May, 23, 2013

Is feminism destroying love?

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Name: Anila Dhami
Member of: Student Panellist
Joined: February 2009
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This is a response to ‘Edward Cullen is a possessive, woman beating stalker’

Number one best-seller and phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey has received mixed opinions especially with regards to feminism. I hold strong feminist views yet believe that this story affirms the ‘modern woman’ through main protagonist Anastasia Steele who refrains from succumbing to the perfect Christian Grey. Unlike every other woman that submits to his charms, she asserts herself and this is the reason that he is able to fall in love; regardless of his traumatic childhood.

Photo by Lily

The book also represents the characteristics of the perfect man. Although Grey has various problems that beautifully unfold within the love story, he epitomises what every woman is searching for; quite simply – a gentleman. He is gentle, caring, and, more enticingly, over-protective. Some feminists or women in general may question why a modern woman, who is independent and able to protect herself, would want a man that is over-protective?

I have always battled with the question: should a man pay for dinner on the first date or should women pay half? On the one hand, women want to be equal to men, yet on the other hand, we still want men to behave like gentlemen.

Thus, I return to answer the question of why a woman would want an over-protective man who shows a woman that he will fight her battles on her behalf, by using a quotation from the 2011 best seller Gabriel’s Inferno. Female protagonist Julianne Mitchell states to her lover Gabriel ‘you are overprotective’ to which he replies ‘this is how a man behaves when he’s in love.’

Why reject over-protectiveness if this is what love is, unless we are trying to recreate the idea of love to fit with the notion of the ‘New Woman’? Are the terms ‘chivalry’ and ‘feminism’ colliding, and if so, should they be? Are we emasculating men and losing the meaning of love in the pursuit to overcome sexism?

I do not attempt to speak on behalf of all women as I do not have such authority or knowledge to do so. I am merely putting forth that by submitting to the medieval chivalry that these novels portray, we are not leaving behind the ‘New’ but strengthening what it means to be a ‘Woman’; treated with respect by men. Maybe by seeking this idyllic vision, we will raise the status of women and combat the domestic abuse that some women suffer.

‘When a man kneels before a woman, it’s a gesture of chivalry. When a woman kneels before a man, it’s unseemly.’ ~ Gabriel’s Inferno

With reference to the article ‘Edward Cullen is a possessive, woman-beating stalker’, the writer of this article dismisses both characters Edward and Bella as one-dimensional but I beg to differ. What I find most fascinating about Twilight, as well as Fifty Shades of Grey, is the relations of power between the male and female protagonists. Michel Foucault argues that power is not a vertical structure but it functions in various ways. This is apparent in both Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey where power is negotiated. The signing of the contract in Fifty Shades is so interesting because the rules of the contract are transgressed, compromised, broken and eventually gotten rid of completely.

Furthermore, the article states that Meyer ‘believes that because she loves women and admires them, she automatically becomes a feminist. Nowhere in this article does she mention about equal rights for women…instead focus is placed on the fact she got married at 21 and then had children.’ One of the greatest problems that the feminist movement faces is the term ‘feminism’ itself and pinpointing exactly what it means. I believe that one of the fundamental elements of feminism is that women should have a choice – whether that choice is to be a housewife or a businesswoman. I do not believe in equality because I believe that striving to be equal with men is like holding up a mirror and wanting to replicate that reflection. Instead, women can, if given the chance, be the image that is to be reflected and replicated.

And what does ‘equality’ mean? Why are we constantly banging our heads against the term ‘equality’ without taking into consideration our individual abilities and preferences? Returning to the subject of this article – romance – do we really want men to stop opening car doors, buying us flowers, protecting us because we are independent women and can protect ourselves? If so, maybe we do not need men at all? Society, in all its socio-political conflicts, will have truly gotten rid of the most important aspect of life; love.

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  1. David Reynolds

    As far as equality is concerned too many mix up equality of opportunity with equality of outcome. Such people see it as problematic that far more men occupy positions of power than women. As the author here suggests there should be equality of opportunity that affords a woman the choice of housewife or business woman or in some cases both. Such equality of opportunity does not however translate to equality in outcome.

    As to romance or even just being a gentleman there are women offended by a man holding a door for them. The feminists in our University are said to be of such a disposition. An “offence” I suspect born out of false idealism rather than true morality. Likewise there are those women who believe they have been sexually harassed when a man they don’t fancy shows an interest in them. I recall a recent example of a woman recounting a story of how after a conference she chatted with man in the hotel bar until the early hours of the morning. In the lift returning to their respective rooms, she recounts, how the man said “don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you really interesting would you like to have coffee in my room?” This she says made her feel “very uncomfortable”. Such hair trigger responses are what kills romance. I agree with this article completely.

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  2. Charlotte Cawkwell

    The problem with some feminists is that they can be too feminist. Yes, it is wrong and disrespectful to hit a woman, but why should it be okay for women to hit men? Some women can be far more forceful than men but just because they are a female does not automatically give them to right to hit a man and it not be a problem. The whole idea of feminism is to provide equality among the sexes, but some women are taking advantage of this. Yes I do believe that women should get equal pay and be able to do what job we like but we create our own stereotypes. Have you ever seen a woman doing manual work on the railway? No. That’s because we judge people and we have made our own stereotype that women should not do manual work. If a woman saw another woman doing manual work they would look down on you. Women believe that they should just do managerial and office based jobs which is wrong. I know it’s hard for some women to manage to get certain jobs, like being a barrister (unless employed by CPS) they would not get the time off for maternity leave due to being self employed, but other jobs as well. I do believe that women should be equal to men but some people forget that it is our role to bring new life into the world and that is our biggest job, to bring and raise new life so that the human race can carry on. Everyone, whether male or female, should have equal rights and society should not be female nor male dominated. I agree with Erin, if you want equality than be a humanist.

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  3. Erin Lynch

    My problem with feminism is that it makes no discussion of men. I class myself as a humanist, I would like all people on this planet to be safe, happy and able to fulfill whatever they desire for their own life. I had a friend who, after completing a college course to become a nursery teacher became pregnant with her boyfriend of 5 years. It disturbed me to hear comments such as “what a waste” when the girl and her partner were both very happy, financially secure and supportive of each other. When women choose to have children and stay at home, they are immediately branded as weak by the feminist community or oppressed by their partners. I thought women had fought for the CHOICE to do what they wanted with their lives but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Feminism also bothers me in that it doesn’t fight for equality, it fights for female domination. Yes, there is a glass ceiling in terms of female careers. Can this be solved without also fighting for male rights? No, it can’t. Currently, one of the fundamental reasons that women have problems progressing in the work place is that they take time off for maternity leave. Many men struggle to get more than 2 weeks off when their child is born, despite many men wishing to stay at home with their new child. Employers are more likely to promote a man as they will not take time off when their children are born than a woman who takes a far longer period of time away from the work place. We can’t solve that without giving men a decent paternity leave that is equal to that of a woman’s!
    Some of the comments I’m reading here seem to have missed the point of this article. Nowhere in this article does it say that women should accept domestic violence just because a man is chivalrous. That is completely ludicrous. What the article is trying to say is that if a man behaves like a gentleman, it’s not some vicious attack on you as a woman. I am very protective of my partner, I love him and don’t want anyone to hurt him or upset him. Why should I see it as oppressive if he wishes to be protective of me? Having a protective partner does NOT equate to domestic violence.
    As for the novels in question in this article, it still astounds me that people get so irritated with these characters. They’re fictional! Actually, the character of Edward Cullen doesn’t bother me in the slightest, the character of Bella is the one I find infuriating. He initially watches her sleeping because he’s considering eating her; he’s a vampire, in my books that is a pretty logical reason for being in her room. What is her excuse in the second novel for the sheer desperation and inability to live her life without a man? As for 50 shades of Grey, no-one claims that the character of Christian is ‘normal’ and that he should in any way be a role model for other men. He has a traumatic childhood and demons that he clearly has to deal with [and tries to] within the novel and he doesn’t attack Anna; she fully consents to what they are doing and when she isn’t happy, she asserts her own authority.
    I’m bored of feminism; I don’t like that the majority of feminists see fit to criticize other women, I don’t like that they fail to consider the needs and struggles of men and I don’t like how they twist every, single scenario so it can be used as an example of male dominance. For those who genuinely want equality for all humans, then become a Humanist because if Feminists are left in charge, men won’t have any place left in our society.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Erin, many thanks for reading my article and taking the time to leave such an in-depth comment. I think you have touched on the crux of my article and it’s purpose – highlighting the effect that I think feminism has had on men in the modern day. I have highlighted some characteristics traditionally associated with men and their expression of love and assessed how I think the feminism movement has changed them to adapt with the ‘Modern Woman’ yet believe that these characteristics shouldn’t be changed. Ultimately, however, I do believe in a genderless society but until women achieve equality in all parts of the world, feminist should and will continue to exist. Until equality is attained we cannot achieve a genderless society or Humanity. Many thanks again!

