Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chivalry: A Murder Mystery

Chivalry is dead, but it didn't just die of natural causes, it was murdered.  Bludgeoned by misplaced pride and left to die by unassuming neglect.  Chivalry has long since lost it's meaning.  Fallen from grace from a once proud word symbolizing honor, prestige and other "knight-like" qualities.  It has now become a joke, a veritable mockery of itself, finding that more often than not, the very act of being chivalrous is being executed with the least honorable of intentions.

At one point in time it was understood that people should hold high regard towards basic human decency.  Somehow chivalry became synonymous with various benevolent actions during the courtship process.  Opening the door, walking on the street side, standing when a women arrives or leaves a table, these seemingly innocuous acts are all remnants of a time when these actions meant something.  Now, they're hollow, devoid of thought and absent of the proper motivation.

What it all comes down to is the thin line between being chivalrous and being condescending to today's modern empowered woman.  Take for instance picking up the tab.  It’s generally considered gentlemanly to pay for meals, entertainment, etc, especially on the first date. I feel that it shows that all I am asking for is your time, nothing else, let's remove the trivial and superficial matter of a money transaction out of the equation and just enjoy our time together.  The feminist’s perspective states that as an empowered womyn, she can pay her own way.  The man reaching for his wallet is an indication that he thinks she can’t take care of herself.  This is not the case.  Allow me this simple joy in life.  I work very hard for what I have, let me share with you the fruits of my labor. 

This is how I think it all goes awry:

From a very early age, young girls are fed a constant stream of "Prince Charming" stories.  This fairytale of a handsome prince (simultaneously signifying wealth, status, and prestige) on white horse coming to literally sweep her off her feet and take her off to some magical land of milk and honey is persistent even across multiple cultures.  The parental units of said child continue to perpetuate this thought through early childhood until, in a rather cruel and ironic twist, the very moment in adolescence when a young girl begins to show interest in the opposite sex they drop all pretenses and slam on the brakes.

"Now that you're old enough, I think it's time to tell you that men are worthless and you don't need a man for anything.  Never depend too much on a man, he will fail you.  All that Prince Charming shit, was a lie." 

... is it any wonder why many women struggle with cognitive dissonance? This is exponentially prevalent in single parent households. Sometimes the children themselves are a constant reminder of the pain and heartache, thus making it that much more palpable and recent. Trust me. I know first hand.

So where do we go from here?

Firstly, I believe the onus falls upon men.  We need to stop being pieces of shit.  Man up.  Literally.  Wrap your brain around what it means to be a man, specifically when it comes to dealings with women.  It's not about justice.  It's not about objectivity.  Get back to the point where men understand that the fairer of the species deserves to be treated with a certain degree of reverence and respect.  As if the fate of the world depended on them.  It does.  Remember that without them, the propagation of the species is impossible.  True, there are outliers to this, there are women out there who aren't worth a damn, but let's err on the positive side, innocent until proven guilty.  If there wasn't such a well placed concern that someday a man might utterly fail them then the need for this thought process wouldn't necessarily be such a priority. 

A quick message to some of those contemptible, despicable men out there:

Your actions don't fall squarely on your shoulders, you represent all of us and every time you wound someone the next person and every other person they might encounter has to pay for your transgressions.  I see the way you treat women, it's no wonder they don't trust us.  Dick.  Grow the fuck up or get yourself out of the fuckin' gene pool.


Secondly, women...

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”
~Timothy Leary

The fight for equality shouldn't include the destruction of courtship as collateral damage.  There's no reason to be that equal.  There are so much that women and men can teach each other and so much that is inherently beautiful about each one independently, why would you want to be more homogeneous?  Let's meet halfway.  Besides, it is common if not universal that in any species that has a gestation period of longer than a couple weeks that there is a specific and typically intricate courtship ritual that has been literally birthed into place over the course of eons to ensure that the most adept, the most resourceful, most deserving of passing on their genes, gets to.  The oft ignored part about this is that this choice is nearly always on the female.   Choose wisely.

Both of us need to put aside foolish short lived games, superficial concerns, and realize that ultimately, the best of us should be the ones out there procreating and changing the face and direction of the world ... not the horniest of us.

*on a side note... wow... sorry about the mental vomit, stream of consciousness isn't necessarily always the best way to write.  Thus a brief dialogue about chivalry turned into a criticism of male/female roles in society and courtship.


  1. So very intelligently and provacatively put my dear friend. I love you with all my heart!

  2. Agreed on many points, especially regarding people (not just men, women do this too) needlessly destroying the ability of someone they've been with to trust others by being, generally, an asshole. I have strong feelings about people's nonchalance regarding safe sex these days too, and I think it's a very similar scenario. People get excited and forget that std's are not just something that they live with, but that at some point down the road, there's a strong likelyhood that they will give it to someone they really, really care about. And how can that be lived with?

