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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Feminism and chivalry

To the Editor:

Kane Kunz '11 articulated the pressing issue that "feminists need to choose: chivalry or equality" ("Anti-sexism posters turn heads," Nov. 2). Despite this statement's inanity, it does seem to represent a popular, albeit ignorant, point of view.

The obvious answer aside (that most feminists would without hesitation chose equality), the idea that these two qualities are mutually exclusive seems unnecessary. Since when do basic acts of courtesy go hand in hand with condescension and misogyny? Perhaps at one point chivalry referred to some medieval code of conduct that stemmed from a gendered hierarchy (every word has an etymology), but this is completely divorced from the simply niceties that we label as chivalrous here at Dartmouth. If I tell somebody how nice they look or offer to pay for dinner, am I necessarily asserting that women need to look perfect or that they expect and need to be provided with food (I would, after all, expect compensatory compliments and meals)? I don't think so, although I can understand how some would perceive such actions that way. However, Kunz seems to take this to an utter extreme, implying that somehow buying flowers for somebody inherently goes along with the public humiliation and sexual exploitation that the "Daughters of Dartmouth" are criticizing. Obviously this notion is absurd.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines chivalrous as "marked by honor, generosity, and courtesy." Huh. It seems that to avoid choosing between chivalry and equality all that is entailed is everybody treating each other with a little courtesy and respect. Go play some more pong, Kane. It is Wednesday, after all.