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  4. Bethany White

    Everything is about sex these days so it is becoming quite common that women are finally standing up for themselves. Some good points made.

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  5. N

    I like how you equate gentlemanly behaviour with love. So if he opens the door for you but has no respect for you in the home and treats you like he is superior to you, you are ignoring ‘love’ by demanding equality! Miss, you are the reason why women cannot talk or even think about equality, love how you quote Twilight and 50 shades, it’s like you’re saying, ‘women you deserve to be beaten and to remain helpless and dependent on your man.” Wow.
    I believe an equal status would mean both share the bill and both respect each other and both make decisions together. I’d use that to know whether they are in love or not.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi N, many thanks for reading and commenting. The beauty of Literature is interpretation. As previously stated in my comments, this is an article focusing on some aspects of love in these novels as opposed to my opinion on what love is and what constitutes love. As I said, interpretation is a wonderful use of free will but my article, I feel has been misinterpreted, where you have stated that I speak about equality whereas my views on the feminist movement, equality and gender distinctions have not been touched on in this article. This article is merely addressing what I think the impact of feminism is upon the characteristics traditionally associated with men, and have stated why I believe that those traditions shouldn’t be broken. If you would like to know my opinions of feminism, women, equality and gender distinctions please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJ7ne9KOdX4 I would like to hear your opinions after watching my YouTube clip. Thanks once again.

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  6. Dwk

    As a woman, of course I believe that the foundations of feminism – equal pay for equal work and such are important, however women themselves seem to have taken the more extreme views of this rhetoric too far. Many women today are simply too aggressive (they mask it by calling it assertive), mean-spirited, competitive, overly confident, yet know nothing, insanely ambitious (you get bs snark from even the lowest level admin assistant trying to claw their manicured fingertips to the top of the dung heap LOL!) and uber materialistic which is the primary reason that I work from home. I just don’t want to be around most women anymore, sad to say, because they seem to have adopted some of same negative qualities as the worst type of man – the very same kind of man that they profess to despise!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Dwk, many thanks for reading and commenting. I agree with that to some extend, and do believe in eradicating gender distinctions. But on the other hand, if women are soaring ahead of men – good for them! But to change the characteristics traditionally associated with men that are nice characteristics such as gentlemanly behaviour, that is something I disagree with. Many thanks again!

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  7. Senasa Rajendramoorthy

    You had some pretty good points there! Love is being destroyed..

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for your comments Senasa

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  8. Manja

    … did you read the same book as I ? Because I read a turd of a book about an abusive, manipuative bastard in dire need for therapy, who never gave room for power negotioation – he handed Ana the contract, she signed, that’s it. … oh, the rule breaking?? ignoring safe words. He doesn’t respect her boundaries. He tramples over them. That’s NOT a power dynamic, that’s abuse.

    … and where, pray tell, does this piece of bread we got for a protagonist does not “succumb”? She’d do anything to get him as boyfriend, performing sexual acts she doesn’t feel comfortable at all – and only stops not because she doesn’t feel good with it but because he’s not her boyfriend. (which is a legit reason, and all, but really – saying “I’ll continue doing this if we get together properly”… where the hell is THAT empowering?!)



    oh, and.. I always tended to interpret “overprotective” as “clingy, easily jealous and infantilizing me in order to assert power over me” in my past relationships because guess what – it was.

    Really – sort out yourself and reflect on what you call feminism.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Manja, many thanks for your comments and for reading my article. The beauty of Literature is in its interpretation. Thank again!

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  9. April Astley

    Men should not be so offended by women being strong and independent, its modern times get with it. I don’t think there should be such a label as feminism, we should all be classed as equal though.

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    • Anila Dhami

      I agree. Thank you for reading and commenting April.

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  10. Sarah Harris

    You shouldn’t label yourself as someone with ‘strong feminist views’, because from what I’ve just read, you’re really not. Feminism is just equality. And you actively said you don’t agree with equality, which has me wondering whether to scratch my head or throw the computer out the window. Equality is about both genders getting the same treatment, and if you think women shouldn’t be treat with the same level of respect or seen as having the same value as men just because they don’t have a d***, then you’re.. just.. not a feminist. It’s that simple.

    Also, reading through your comments it’s clear you feel men have to pay for the first date. How is that fair on either gender? The women are being thought of as less financially secure and unable to survive without men, whilst the men are paying unequally for something they’re getting equal experience from. What if they’re the ones without any money whilst the woman is loaded?! Feminism is equality for all, and saying one gender should be financially responsible for the other is just.. ughhhh.

    Everyone has the freedom to say their own opinions, I have my ways and you have yours. Just please, please, please don’t call yourself a feminist because feminists preach equality, not gender discrimination :(

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Sarah, many thanks for reading and for your comments. I do believe in gender equality. The problem with feminism is that everyone thinks that their opinion and version of it is right. Feminism is the fight for women to have equal rights to men. I don’t believe in that conventional view of feminism anymore because I believe that women should, and can, lead the way. And with every movement and political action comes consequences. This article focuses on and analyses some of those consequences. I think you feel I am gender discriminating because unlike most feminists, I am considering the position of men. There is nothing wrong with that – in fact isn’t that striving for equality more than just considering the position of women? Thanks once again for reading my article!

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  11. Sepideh Akbarian-Tefaghi

    I completely agree with feminism, it’s just a shame that men quickly become defensive and regard it as a synonym for male-hatred when feminism is really about equality of the 2 genders.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Indeed. Thank you for your comments.

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  12. Anila Dhami

    Thanks for reading and for your comments Bela! My repsonse to your comments on Fifty Shades and Twilight is simply ‘the beauty of literature is its endless interpretations’! I like your final point that ‘true equality will always take personal preferences into account’. Personally, I believe that personal preferences should always be taken into account regardless of equality – for, gender does not define us. Thanks again for commenting!

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  13. Chloe Brown

    Women appear to be striving more so for feminism than ever and that does seem to kill love. What is so wrong with allowing a man to love you it is in our basic human instinct to want a man who is protective and powerful. Surely we should be able to trust in love that we have one person who truly values us and then we cannot say that we are not treated unfairly.

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  14. Bela Lugosi

    If Fifty Shades and Twilight seem a good example of love to you then I am glad that your definition of love is being destroyed.

    Possessive, violent, lashing out is not love. It is abuse.
    I could not stand to be in a relationship of the type that these stories hold up. Stifling, restrictive, cages.

    Feminism doesn’t ask that men stop doing nice things for women – though some feminists might. All it asks is for us to think about what we do and why.
    True equality will always take personal preferences into account.

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  15. Chido Kanotangudza

    Feminism destroys love to some extent. Some feminists presents characters such as Anastasia Steel as being week for falling for a man but ignore most of her positive qualities. As we all know, there is still room for improvement in terms of gender equality in society however, women also have some unfair characteristics. For example, I have read many articles of women denying good men access to their children and women who intentionally get pregnant with the hopes that this will force the man to stay with them. In my opinion, this is unfair towards men therefore I feel both genders need to improve.

    Even though feminism is affecting love, I do still feel that it is unfair to ignore the necessary changes feminism is causing in terms of giving women more independence and ability to take care of them own without needing help from anyone.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for reading my article and commenting Chido!

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  16. Elidh Devlin-Alce

    I don’t understand how you can believe that love isn’t possible without outdated social conventions, which date back to a time when women were expected to be emotionally and financials dependant on men. If your in a relationship which couldn’t last without a man opening doors for you, you can’t be in love.

