When I first started blogging one regular criticism I received from traditional conservatives (especially when writing about Game) was that I was killing chivalry. For the most part I disregarded this with the assumption that they either didn’t understand Game or didn’t understand chivalry. But the more I have learned about chivalry the more I have come to realize that the conservatives were right all along. I had mistaken chivalry for something that was originally noble that was somehow corrupted in the latter half of the 20th century. But the chivalry we love today comes from a glorification of cuckoldry and a worship of women and romantic love that dates back to around 1100.
…Many adventures and battles are alluded to (but not described) until Gawain comes across a splendid castle where he meets Bertilak de Hautdesert, the lord of the castle, and his beautiful wife, who are pleased to have such a renowned guest…
Before going hunting the next day Bertilak proposes a bargain: he will give Gawain whatever he catches on the condition that Gawain give him whatever he might gain during the day. Gawain accepts. After Bertilak leaves, Lady Bertilak visits Gawain’s bedroom and behaves seductively, but despite her best efforts he yields nothing but a single kiss in his unwillingness to offend her. When Bertilak returns and gives Gawain the deer he has killed, his guest gives a kiss to Bertilak without divulging its source. The next day the lady comes again, Gawain again courteously foils her advances, and later that day there is a similar exchange of a hunted boar for two kisses. She comes once more on the third morning, this time offering Gawain a gold ring as a keepsake. He gently but steadfastly refuses but she pleads that he at least take her belt, a girdle of green and gold silk which, the lady assures him, is charmed and will keep him from all physical harm. Tempted, as he may otherwise die the next day, Gawain accepts it, and they exchange three kisses. That evening, Bertilak returns with a fox, which he exchanges with Gawain for the three kisses – but Gawain says nothing of the girdle.
As with St George and the dragon, the lady’s girdle has sexual connotations, indicates that the knight has won her favor, and contains the magic the hero needs to succeed in his quest. At least in the tale of St. George there is no three way make-out session between the knight, the nobleman, and the nobleman’s wife.