing Dimension in Sex, by Herbert W. Armstrong.