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    • Anila Dhami

      I am not at all saying that love cannot survive without these qualities but I am focusing on some qualities traditionally associated with men and analysing how they have been impacted upon by the feminist movement.

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  17. Rozalia Bach

    Wonderful post.

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  18. Rozalia Bach

    I love it when my boyfriend takes care of me and acts like a gentlemen. He can make me breakfast, dinner… And he doesn’t do it because he feels that he has to in order to make me happy. He does it because he loves me and gains satisfaction when doing it.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thank you Rozalia. And that sounds wonderful. It is great to hear that your boyfriend isn’t afraid of getting in the kitchen – real gender equality right there!

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  19. Elidh

    I don’t think things like chivalry and being a gentleman are necessary for love. It was necessary for men to buy things for, and protect, women in a time when women weren’t expected to work, or stand up for themselves. However in modern society this expectation puts unnecessary pressure on men, and creates a sence of financial and emotional delendance in women. I agree with what you said about having the right to choose to be a house wife, but shouldn’t that apply to men as well? Wouldn’t it be better to say that the highest earner could pay, instead of always being the man. Also I don’t understand how you can believe that love isn’t possible without partners following bizarre social conventions e.g. Chivalry, why can’t a relationship be based on people with an emotional connection enjoying each others company, and treating each other with respect.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for reading and for your comments Elidh! Yes it may have been necessary, but now it isn’t – which makes it all the more romantic no?! Although that is my personal preference, as is your personal preference of not needing chivalry or gentlemanliness for love (although I don’t think they are necessary for love, I think they are just some qualities of love and the main qualities that are suppressed by feminism). Also, in a modern society I believe that this isn’t putting pressure on men but reinforcing what is traditional which is not so bad – ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’. My argument is merely that traditional aspects of behaviour traditionally associated to men such as chivalry and gentlemanliness are not bad things and women, in their strive to become the ‘New Woman’, should not oppress those qualities that are actually good in men. Yes we don’t need looking after. But if a man is protective, why change it just to fit feminism and the concept of the modern woman? I agree men can be housewives and that the highest earner pays – once again that is personal preference. And with regards to your last point, I will refer back to a point in this reply which is that chivalry and the other qualities that I have written about in this article are just some aspects of love that I chose to focus on in particular as I feel they are the aspects that I feel have been most impacted by the feminist movement. If you want my opinion of what love is, it is simply two best friends who have recognised that their souls belong together and they want to share their lives with each other (cue puke!) ;) I am far from following social conventions – whoever thought of Valentines Day?! Thanks again for your in-depth comments!

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  20. Conor Deery

    Feminism is often blurring the lines of what it is to be a man and what it is to be a women. If I open the door for a women, does that make me a misogynous? If I have a masculine persona does that mean I cannot empathise with women? If feminism is equal rights for men and women then it is not a problem, if it’s to make men and women the same it’s disastrous. Men and women are different and therefore their desires are different. However if a women wants to be more masculine then that’s fine, but do not lead a revolution, instead be content in your own happiness.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Conor! Thanks for reading and commenting. I like your comments! I don’t think feminism is trying to make men and women the same at all; although some people do argue for genderlessness but this is not what my article is about. My article is more about the type of questions you raise and the confusion that striving to become a modern woman has had for men. And I like that ‘be content in your own happiness’ – because at the end of the day every one is individual and different and gender isn’t the only defining factor of our personalities! Thanks again for your comments!

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  21. Amber Cummings

    Feminism isn’t destroying love. It’s main purpose is to gain equality for women and to stop patriarchy. We just want to be respected and treated the same as men. Perhaps radical feminists could be argued to be trying to stop heterosexual relationships and love, but the sole purpose of feminism is to gain equality. Love is irrelevant.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for reading and commenting Amber! I agree Amber that the purpose of feminism is to gain equality. However, the movement is not just strictly about this and has other facets and aspects to it that are for the pursuit of better conditions for women yet have a direct, consequential, effect on men. More specifically, the concept of the “New Woman” and the checklist of what it means to be a modern woman affects the status and position of what it means to be a man and how a man should behave (regardless of the belief of whether or not society should be genderless)! For example, some women no longer want to be protected by men but protection can be viewed as a chivalrous act for some men. I am speaking very broadly and generally of course about some men, some women, some feminists, but still focusing and honing in on these specific aspects in this article.

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  22. Hazal Erdogan

    Radical feminists destroy love, not all feminists

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for the comment Hazel! You may indeed be right!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Apologies at spelling your name wrong Hazal.

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  23. Paige Sandfort

    Feminism IS destroying love!!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for the comment Paige!

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  24. gurveen dang

    These are some very good points I really enjoyed reading this :D

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thank you Gurveen!

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  25. Hazel Johnson

    Completely agree with this post!!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks Hazel!

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  26. Matthew Davis

    A well thought out and balanced article. As you identify, I think the main issue here is that feminism and romance are completely separate. You can be a feminist and still enjoy being a woman (and married). Any man worth his weight would treat a potential romantic interest favourably, so it isn’t about who pays for the first date.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for reading and commenting Matthew!

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  27. Kirby Payne

    Agree :)

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for reading and commenting Kirby!

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  28. Silan gul

    yesssss

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for your comment Silan!

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  29. Andrew Bonner

    Yes, most feminists are so pro women that they are sexist!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Thanks for the comment Andrew!

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  30. Christian Antonelli

    I agree with you on certain point but radically disagree with your stance on equality and would like to put forward this question and thought.

    Surely as a human being you strive to be thought of, upon first sight/meeting or introduction to be a blank slate, able to craft the persons opinion of you from conversation or in whatever way you see fit? Fair?

    Then why should gender become important? To me, the idea of femminism is redundant, why rally behind the flag of one gender when surely we should be trying to bring all peoples together?

    That way you can path the way for tolerance and equality across a whole plethora of different issues like race, religion (or not being religous at all) and class.

    Don’t get me wrong, the fair treatment of women in many areas needs to be addressed, but if you approach it from a hostile angle all you will recieve is further hostility.

    Don’t force people to change, it’ll never work, show them how it can be, introduce them to alternatives and you’ll see that it’s easier to gain support. Especially support who genuinely believe in your cause.

    Sorry for this long reply and I hope you see this but please, remember, we’re all humans and fair treatment for all should be the utopian ideal.

    Either way, good luck.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Christian, thank you for taking the time to read my article and for your comments. I do not think that we are so radically opposed in our opinions! My article addresses feminism from the point of assessing the impact of the feminist movement upon men. I haven’t necessarily addressed the fundamentals of feminisms and whether gender should be redudant. Like you, I believe that gender should not be important but I believe that right now feminism is an important movement and will continue to be important until women around the world enjoy equal rights. In many areas of Western society, there has been evident change but the movement and humanity itself has a long way to go in striving for gender equality and then gender redundancy. We must keep in mind that even if gender did become a topic that is no longer an issue, some people may be proud of their gender just as I am proud to be a woman even though I know that it does not define me and is a mere word. Afterall, the terms ‘man’ and ‘woman’ will continue to exist I think!
      I don’t think I addressed the topic from a hostile angle but rather a different angle where I am arguing that while women strive for equality, they simultaneously impact upon and redefine what it means to be a man because they are looking for something new to fit the category of ‘New Woman’. I am arguing that women shouldn’t do this as it infringes upon aspects such as chivalry.
      And as you say utopianism is an ideal and will most likely remain an ideal rather than a reality because political hierarchy will always exist even if racial, class or gender hierarchy doesn’t.

      Once again, thank you for your comments!

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  31. Ann-Marie Smith

    I totally agree with what you are saying Anila! Alot of ladies want a man like Edward Cullen and/or Mr Cullen because they make them feel wanted. Living in a fantasy world is not good as the younger generation may wish for this to happen but it just doesn’t. This totally does not help feminism. Thanks so much for writing this article!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Ann-Marie Smith, thanks for reading and commenting! I am not sure that was what I was arguing entirely! The point I was trying to make is that while women strive for equality, they simultaneously impact upon and redefine what it means to be a man because they are looking for something new to fit the category of ‘New Woman’. I am arguing that women shouldn’t do this as it infringes upon aspects such as chivalry. Books like Twilight show the more traditional aspects of men that we shouldn’t attempt to change and redefine just because we are redefining the politically loaded term ‘woman’. And I don’t want to make the sceptical comment of no men like Edward existing – let’s have some hope! Thanks again for your comments!

