The concept of chivalry has been so twisted by feminists and their boot-licking white knight minions that it is difficult to even imagine that there might once have been a noble core there. The common view of chivalry today is placing men in a subservient position in society. One of the automatically generated wordpress links on the bottom of my first post on chivalry was from a homeschooled young man who believes that his role as a man is to protect any woman who lacks the sense to come in out of the rain (H/T Badger Nation):
We now live in a society where a girl can walk outside, in the pouring rain, without a coat or umbrella and is no one offers their own coat or umbrella. Oh but surely that wouldn’t happen! Yes it would. Well, surely the homeschool movement is producing young men that would offer a hand! The instance I’m referring to happened at a homeschool event.
His view of young men as personal bodyguards and valets for modern young women fits very closely with Zed’s brilliantly crafted rework of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics titled The Three Laws of RoMANtics:
1. A manbot may not injure a woman being or, through inaction, allow a woman being to come to harm.
2. A manbot must obey any orders given to it by woman beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A manbot may protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
This farcical view is so common that it is hard to even imagine a scenario where chivalry might have some nobility to it. To see the potential for nobility we need to consider what knights were. Knights were powerful armed men of generally high economic and social status. An act of kindness or deference by such a man to someone weaker or lower in status to him is gracious in nature because of the real and immediate ability he possessed to do otherwise.
The photo linked above is the cover image for Moment of Truth In Iraq. Michael Yon wrote the book and was also the photographer who captured the famous image. He describes the events surrounding the photo in the book, which occurred immediately after a suicide bomber targeted a crowd of Iraqi children receiving candy from US soldiers in a Stryker:
An Iraqi woman rushed little Farah out of the smoke and flames to sniper Sergeant Walt Gaya who, instead of pushing into sniper position, rushed Farah back to the medics. Major Mark Bieger saw Farah and scooped her up and rushed to a Stryker, but along the way Bieger kept stopping to hug her. Some of Farah’s relatives loaded into the Stryker and they rushed to the hospital where Farah died.
Deuce Four soldiers earned three Silver Stars and numerous Bronze Stars for valor in what would become the most storied battle in Mosul, setting the pace for the months ahead. The days and nights became a blur of steady combat, sometimes leaving the guns white hot: so hot, the bullets were visible flying though the barrels. Americans began naming roads after battles and events, like Seven-Body Road, where they found seven Iraqi corpses one morning, or Bieger Road, where Major Mark Bieger shot an insurgent who had pulled a pistol on his soldiers.
One of Yon’s core points in his book is how the quality of the Coalition Soldiers and Marines impressed the average Iraqi civilians and eventually convinced the neighborhood leaders to back them over the insurgents. They saw the Americans and Brits as tough as nails fighters whom the insurgents feared to stand and fight against. At the same time, they witnessed these hard as nails men expressing sincere concern for the welfare of Iraqi children. The power was in the contrast. A group of hardened fighters who only cared about themselves would have earned less respect. Even more so for a group of weak social workers carping about the children. According to Yon, this powerful contrast was a key reason for the success that coalition troops eventually experienced.
The powerful appeal to chivalry also lies in the contrast. However, the feminists and the white knight boot licker brigade want to appeal to the power of the contrast (the bait) while substituting an obligation of subservience in its place (the switch). I think most of us sense this in our gut, and many of the commenters on my last post articulated this problem quite well. However, I strongly suspect those advocating chivalry as male obligation haven’t really considered the feminist water they are carrying. They are only repeating the anti male slogans they have been drilled in since birth. Our homeschooled blogger provides perfect examples of this frame of mind:
And guys for the most part (especially those of my generation) are a waste of skin. Too harsh? I think not.
Why do we not see more gentlemen? Because men in general of zero character at best, and at worst are in the negatives (as in they suck what little character others have right out of them).
Fortunately our home-schooled blogging friend is by his own admission in the extreme minority in his acceptance of feminist-chivalric dogma. The vast majority of his peers (however schooled) have seen past the facade and haven’t been tricked into seeing their natural role as a servant and protector of women. Ironically this very rejection is a crucial ingredient for any act of real chivalry. Since real chivalry comes from a position of strength, it can only be offered by a man who is actually powerful and offers his assistance with full freedom and knowledge of his own worth.
The full freedom part is as critical as the rest, and is the reason chivalry can’t be an obligation of men as so many desperately wish to convince us. It isn’t just that it is a bad idea; making chivalry expected of men removes the graciousness of the act. Chivalry is a special form of graciousness and like all acts of graciousness must be a gift freely given; the instant you think of it as an obligation you have destroyed the very concept.
When my wife and I were in our 20s we lived in an apartment complex where all of the other residents were elderly. One day my wife saw an older woman struggling with her groceries and offered to take them to her apartment for her. The woman was very thankful, but not long after other residents started buzzing my wife on the intercom letting her know they had left their groceries in the entry way and what apartment they should be delivered to. In that context it became impossible for my wife to offer gracious help to our neighbors, no matter how much she wanted to do so. Her choice was to either become subservient or stop entirely, and she wisely chose the latter. Men wanting to be gracious in our current society are in exactly the same position my wife was in all of those years ago, and our choices are the same as well.
The true enemies of chivalry today are the feminists (elderly neighbors demanding we carry their groceries) and the white knights who would scold us for failing to snap to and serve our masters. In this doubly poisoned atmosphere chivalry is all but impossible, and nearly all who attempt it will inadvertently play the fool.
Note: I’ll share some thoughts in later posts on men acting as protectors as well as rendering assistance to stranded motorists.