    BUT- I also tend toward trying to pay the bill or split it, but not because I'm convinced that the guy thinks I can't afford it otherwise. I am absolutely flattered when someone would like to pick up the check, but I know many women who expect men to do this, and they get extremely pissy when they don't. "He's definitely not getting another date" spews out of women's mouths like they're such hot shit. In my little opinion, that just isn't right. So I try to keep things even whenever possible, and I usually opt for a you can get this, but I'll get coffee or drinks or whathaveyou approach. Also, I don't like people when I first meet them, so I'll be amicable on the first date, but will most likely not be interested in another. And I don't want him to be out the cash for a failed venture! ;)

  3. A well-reasoned epitaph, my good friend, and an excellent read. I too lament the death of chivalry, however in this game of Clue I see the same culprits but a different weapon. I come from a slightly different paradigm... A young man of the utmost chivalry, bludgeoned with the candlestick of rejection into a man of cocky indifference, who finally was afforded the opportunity to come full circle and embrace chivalry anew. Let me explain.
    From an early age I was a romantic. The first story I dictated to my Grandmother was the tale of a White Knight who saved a princess from an evil tormenter. Not the most original premise, but at 2 years old it wasn’t as unoriginal as one might think! Every birthday I spent at Medieval Times, and every hero was a man of gallant chivalry. This continued through high school and beyond. My Freshman year I gave a girl a glass rose on her birthday and kindly asked her on a date. I was softly rejected. I wrote an elegant and playful poem for a girl who dated me briefly my sophomore year, which again, precipitated my rejection. Indeed, all the kindness, charm and smiles won me no hearts, only heartache. All-state basketball, academic, and social honors meant nothing to the objects of my desire… and instead the burnouts, the ne’er-do-wellers, the ambitionless consistently took the girls from under my nose. In the case of my Junior Prom, quite literally: my date to the prom started dating someone immediately after she accepted my invitation, and when I asked him if he would please take her instead he basically told me that he was happy for me to spend the money because he’d just get her stoned and fuck her after I was finished with the formalities!
    This continued through college, where I would take girls on romantic and creative dates, be the epitome of a charming and dashing gentleman, prove my worth a hundred times, but to no avail. It was a great mystery to me, causing incredible torment. I could post a dozen poems I wrote in this period expressing my exasperated anguish. To the age of nearly 22 I had NEVER, not once, dated the girl that I targeted first. I certainly had some very solid and fun relationships, and was not always lonely, but the one who made my heart sing always was out of reach
    Then, in the summer before my 3rd year of College I had what Donny Deutsch would call the ‘A-ha’ moment. I met a girl in LA. She was a sportscaster. She was dating a Cy Young pitcher. She was hott. With two T’s. But for whatever reason, I was genuinely not that into her. And that last statement was the magic aphrodisiac that would turn the tide. I did not take this girl on romantic dates… I did not write her poetry… I treated her like I would a buddy. I categorically denied her attempts to be my girlfriend, usually by diverting the topic with raucous laughter… and what did I receive in return? Undying affection.
    I realized I had it all wrong. Everything I had read about Sir Gawain, and Lancelot, and Pyramus, and Ivanhoe… all of it was a lie. This was a world with an inversion of values of Nietzchean proportions. This was the turning point for me. I learned to keep my chivalry close to the vest… Not to play those cards until I knew, with absolute certainty that the girl I was with had crossed the point of no return--Then and only then, would my romantic sentiments be appreciated. This poem encapsulates the wisdom of that period.
    (Continued below in second comment)

  4. ... (Cont'd from Above) After I learned this lesson I no longer missed out on the one that I truly liked. The chivalry was beaten out of me. It was killed by pure Pavlovian conditioning.
    Chivalry = Rejection. Cocky Indifference = Affection.
    And so my most honorable brother, chivalry perhaps was killed simply because it was no longer effective during the courtship phase. However, I sense a change in the times. What becomes appealing to the opposite sex is something that is different from the norms of the time. When chivalry arose, it was the exception to the rule, which was the ‘I will take whatever woman I please’ , savage and patriarchal paradigm of the ‘dark ages’. So chivalry represented the new man, and exciting empowerment and respect for the lady.
    Chivalry, or some extent of it, was the norm in America starting somewhere in the 50’s as our war hero’s returned to have families. It continued on in some form or other until the 80’s where you started to see a different idea creep in. The ‘bad boy’ was making a comeback. Because the ‘bad boy’ now represented what was new and exciting--A challenge to tame and to conquer, rather than the ‘nice boy’ who could be tamed with the bat of an eyelash! Particularly for the females who were not yet in their ‘nest building’ phase, this was new object of desire. This has continued to some extent to this day, however, I sense that this is changing. The new heartthrobs, (think Twilight, 300, XXX) combine an element of danger with chivalry--A blend of the indomitable bad boy with the charm of the white knight. This is the new man.
    As you know, I am fortunate enough to have a beautiful girlfriend whom I love deeply, and she, I. And certainly, I have held nothing back when it comes to chivalry with m’lady (I brought her new white chariot to your restaurant after all!) But I have also never let go of the sense of danger and excitement in our interaction. My advice to the readers of your blog… Listen to the words of CK very closely. Do not let chivalry die in your heart, and DO NOT become the cur who is neither dangerous nor chivalrous, but preys on the innocence of the fairer sex. There are wolves amongst us who like nothing more than to taste the blood of a mangy dog… and one day, if you persist that wolf will be at your throat. But know as well, there is a line where chivalry becomes trying too hard, and empathy and understanding becomes emasculating supplication. Never lose your honor, but never lose your manhood. That is my humble advice.
    Life is a balancing act… Its greatest rewards come from those who can groove a path in just the right color of the spectrum. Perhaps the day will return where the white knight reigns supreme, but for now, take up the colors of the green knight or the silver knight… And you will find the fair lady to tie her sash to your lance.
    --WP (See more thoughts at



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