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  32. Jenny Waters

    Anila, thanks for writing this article! I absolutely agree with what you say. A lot of women that i talk to want a man like Edward Cullen or Mr Grey simply because of the fact they want to feel special and looked after- however i think with these sorts of movies out today it makes a younger generation of women think or feel that they are living in some sort of fantasy world. I believe that what you have written is right though and with all this news we hear today on feminism it just does not help it! Its sad that these women have become best selling authors, however it also seems that this is apparently what the younger generation want today.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Jenny! Thank you so much for reading my article and for your reply. It’s amazing at how rapidly times are changing – even since I wrote this article things are changing. I believe that women want Grey and Cullen-like men but at the same time feminism is having an impact on men and their behaviour/what they are traditionally perceived as. There is a constant question now ‘are there any men left in society’. I don’t believe in gender categorisations but I do think that feminism has impacted what it now means to be a ‘man’. Whether it is for the better is a question I leave open!

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  33. Mehul

    “I think men have always been primary and women secondary in patriarchal structures.”

    I vehemently refute the notion of a totalitarian patriarchy which uniformly oppresses women (that’s not to say that that’s your definition)
    Positive discrimination, relative lack of support for men suffering from domestic violence
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence etc.

    These inequalities in favour of women appear to contradict the above definition of the patriarchy. I personally
    believe that the gender distinction remains secondary to the inherited wealth of an individual in governing the
    professional success and general well-being in ones life. Hence I
    disagree in your categorical statement that men are always primary
    and women secondary, as I feel that there are a myriad of other variables (e.g wealth) which need to be taken
    into account. I encourage you to read up on the homelessness figures to see the disparity
    between men and women. (Example article-http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00938062)

    For the majority of the feminist literature I have read I have been dismayed at the lack of attention paid to male issues
    despite feminist proclamations of egalitarianism.

    “And I beg to differ on your belief that biological differences should be the foundation from which discussions of gender equality is built upon as physical/biological dispositions bear no regard on equality – otherwise what about people with disabilities?”
    I think you have misunderstood, I was merely stating the semi-obvious generalised point,in that the inherent differences (with sufficient scientific evidence) between men and women should be the starting block in the discussion of equality.
    For example, when discussing equal employment opportunities for the disabled, certain provisions have to be made to account for their (possibly) inherent disadvantage to able individuals, such that
    they have equal access to opportunities.

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    • Anila Dhami

      My point regarding men as primary, women as secondary is just a general point/observation of culture and society. We cannot deny that patriarchy existed. My personal views on power relations lies with Foucault on power as a matrix. And I agree there is not enough focus on men. When I was studying psychoanalysis I developed an interest in masculinity and men and psychoanalysis but never had the opportunity to look into it in greater detail!

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  34. Mohmmed Khoda

    I agree. I think equality in the case of feminism should relate to the choices a woman makes in regards to her life such as whether she decides to become a housewife or a politician for example. It shouldn’t be about gaining a status identical to that of a’ typical man’, as the whole concept of equality is allied with having the right to pursue whatever personal goals one wants to fulfill, and this is different for every individual whether male or female.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Mohmmed, thank you for taking the time to read my article and for your comments. I agree with your sentiments!

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  35. CK

    There’s really no arguing about what feminism means. Feminism is nothing more or less than the ideology that women deserve equal rights. This includes control over their choices, and respect as a person. It’s not meant to be scary, and it’s about respecting men as much as women. It’s only confusing because it’s badly understood by society at large.

    Why do we assume love can’t cope with social change? Hasn’t love survived women no longer being owned by their husbands, winning the vote and being allowed to work? I’d say changing roles is something that’s always been around (unlike imagined mediaeval chivalry, which is actually nothing like what we’re discussing here and simply a military code of conduct for knights…) and something that relationships will always grapple with. I know dating is hard for men (it’s hard for women, too), but that’s because we have much higher expectations of relationships than our great-grandparents did. Unlike several hundred years ago, marriage is no longer a contract between families set up to manage property. Relationships aren’t just a way to create heirs dutifully, but a partnership of friends, lovers, equals. This simply was not the case in the past. We’re struggling with relationships because we expect so much more out of them than we did in the past. It’s the same with jobs: 100 years ago, you just did what your dad did. Now you expect to actually like what you do, and be good at it.

    Going back to the characteristics we’re talking about: I’d argue that what we’re calling chivalry here (someone who appreciates you, treats you nicely, acts politely and wants to help fight your battles), is not so much chivalry as basic human decency.

    I’d argue you can’t want ‘over-protectiveness’ because by definition if you’re ‘over-’ anything, you’re more than is acceptable. When women say they like protective guys, we certainly don’t mean someone who is controlling, manipulative or abusive. I imagine most really mean someone who they feel is looking out for them. Who wants to help us fight our fights, even though they know we can handle it. Which is something all of us do for our loved ones if we care, whether we’re male or female. Except that socially, we women often take it upon ourselves to be the caregivers, including taking on more of the emotional burdens, and would probably like it if our menfolk fussed a bit more over us. Unfortunately, men didn’t get the memo, and are normally brought up believing something like ‘men should be strong and silent’ and ‘feelings are for women’. Since men are feeling, capable individuals, this is unfair on them, and one of the ways that the pressures men have traditionally grown up with are hard on them too (bottling up emotions is probably why young men have higher suicide rates).

    We all know humans are more complicated than stereotypes, but because of how all of us are brought up, we all learn different ways of expressing affection. And that may not be the same way our partner expresses their love, leading to misunderstandings or feeling unloved. The kinds of love idolised in these books are perhaps ways of women fantasising about being treated the way they treat others. A kind of erotic ‘Golden Rule’ if it were.

    Do I think there’s problematic aspects to these books? Yes, but I think that’s true of all literature at large, including works I absolutely love. I think both works get some justifiable criticism for being averagely-written and far from nuanced portrayals of women, but this is part of writing on the public stage and getting paid $$$. Part of being a fan of anything means accepting others won’t feel the same way, or will have some warranted criticism of what we personally enjoy. As long as they’re fair, it’s our duty to at least grudgingly admit the things we love aren’t absolutely perfect. And we women have every right to like even crappy literature: there is plenty of less-than-prizeworthy stuff out there aimed at men, after all.

    As a feminist, I think there’s one area where these books have actually helped women: bringing the idea that women have fantasies to the fore. I’d argue that there’s nothing wrong with (or original about) Twilight or 50 Shades as wish-fulfilment fantasies for women. It’s good to see women feeling more comfortable discussing their desires This is actually good for men, too because women feeling less ashamed about sex and their sexuality means women being able to express what they want sexually and not being afraid to get it. Out goes sex as something women grudgingly give to men, in comes sex as something two (or more) people do together because they enjoy it. Everyone wins!

    Feminism is also about being free to explore your sexuality. There’s nothing wrong with women having fantasies that aren’t equal (there’s no shortage of BDSM practicioners who are feminist) so long as they are consensual. If it’s an arrangement that works for both parties, is of both parties’ choice and respects both parties’ interests, then good for you. And yes, many women may have fantasies that might be a lot less sexy (or even creepy) in real life, but then again, so do many men, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. My point is, criticism of these books shouldn’t be (but often is) about shaming women for being sexual, which is both wrong and unfeminist.

    Who says equality is no longer about politeness? Being in a relationship is at least partly about making each other feel good, and partly about looking out for each other. Your bloke can buy you flowers, but surely you’d buy him something you saw and thought he’d love. You want to build a life with someone who’s gonna have your back – that’s also what he wants. Feminism isn’t someone sitting behind your shoulder grumbling that a guy did something thoughtful for you or that, shock horror! you did something nice for him. It’s complaining about a certain attitude some men or some women have.

