How the word chivalry is taken as offensive by some men.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ~Mahatma Gandhi
A few days ago, a gauntlet was thrown at my feet. One of my most vocal critics went on an all-out social media rampage on how Chivalry was all about men becoming women’s doormats. According to him, gentlemen are nothing more than weak men begging women for attentions and favors, apparently of a sexual nature. His attacks spanned throughout my twitter account, my FB group, and even my Blog. All my attempts to explain how modern chivalry is about becoming a better man, and later to simply deflate the situation, fell on deaf ears. I will not get into the details of the colorful insults he spouted towards my person, because I don’t think they add anything positive to the discussion. Truthfully, I was flattered that I deserved such attention. Not only did I have fans and followers, but haters! Besides, the comments were the words of a single jaded man’s need for attention. Or are they?
One of the advantages of writing online nonfiction articles is the ease for people to comment and react to whatever you say. Anything you post falls into an unlimited pool of readers willing to provide a peer review. This forces you to consider carefully the validity of your words since they will be exposed to different points of view on the topic you open for discussion. You will be able to look at your ideals from a critical perspective, sometimes even forcing you to re-evaluate what you previously held as a firm belief. You grow from the entire process; as a writer, as a person, and in my case as a man because chivalry is my topic of choice.
Another benefit from that exposure is you connect with all kinds of people who already discuss similar topics. Some will be like-minded individuals, with whom you can compare notes. Men like fellow GMP author James Micheal Sama’s New Chivalry Movement or blogs like Bring Chivalry Back have also taken the mantel of redefining Chivalry in a modern setting for a Modern Man. You are also given the opportunity to discuss with men and women who might not follow your own beliefs and have a different perspective on a man’s obligations. I have to openly thank fellow GMP author Danny Gibbs with whom I have had several discussions on the subject and his comments on several of my articles are invaluable. Then you have the vehement detractors, people with an absolute opposing view on the subject; my polar opposites. In the case of Chivalry and gentlemanly behavior, to my surprise, these critics are not hardcore feminist women but rather other men!
These men, although few in numbers, will openly ridicule and attack any man willing to use the term Chivalry as if their own manhood was assaulted. They will falsely blame feminism for the death of chivalry, letting people assume that gentlemanly behavior is frowned upon by modern women. For these men, public shaming will become their weapon of choice. Their definition of being a Gentleman is reduced to a Machiavellian plan established by women to control men or a Freudian plan developed by men looking for sex. This last part sometimes makes me wonder if that explains why so many old school gents smoke cigars, but I digress. I guess civility, manners, and even self-respect is out the question because apparently Chivalry is all about a woman’s psychotic need to control men or a man’s primal need for sexual release.
At first I thought I was reading it wrong, drawing conclusions where none were needed. But as I read more articles and comments, as well as comparing my thoughts with the other promoters of modern chivalry, I realized how a pattern started to emerge. Every single negative reaction or comment was established by a man, usually citing the same philosophies or the same authors. The level of hostility in the comment sections actually increased if the article was written by a woman!
We have seen this attitude many times before, men who want to keep their own little boy’s club exclusive. We saw this openly expressed when the gaming/geek community began having an influx of women. Guys (Sorry, I refuse to use the term Men here) would openly attacked the ladies with insults and questioned their motivations for wanting to like video games or comics. Based on the reaction of these boys, you would think girls have cooties. Gentlemen, grow up!
If we are to become Better Men, we CANNOT dismiss women. Our gender is not an island, especially in a world where gender roles and even gender definitions become blurrier every day. Everything that affects women will have a direct or indirect effect on us, the same way that everything that affects men will have a direct or indirect effect on the ladies. Just because you help one gender, does not mean you are against the other. And that is the core of the crux presented before us. This mentality only shows your limited vision and is in reality very dangerous. It is a way to control and manipulate the debate to your advantage and convenience without even dealing with the debate. The base intention is to minimize the worth of anyone who does not agree with them, without bringing any valid arguments to the issue, using public shame as a tool to their benefit.
We see the same strategy it in the marriage equality debate, where if you are in favor of allowing gays to marry; you are against the sanctity of marriage. We see it in the diversity debate, where if you accept the foreigners who want to become a citizen, you are against ‘Merika. We even see it in the religious debate, where if you dare to promote tolerance and acceptance, you are accused of being a terrorist. The notion is to make any issue into a “you are with me or against me” ideology. Anyone who does not validate and accepts their view as the only truth is considered an attacker, so retaliation in full force is needed to crush all opposition outright.
In my younger years I would reply in a similar manner, meeting force with force. I would let it get the better of me. Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I realize the power you give someone over you when you fall into anger. I realized every time I get offended by someone’s comments, I am validating their opinion. Instead of getting irritated about the incident in question or other similar events, I actually felt sorry for the “guys” who have become like this. Something must have happened to them at a personal level to allow their own insecurities to dominate them enough that they feel a need to lash out against men who are willing to be better men. I just hope they will be able to make peace with the daemon they hold so dear to his heart, for nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude. Till they find peace, their ability to grow as men will be severely limited. They might be few in numbers, but unfortunately their very vocal nature gives the rest of us a bad name.
Photo: Rochelle, just rochelle/Flickr