The New Chivalry

The feminists came along and said that chivalry was condescending, that women were to be viewed as equals in all things and that social codes dictating otherwise were anachronistic. They told boys to treat girls as they would boys, and girls were taught to view a man’s sacrificial behavior as a sign of utter contempt. This explains why some men have encountered hear—me—roar types who considered the men’s attempt to hold a door for them an affront. Ah, the fruits of feminism: female egos as bloated as they are fragile.

So, the great white knight of chivalry is supposed to be dead, slain by the feminist dragon of androgyny. And although he lives on in the stout hearts of the last hard men (no, not the movie), I must confess, the new, egalitarian norms are not entirely without appeal. The idea of a bevy of shrieking feminists going down with the ship has a certain desirable equality to it.

In light of the above, one might be inclined to eulogize that much maligned knight in shining armor and let him rest in peace. After all, double—standards in the treatment of the sexes are a thing of the past… or so they say. You see, while that old chivalry’s habitat has been denuded, relegating it to a few pristine bastions of traditionalism, it has not left a void. It has been replaced. Replaced by a new chivalry.

What is the new chivalry? Like the old chivalry, the new version involves social codes and social pressure to enforce them, but also much, much more. The new chivalry has also been written into law; it is embodied by affirmative—action and set—aside programs that favor women, and by legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which now serves as a vehicle through which to empower and fund feminist groups. We see the new chivalry in police domestic violence procedures that automatically place the onus on men and in family courts that are biased against them.

Most of all, though, there are the aforementioned social codes. The new chivalry is all around us, only, it has become so much a part of the fabric of the culture that many of us don’t even sense it. It’s manifested in the commercials that will portray men but never women as buffoons, and in a media and popular culture that use violence against men to evoke laughs while sanctimoniously admonishing against the acceptance of same against women.

We also see it in demeaning jokes, sentiments and symbols (such as the ‘All Men Are Bastards’ kitchen knife block sold online) that are always XY—specific. What is often far less transparent is the constant carrying of water for feminist causes, a practice that runs the gamut from overt advocacy to the most subtle forms of shilling. And lest you wonder why I label this ‘the new chivalry,’ be not bemused. For all the incessant blather about equality, despite all the preaching and posturing and perturbation to tradition, I can hear a little voice in the background, whispering, ever so softly, like butterfly wings, ‘Take it easy on her . . . she’s only a girl.’

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