    When feminists say they’re against ‘chivalry’ they mean they’re against the idea that men should feel owed sex for having done something nice for a woman. That if you do something nice for someone, being nice is its own reward. That being friendly doesn’t buy you sex, buying chocolates doesn’t buy you sex, getting dinner doesn’t buy you sex etc. That, in fact, sex should never be a bargaining chip that women use against men, but something two people do because they both want to – no obligations. The aim is that if women don’t have to feel guilty over their own sexual desires, and aren’t judged for ‘giving into them’, and if men are taught to be honest about what they want rather than trying to bargain, wheedle, and lie to get sex, then dating would be a lot less complicated. How we’re doing it now isn’t perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than what it was like hundreds of years ago. And yes, sorry guys, you won’t be able to predict which women will go for your brand of charm, but that’s life. No matter what you do (whether you’re a man or a woman), it will be a turnoff for some, and a turnon for others.

    What feminism is actually there for is to fight for equal pay, your right to be respected whether you wear a thong or a hijab, your right to not be raped and not be treated like a piece of meat. And your man’s right to have emotions and reason, and his right to not be treated like a hormonal ape who can’t control himself. Guys, forget worrying about what Edward or Jacob or Christian would do, just try to be sincerely decent and thoughtful about what she would want. It’s not about being lavish or about being cool as much as it’s about looking like you actually care.

    TL;DR: There’s nothing wrong with polite guys, liking Twilight or having standards. Problems that feminists have with either Twilight or the conduct of men aren’t about men being nice to women.

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    • Mehul

      A lot of what you say is indisputable and most individuals would agree, regardless of gender.

      “I’d argue that what we’re calling chivalry here (someone who appreciates you, treats you nicely, acts politely and wants to help fight your battles), is not so much chivalry as basic human decency,” chivalry by definition is “the qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry towards women,” basic human decency transcends genders.

      “Feminism is nothing more or less than the ideology that women deserve equal rights”, there are numerous cases for male discrimination, some valid, although somewhat unsubstantiated points, worth discussion are:

      http://www.jtest28.com/discrimination.html

      Most males may argue for their own case in instances but by and large they also pay due consideration to women’s plight, however this doesn’t appear to be reciprocated by a substantial number of feminists with respect to male discrimination (hence why I take issue with the term “feminist”).

      Also note, with respect to the salary differences between genders, a large proportion of the wage gap can be attributed to the nature of work/hours chosen by women,

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/04/16/its-time-that-we-end-the-equal-pay-myth/

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi CK. I just want to say a very big thank you for your comment! I absolutely love what you have said and agree with everything you say! I could not have put it better myself. You have completely reinforced/expressed my sentiments. Thank you for reading and taking the time to write such a thorough, enjoyable (and accurate to my views) response!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Just another point, I always find it difficult writing about precisely what it is about 50 Shades/Twilight that is liberating for women and you have expressed it in a nutshell! Your response will certainly aid my discussions on this topic.

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  36. Mehul

    Your whole attempted justification for coinciding chivalry and modern feminism is based on the assumption that being chivalrous is a corollary of a man being in love, hence why should a woman reject this consequence ? However not all men would deem chivalrous acts as a consequence. The whole principle of chivalry which is embedded in our culture has resulted in men’s lives being deemed as secondary to women’s. The whole “women and children first” mentality is most likely an evolutionary by-product of survival as only a single mans seed is required to spawn numerous children. As a result in life or death situations men are seen as disposable commodities (If there was a war which required substantial numbers, young men in the UK would be the first to be drafted. The investment in prostate cancer and other male diseases are a fraction than that of female diseases etc..)

    Additionally,as you’ve stated , chivalrous practices are a hark on back to medieval times when women were seen as the “fairer” sex and with the current progression towards female “equality” I fail to see how there can’t be a contradiction ? Note that my definition of chivalry is defined as acts of gallantry exclusively to women (or greater for), when in actuality (as another poster mentioned) the distinction for who is worthy of courtesy shouldn’t exist (i.e be independent of gender, race etc).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFE9KpaUjQc (I concur with the initial panelists response to the first question.)

    An interesting point you touched upon is the questionable notion of “equality” . The inverted commas are attributed to the fact that women and men are intrinsically different from birth. There is a genetic predisposition for women to be physically weaker than men in addition to different chemical balances/imbalances within the body. These biological differences should be the foundation from which the discussion of gender equality is built upon as opposed to negating them in favour of some misguided sense of an “equal” woman.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Mehul, thank you for your comments, they have been very interesting to read and a challenge to my perspective! The assumption of chivalry as a corollary of a man being in love is based on my analysis of the novels discussed in this article – there are of course many other aspects of men being in love but this is one aspect that I chose to focus on because I think it is the one aspect that may clash most with feminist values. I am unsure as to how you arrive at men’s lives being secondary to women’s from the notion of chivalry? And I would not see it like that – I think men have always been primary and women secondary in patriarchal structures.
      I may have been stating the obvious with regards to the contradiction between medieval chivalric practises and current feminism but the point is that current progression in feminism should not clash with medieval chivalry. I have not actually discussed the progression of the male status in society so my discussion may in that sense be limited – and indeed is one specific aspect. Who is worthy of courtesy should not exist, you are right, but in terms of the portrayal of these values and how some feminists may resist chivalry based on being a woman, I felt the need to make this point.
      And I beg to differ on your belief that biological differences should be the foundation from which discussions of gender equality is built upon as physical/biological dispositions bear no regard on equality – otherwise what about people with disabilities?

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  37. Jon

    I’d have to agree with Chris there, the modern woman doesn’t know what she wants. Traditionalism and the modern woman are opposites. What I find is that the modern woman seems to want this equality, and independence, yet not the same responsibility. Society and media have a large role to play, these, as put earlier ‘mediocre novels’ are mediocre, yes, but they are so well advertised and eaten up that they too play a massive part in society, particularly as women are the main portion of readers today, and this propaganda if you will, feeds the minds.
    I’ve always been chivalrous and romantic, but I find myself dwindling at the attitudes of women, and I will say not all of them, but still women as a gender seem to have become a lot more boisterous than ever before. For me to hold a door open, as I would for anyone else, and a woman to tell me that she can do it herself or not even say ‘thank you’ is just rude. I understand equal rights but we’ve gone a little far. There’s almost been a role reversal with men becoming over-pruned and over-sensitive, the metrosexual man is the ‘modern man’ what is that? We as a species are no longer man and woman but just humans, asexual beings. I find myself being less chivalrous than ever before, because if she wants to act like a man, she’ll be treated like one. This is not sexism, it’s just fairness, if it’s being requested, it will be provided.
    I’ve seen women out acting more rowdy than men, fights, beating their boyfriends, what’s going on? I find it’s mostly down to a confusion as to what women want, and how easily accessible social media has become. Dylan was right, ‘Time’s are a-changing’ and I believe it’s down to media most of it, and this misconstrued and misunderstood half-arsed notion of feminism. I think most men don’t just want a woman, but a lady. And that involves a lot of traditional values, but with everything changing, tradition is slowly dwindling and so are the rules of courting and dating, which is why there’s so much confusion around the area now. You couldn’t play a game of chess if the pieces suddenly all meant different things.

    I realise this is a slight ramble, but I guess my confusing spiel resembles what’s going on with the same matter.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Jon, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comment – and I am sincerely enjoying all of the comments by male readers! It is very interesting to see the reaction that men have had to this article and I indeed attempted, through this article, to consider the position of men and the effect that feminism has on both men and women when it concerns romance and love.
      We forget that men can be feminists too and the basic principle of feminism is that of wanting to achieve equality but achieving equality does not mean that women deserve less respect and does not mean that men stop behaving like gentlemen – this is a point I am making for both men and women – that men should maintain chivalry and women should accept it. As previously stated, I do not believe that the novels discussed in this article are mediocre but are rather a liberation and add to the feminist movement; a stance that I realise many may disagree with.
      The article does conjure up many different discussions regarding the individual ‘roles’ of ‘men’ and ‘women’ and I have to say I must disagree with your notion that the roles of men and women are switching because I am against socially constructed notions of what it means to be a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’ (in dialogue with Judith Butler’s argument that socially constructs gender). With your claim that humans have become asexual, many feminists would argue that the feminist movement has fulfilled its purpose as gender constructs are exactly that – constructs – that many feminists seek to abolish!
      I agree with your point on fairness but I do not agree with your phrase ‘act like a man’ as once again that is all constructed. I have enjoyed reading the points that you have raised regarding gender as I had not touched upon gender roles in my article, but rather it is lurking there! I did slightly steer away from it because it is such a huge topic but the main point is really that the notion of what it means to be a ‘new’ woman should not impact men being chivalrous and gentlemanly and should not be rejected by women. Thanks once again!

