Girl on Fire: Chivalry isn’t totally dead

[As seen in Creston News Advertiser, March 6, 2014]

A few weeks ago, I bought a latte from Adams Street Espresso and went to work writing police and fire reports. I wasn’t paying attention, and hit my full cup of coffee. It toppled, coffee dribbled out and then the lid released itself from the cup and a good third of the liquid spilled all over my desk.

I never used to be a coffee drinker, not until the past six months or so when I started getting drinks from coffee shops around Creston. So, when I spilled my latte, it was a horrible start to the day.

That is, until my boyfriend Russel Finehout showed up in the office holding a medium latte, full, exactly the same I got that morning.

The following week, news from University of Iowa, my alma mater, blew up when Iowa President Sally Mason made distasteful comments about a recent sexual assault on campus.

Mason said she would like the university to be rid of all sexual assault, but “that’s probably not a realistic goal, given human nature,” according to a Feb. 20 Daily Iowan story.

I have never had any direct or indirect experience with sexual assault, and I am in a relationship where trust and respect prevail, but for someone of authority to say something like that makes me wonder what things we are teaching our society.

Then, something happened. University of Iowa students and alumni gathered in protest to Mason’s words and asked for a zero-tolerance approach to any sexual assault.

This protest, as well as other public and online ones, meld together to become one giant chivalrous act in my eyes. These students have found something worth fighting for, and immediately reacted. Both men and women responded to the university president’s comments because they want a change for the better within the university’s sphere.

I applaud these people. They have something to fight for, something that has meaning to each and every one of them. While chivalry refers to a medieval institution of honor and moral codes, the concept still maintains some of its original meaning.

There is a large gap between something so small as Russ bringing me a cup of coffee and students of a large university protesting the approach to sexual assault at their school, but the idea remains the same.

Both situations demonstrated a sense of kindness for others. Both were meaningful in some way. One was a large, public ordeal and the other was just a small thing, but they both were thoughtful.

I understand comparing a cup of coffee to a university protest isn’t the best example, but I’m a firm believer that using relative things to explain something will help it hit home that much harder. But no matter what, I can say I agree with the protest’s ferocity and passion, and I admire the chivalry in Russ’ choice to bring me coffee.

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