Feminism, Chivalry, and Kindness

Josh and I knew quite a bit about each other before we met. We had several mutual friends and since Josh had the reputation of being a conservative traditionalist gentleman and I of being a liberal feminist1 a few of our friends eagerly anticipated us clashing when we both planned to attend an extended party for a friend.

We met briefly one evening and then the next day he decided to join me for church before anyone else woke up. I walked slowly as we approached the front door of the church. I thought it best for whomever reached a door first to hold it open for the next person, and reasoned that if I simply allowed Josh to naturally reach the door first there would be no problem with him opening the door for me. But Josh matched my pace, even when I slowed down to what felt like a crawl.

As we stood side by side in front of the door Josh looked at me and asked what I wanted him to do. I did not care which of us actually opened the door, I just wanted the door to not matter.

Somehow we not only made it inside but also managed to get through the rest of the week without our friends picking up on any¬†awkwardness. But I did not make it through the week without being impressed. Josh cared more about kindness than about being a “traditionalist.” He did not want to open doors for me if it might offend me and he actually wanted to be helpful. I would have overlooked a million door-openings once I noticed him helping with the kitchen clean-up! By the end of the week I knew that I wanted to be Josh’s friend for life.

Josh won me over because he was kind. He did not just treat me like a woman, he treated me like a person: someone worthy of authentic kindness rather than mere social convention.

1. “Liberal feminist” in the most common American political sense of “liberal” in this case meaning not a good-little-automatically-Republican-or-Constitution Party-Voting-person. I was/am not a liberal feminist in the academically correct sense of accepting the glorification of the individual.

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6 thoughts on “Feminism, Chivalry, and Kindness

  1. Rebecca

    Your Josh sound much like my Cliff. He isn’t a fan of ‘traditional’ roles, just strongly feels that what needs done should get done – regardless of it’s the dishes or the mowing.

  2. Katie

    How sweet! I love this post!

    “He did not just treat me like a woman, he treated me like a person: someone worthy of authentic kindness…” In my book, THAT is the definition of chivalry.

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