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  38. Ian

    For me it’s very simple. When in a situation with a woman where I have an opportunity to be “chivalrous” (as you put it) I think: “what would I do if this was my mate?” And then do exactly that.

    As far as I can tell this works for every situation:
    Paying for dinner on a first date: I’d go 50:50.
    Holding doors open: Always
    Buying presents: If I see something appropriate and nice
    Fighting battles: I’d always back up my mates

    If a woman rejects any of this due to feminist beliefs then I am genuinely hurt by it and I refuse to see why! In an ideal world I think that feminism shouldn’t define how a woman behaves at all but, instead, it should define how a man behaves.

    I believe that if everyone (male or female) follows this rule then we have found equality.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Ian, I think that is a good way of approaching the situation – thinking ‘what would I do if this was a friend’, although I think I have arrived at the conclusion that a man should pay for a first date! And I agree that rejecting those that you have listed on the basis of feminism is not right. It is interesting that you think feminism should define how a man behaves – I had not thought about that before and think there is substance in that! Thanks for your comments!

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  39. Chris Harris

    I think the crux of the problem is that the modern women doesn’t really know what she wants. She pulled in 2 directions by the traditionalist female stereotype and the new modern view. I can imagine this can be quite confusing but imagine how us guys feel, how can a man know how a woman wants him to behave when she doesn’t know herself? If we play the chivalrous genetleman then we’re told we’re old fashioned, play the nice guy and we’re boring, play the alpha male and we’re arrogant. Hopefully one day the modern woman will decide what she wants and when she does please let us men know!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Chris, thank you for reading this and taking the time to comment. I would hate to reinforce the notion ‘women don’t know what they want’ but I agree with you that women are being pulled in different directions! And I agree that this probably does confuse men as they then come into conflict with women trying to enforce the notion of ‘modern’ ‘new’ woman and consequently men don’t know where they stand – hence the problematic question about whether feminism is destroying love because it may impact the status of what men think it means to be a ‘man’ (whatever that may be!) and impact ‘chivalrous’ acts. Oh well, ‘noone said it would be easy, but they said it would be worth it’!!

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  40. Zain Hasn

    Hi,

    I’m going to try my best taking a crack at this as feminism happens to be rhetorically and polemically one of the most challenging things to do as you risk being disingenuous almost at every turn.

    In essence though I disagree with the juxtaposition of feminism with love (in itself a vague concept that holds different meaning to everyone). The highlighting of Twilight and 50 shades as topics for discussion on feminism in my opinion is incorrect as they are both mediocre novels (the latter no better than cheap exploitative pornography) and the pseudo-feminist underpinnings of either is I believe insultingly weak when you compare the more real issues that Susan B Anthony, the suffragette movement, Marie Curie tackled.

    Anyways my point being we’ve diluted feminism down by seeing it through the lens of faddist pop culture references and magazine covers. When in actual fact the tangible realities of female genital mutilation, witch hunting, reproductive right, the lack of CEO representation in the fortune 500 companies, equal wages and the insulting and pernicious moves to frequently justify misogyny in desi cultures through the falsehoods of moral relativism are things that feminism is an ideology is designed to tackle.

    In essence I think your clear talent and passion for writing is better utilised on some tougher subjects and not something GQ-esque. My point is romance and issues surrounding that are of a personal nature. Feminism in my opinion is something that may be required to change attitudes of men surrounding that but I think its more a vehicle for social justice rather than a Sex and the City round-table discussion.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Zain, thank you for your response. I agree that feminism is an ideology that is designed to tackle the issues that you raise but one cannot be ignorant of the impact of what you call ‘mediocre novels’ because they are evidently impacting society and the on-going discussions regarding women and sexuality. Social justice, for the movement of feminism, includes sexuality which has been discussed for centuries by philosophers, psychoanalysts, sociologists, in literature and is a key part of feminism. Although it may seem as though sexual relations and sexuality are GQ-esque, they are extringent to the socio-political lives of women because the public and private dichotomy conflate. In a classical Freudian example, civilization does not allow men and women to exhibit or fulfil their sexual desires; but it is women that suffer neurosis as a result of inhibiting their sexual drives. This is just one example of a century-old discussion regarding women and sexuality. By discussing novels such as Fifty Shades and Twilight, that clearly revolve around this topic, is not only a liberation in itself – as women would once have been prohibited from discussing such a topic – but can be seen as progression for the feminist movement. If we take Freud’s theory as fact, the fact that Fifty Shades enabled women to read and discuss these subjects could lead to the implication that women do not suffer neurosis (hypothetically speaking). Hence, I think that you are mistaken in saying that this is not a tough subject because actually sexuality and women has been problematic for centuries. Thank you once again for your response.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Also, just to add, the pioneer of feminism Mary Wollstencraft discussed women and sexuality in her first text which is always a reference for feminists as she was the first woman to print and speak out about feminism. The suffragette movement may not have even occurred without Wollstencraft hence I think you are misguided in believing that what I have discussed are not real issues in feminism as they are really a return to the fundamental problems introduced by the first feminist writer.

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      • Zain Hasn

        I don’t disagree with any of that incidentally, except for anything Freudian (off-topic but I’d highly recommend Why Freud was wrong by Richard Webster) even for fans of psychoanalysis.

        Back on topic, I do acknowledge your points but we’ll just have to disagree then on the extent and tangibility of effects these novels have aside from making for good conversations pieces on “what does it all mean?” or to that effect. I am not too familiar with Mary Wollstencraft’s works and have always wanted to read “a vindication”. Her legacy I am sure is secure as an inspiration for first wave feminists all the way to those at Seneca Falls.

        But I digress, back to your topic. I think women are right to expect to be treated with courtesy, old-school notions of what passes off as romantic gestures, chivalry without being condescending. It’s all a fine line and depends on the preference. The dynamics of relationships of course are never the same and that’s where communication would help. Expecting us however to be able to transform into a werewolf, a sparkling bat or a BDSM-loving millionaire is a step too far mind you!

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        • Anila Dhami

          The last comment made me laugh! I don’t particularly disagree with what you said in your last comment. But as a student of Literature, I don’t believe that any book should be discarded especially not because it may come under the genre of ‘pop fiction.’ Words are powerful! And the craze over the book is significant. The fact that it was banned from some countries that did not want women to read it speaks for itself about the prohibitions that still affect women and sexuality. But fundamentally the argument that women should accept chivalry is what I was getting at and I don’t think we are disagreeing with that – and I wholly agree that everyone and every relationship is different! I have enjoyed our discussion, you clearly seem to know a lot about the feminist movement!

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  41. Alex Caskey

    Thank you for writing this article, I’ve had a fascinating hour or two just thinking on this and what it means to me, so apologies for ineffective points and a long-winded ramble!

    I am a man (22, so that’s open to debate, I suppose :P). I am in a relationship with my girlfriend of four years, and we are living together, and I love her dearly. Nothing would destroy me more than losing her. It’s nice to see that you are not just saying “men are controlling B*******s”. Some men definitely are. I came from a home addled by a violent and abusive father and then a violent and abusive step father after that. Those men are very bad men. They manipulate, they control, they have influence on your state of mind. They know you enough to kneed you into the way they want you to react – often there’s a reason why people are this way, but some people are just bad people. I think that makes sense – in the many millions of people to ever walk this planet, there had to be X many millions of “bad” people in proportion to that.

    But to focus– chivalry. I would like to think of myself as a courteous sort of guy. I’m open minded, I’m very accepting, and I feel I can empathize with people and interpret them effectively. I would never want someone to be affected by my actions in such a way that they were made unhappy, or they were hurt, or offended or felt belittled, but you’ve raised a fair point- Chivalry is an act of discrimination.
    But you could publicly defame me, beat me up, interrogate me and break me mentally, and I’d still hold a door for a woman. I’d still hold a door open for a man, but if he was halfway down the corridor, I wouldn’t wait, whereas, with a woman, I’m positive I would. Sometimes when I do things like this, I often think I’m bad for doing it or they are going to think I want something or I’m being creepy – “wow she must just think I fancy her” or “whoops, she probably thinks I just want to walk behind her to look at her, yikes I’ll just turn and go the long way.” But that woman may be thinking “What an absolute rat, who does he think he is? Holding the door open for me because I’m a woman.” And I can completely understand this- it’s a valid response to an unnecessary action. But I would like to stress that this is in no way me using my male form to oppress, belittle intimidate, or provoke any other malevolent or negative sentiment. All I’m doing is what I am doing, it’s a gesture at face value. In saying that, however, I would never -expect- someone to hold a door open for me. Not because I have some view that all people are horrible and I shouldn’t expect them to be nice, but just because I’m being an inconvenience to them on some level, and I would completely understand if this was viewed by them as impertinent, and I’m nearly apologizing to them for ever needing to use doors to changes rooms by that point!

    But outside of that, men have very complex relations with women, just as women do with men. I haven’t ever properly read up on Freud, but I know this was something he looked at in detail from the point of view of the child, and it seems inherently obvious that this complexity would then shape that child’s assent to adulthood. What ‘man’ wouldn’t hold the door open for his own mother? What man wouldn’t take care of, and be protective of his own mother? (etc.) I do not mean that all men will project their mother on to every woman they ever meet, that would be really weird– but everyone has a mother, and the majority of men grew up under the love and care of their mother, and will never forget that as long as they live, just like when they have a long and loving relationship, that man will never forget the effect that that woman has had on him, so for these reasons, lots of men automatically treat women better, simply because the women in their lives have usually shown them how good it is to be loved by a woman, not necessarily physically, but emotionally.

    Like I said, I’ve been in a relationship with my girlfriend for four years , so I’m quite used to having her – the thought of no longer having her is somewhat unbearable – in my present state of mind, at this point of my life, I don’t see how I would be happy. So it seems that it’s this happiness that I feel I am over-protective of – especially in the face of other men – and we’ve talked about this together– in four years together, you do have jealousy and things, and the conversations to resolve it. So you get to hear that it’s not just you, and this, i found, helped us strengthen our bond.
    I’m referring to over-protectiveness here. But it can go too far, and finding a line is difficult, and the thought of trying to moderate something like that gives me a headache, but you can see why it’s there and I acknowledge its uses in life.
    But you may disagree. I have heard feminists saying that they know they do not, by nature, have the same will to control men as men apparently do women, but I just can’t agree with that because it’s part of what it is to be human (Not in extreme cases, of course, but in normal cases where someone may be protective someone that they have a relationship with on some level.)– it boils down to the fact that you’re afraid of losing your happiness.

    But that’s such a profound thing. Even the sentence itself is profound –you are presently happy, you’re just terrified of the idea that you might become unhappy and not on your terms – is that really happiness? It doesn’t matter because “happiness” is a human description of a powerful emotion, which is another description of a profound and complex “feeling”, which is a vague reference to thousands of low-level actions inside the body and mind. I can’t speak for everyone, and I would never disagree with feminism’s fundamental values, but sometimes I think men are all viewed in a way that they did not deserve, and if they did, it was only ever because they are men, and they had absolutely no control over whether or not they were men, and there’s plenty like me who want to be with women and not hurt them, or hate them, or keep them, or use them, or make them feel small. We’re not all bad, and if we seem to be, we don’t all mean it!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Alex, thank you so much for reading and thinking about the article in such depth to have given such a detailed response. It is always touching when somebody has been impacted in some way by your writing. I think that you are right, some men can be very controlling to the point of abuse but focusing on the narratives of the books in the discussion of my article, I do not think that the main characters are abusive; and in fact I think they replicate what it means to be chivalrous. It is great that you hold open doors for women and men – politeness is a virtue regardless of who is opening the door for whom. With regards to jealousy, I think that is natural. From my perspective, women too feel jealousy and I actually believe, after being influenced and studying Freud, that women are innately jealous beings. In a relationship, jealousy is indeed natural but the line is drawn where trust resides. And thank you for attempting to restore women’s faith in men – I am sure you aren’t all bad! Thanks again for your response!

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  42. Lucy W

    I really, really loved this. Recently I read: http://thoughtcatalog.com/2013/7-reasons-why-men-shouldnt-pay-for-women-on-the-first-date/ – I’m sure you will find it as interesting as I did.

    I am constantly having to defend myself to male friends when I reveal I am a feminist because – who doesn’t want women to be respected, have choices, independence and equal opportunities to vote, be educated and work?!

    But, no way am I paying for a first date, asking a guy out or expecting anything less than a gentleman in my romantic affairs: because I deserve nothing less as a woman. I believe feminism in the romantic field is the equality of respect. Respect for a woman through chivalry – not belittlement, and for woman to respect and appreciate a gentleman: equally.

    I’ve found it very hard to explain to some guys!! So I really enjoyed your exploration into recent culture such as twilight and 50 shades of grey. Well written and thought out, more please!

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Lucy, I am delighted that you enjoyed the article! Thank you for your response and for the link that you provided. I read it and it is interesting! Some of the points I disagree with such as picking something cheaper if you know the man is paying – one should be comfortable enough in their relationship to choose what they want without even thinking about money! And I agree with you about not paying for a first date. Letting a man pay is definitely not outdated and I think that goes back to the idea of chivalry (clearly in that article you provided chivalry is battling against feminism). If you want to read more of my work, you can visit http://www.aniladhami.wordpress.com. Thanks once again for taking the time to read my article and respond!

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  43. Julline L

    I don’t agree with the references you make to Twilight and Fifty Shades – but that’s just personal preference. However, I agree wholeheartedly with the fact that women and men should have equal rights and opportunities — not be mirror images of each other. Also, the point on chivalry is one I have long spoken about: chivalry is politeness; manners. In the same way that a man should not reject door being held open for him, a woman should not reject such a gesture on grounds of the fact that she is a “strong, independent woman” (or whatever she may say). Both men and women can be chivalrous (or polite). Accepting chivalry is not a sign of weakness. And personally, the part I love most about people is their protective side.

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Julline, thank you for taking the time to read my article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your opinions and must say that I had not previously considered that both men and women can be chivalrous so you have given me something to think about. I agree with your sentiments that a man should not reject the door being held open for him, just as a woman should not, and that accepting chivalry is not a sign of weakness (perhaps just as if a man partook in feminist activity, this does not mean that by accepting feminism he is weak. Thus, the terms are not gender based/biased but each term is gender neutral). Thank you for your response.

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  44. Amber Heath

    Why does love have to be defined by over-protectiveness? Surely love is just a deeply profound bond between two people who respect each other and each other’s wishes. Why does it have to be about a man being polite to a woman, or anyone kneeling at anybody’s feet? What’s wrong with wanting to be treated equally regardless of sex or gender?
    And why does it matter if men are being ‘emasculated’ by women being assertive? They’ll still be men, regardless of whether women respect them or if they act passively or even if they show no interest in women at all, just like women will still be women even if they take the dominant role in a bdsm relationship or pay for their own meals or choose a stereo-typically male profession. That’s what true equality is; being free to act the way you want without fear of being treated badly because of it, an it’s important for both men and women

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Amber, thank you for reading my article and for your response. I am not at all saying that ‘love’ is defined by over-protectiveness. My discussion on over-protectiveness, or even protectiveness, stems from my remarks on the article ‘Edward Cullen is a possessive, woman-beating stalker’ where I am writing back that it is not possessiveness, or obsession but protectiveness. And also I am merely highlighting and discussing one quality that I found is consistent in all of the male protagonists in the trilogies that I read and discuss in this article.
      With regards to your question ‘why does it matter if men are being “emasculated” by women being assertive’, I feel that the position of men is somewhat overlooked when in relation to women and feminism; a line of inquiry that has interested me after studying psychoanalysis and masculinity. Maybe to rephrase the question, or create an equivalent, would be to ask: ‘why does it matter if women are treated as inferior to men?’ This could possible equate to your question and thus highlights the importance of this line of inquiry..? I agree with you that women will still be women if they carry out those actions and as a feminist I also believe in the importance of choice (not necessarily equality, as I state in this article because women have the ability to transgress men). What I am interested in is what, if anything, do you think happens to women, or the notion of ‘woman’ when she takes on the role of submissive in a BDSM/sexual relationship? Are your thoughts aligned with Michel Foucault’s on the power discourse mentioned in this article? Do you think sexual drives, or sexual relationships have any significance/importance when it comes to the identity or happiness of a woman? (e.g. Sigmund Freud would say that it does infringe on women’s happiness and health because they are required to sublimate their sexual drives.) I would love to know your thoughts on this!

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      • Amber Heath

        Personally, I don’t agree that Edward Cullen is just being ‘protective’. In the first book, he stalks Bella (who, at first believes he hates her) to an entirely different town. The fact that he saves her from being hit by a truck doesn’t justify his actions. Before they are in a relationship, he goes into her room and watches her sleep. He’s incredibly controlling of her. When she gets pregnant, he demands she has an abortion and gets angry when she refuses, one of many instances when he gets angry and shouts at her when she doesn’t do as he says. And whenever she doesn’t do as he says, things go very badly for her. he gets jealous of Bella having friends and tries to prevent her from seeing them, a classic example of domestic abuse. The fact that Edward controls all aspects of their physical relationship, even things like kissing. He holds complete power over her body and her relationships, and when she goes against her he demeans her, gets angry at her, and essentially abuses her. Just because he claims that his actions are done in order to ‘protect her’ does not mean that his actions are justified. This is coming from what is supposedly an equal relationship.

        Fifty Shades of Grey is somewhat worse, because in that book, Christian literally stalks and rapes Ana. He commits sexual acts upon her without her consent. And this is treated as a normal BDSM relationship, when anyone with a passing knowledge of BDSM knows that their mantra is ‘Safe, Sane and Consensual’, and all boundaries are clearly set out and defined, with the submissive arguably given more control over proceedings than the dom, as the sub has complete power to stop a session if it becomes too intense through the use of safe words. Boundaries are important in any relationship, but in BDSM it’s essential. The submissive in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is unsure of what’s going to happen, and the boundaries are unclear, and Christian takes no efforts to educate her, and treats her terribly, and when she makes a joke about ending their relationship, he breaks into her house and rapes her. I really cannot see how either of these books can be seen as romantic, let alone not sexist.
        The problem with both books is not primarily a feminist one (although that is also an issue), but simply one of consent and of healthy relationship practices.

        In regards to feminism, I am not an expert on Foucault or Freud (although, from I’ve gleaned of Freud’s work, I believe I agree more with Jung’s philosophy, especially regarding his beliefs on the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the impact this has on literature), I agree with that statement you have used in the article. Power, in, healthy relationships, is not vertical: it is horizontal. The giving and taking voluntarily of control in both directions between both partners, dependent on certain conditions and situations. This is true of all relationships; the difference with BDSM is that the flow of power and control, both ways, is taken into a sexual situation.

        I believe gender and sexuality are both separate and fluid, although most of the time the two correlate. For example, a man could feel like they were born in the wrong body, and identify as female (i.e be transsexual), but still feel attracted to women. Technically, this would make the hypothetical person a lesbian, as it’s a self-identified female attracted to other self-identified females.
        When it comes to BDSM I see no difference between preferring a submissive role over a dominant and preference for one gender over another, regardless of the gender of both partners. Indeed, I believe most women, entering into a BDSM relationship, enjoy a submissive role over a dominant role, in the same way most women, in general society, enjoy men more than women, but this doesn’t mean all women do, or that not doing so makes a person less of a woman. In a BDSM relationship between two men, one would be a submissive and one a dominant, but neither would be considered a woman.
        Of course sexual drives and sexual relationships factor into a woman’s happiness, as a part of an overall relationship with another person, or simply in regardless to physical relief, but they do not define her, any more than it defines a man. People are so much more than one half of a pair; they are complete personalities in themselves, and don’t need others to assert themselves as people. There are people, asexuals, who feel no sexual drive at all. If sexuality defines gender, how would you define an asexual? Female? Male? Human? Sexuality does not define gender.

        I still don’t understand how you can not believe in equality of the sexes. If a man and a woman come from the same background, have the same education, and have the same level of experience, then they should be equally considered for potential employment, and yet employment statistics show that this does not happen. There was a famous case a few years ago where Edinburgh Council paid male janitors much more than they paid female cleaners in schools, even though female cleaners did exactly the same work as the male janitors did, and there were more of them. Even in areas where women dominate the workforce, men get higher wages.
        Women may have the ability to transgress men but they are certainly not exercising it.

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        • Amber Heath

          I apologize for the length of my response; I didn’t realize it had become so long.

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          • Anila Dhami

            Thank you for taking the time to write such an in-depth, detailed response. Maybe I have read both Twilight and Fifty Shades through rose-tinted glasses, but that is the beauty of interpretation. I enjoyed reading your interpretation and can completely see where you are coming from too – you make a compelling case and one which I will ponder on.

            That was a very interesting response with regards to BDSM relationships and the distinction between gender and sexuality – so far I think I agree with you! With regards to equality, I am not saying I do not believe that women and men should not have the same opportunities, education etc at all. What I am saying is that men have dominated for so long that their rules and laws still run society as though they are the correct and only ones. If there was no patriarchy and instead women ruled, we may have different laws and rules. So what I believe is maybe something that can be called post-equality; women transgressing the limits of equality in order to construct their own governing rules – essentially because I believe that women have the power to transgress men but have never been given the chance. When I say women should be the image that is to be reflected, I mean quite precisely that instead of striving for equal rights that men have created, we should be creating our own that men will, and will want to, follow. Does that make more sense?

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  45. Mohit Verma

    well again a well written piece and yes .. im sure chivalry is mixed with feminism in todays world .. but it is not because men want to show chivalry but because women want a strong man the normal meek men just dont fit anywhere above the scale of friendship .. and any man who’s actions are defined as chivalrous, will no doubt be aggressive and wont be so much of a feminist later in the relationship .. and anyone who pretends to be chivalrous will be in the category of overprotective … so after-all it comes to the girl whose priorities take precedence .. because its been universal for sometime that girls find guys but guys still dont get to choose girls ..

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    • Anila Dhami

      Hi Mohit, thank you for reading my article and for your response! I think it is a big generalization to state that women want strong men as everyone has individual preferences. With regards to your comments ‘women want a strong man’ and ‘girls find guys but guys don’t get to choose girls’ are you suggesting that women control chivalry? I believe that women have a choice in their partners, just as men have a choice in how they behave. So I do not think that women control the way a man behaves, but rather she chooses a man according to her own preferences. Also, I think men are able to choose their partners. I do not think that feminism or chivalry impacts a man to the extent that he cannot choose his partner. It is interesting to hear that you think ‘chivalry’ and ‘feminism’ do mix if you believe that women have more control over the choice of their partner and their partner’s behaviour!

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      • Samiha

        No, we don’t want men to ‘stop opening car doors, buying us flowers, protecting us because we are independent women and can protect ourselves’. But the fact is we can very well do without these things in our lives. And that’s what makes it special to have them done by someone who cares about us.

        A gentleman is a gentleman even if he’s not in the presence of a lady. He may well give up his seat on the Tube for another man, and he doesn’t have to be old or sick. Chivalry is not only limited to ladies. And why shouldn’t it work the other way round as well?

        Good manners are appreciated by everyone- it doesn’t have to be directed to or expected from a particular gender.

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        • Anila Dhami

          Hi Samiha, thank you for reading and for your comment. Are you suggesting that the category of ‘chivalry’ should be diluted to simply referring to good manners? If we were to dilute the term ‘feminism’ we would lose the essential, fundamental principles that the movement fights for. So, would this not be the same for ‘chivalry’? Maybe because ‘feminism’ is a socio-political term, the term ‘chivarly’ in comparison is not deemed as such. As much as I agree with your perspective that chivalry should not be assigned to, directed at or expected from a particular gender, like feminism, I wonder if making it something as general as ‘good manners’ makes it lose its real meaning? Does ‘chivalry’ as a term exist for you or do you define it as good manners?

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