Some chick at the Atlantic is asking for chivalry to come back. As is standard is many modern pro-chivalry arguments, she is talking only of men treating women as special, not about women’s corresponding duties under chivalry.
At one point in the article she asks:
Feminists want men to treat women as equals; traditionalists want men to treat women like ladies. Are the two mutually exclusive?
She then goes on about some stupidity about respect and civility.
The simple answer though is yes.
Chivalry and equality are not and can not exist simultaneously.
Chivalry is based in a hierarchical world-view and can not be separated from that worldview.
Chivalry is far more than simple respect and civility. Chivalry is a code whereby the stronger and superior man (the knight) extends his strength and protection to his inferiors who were too weak to protect themselves (women and children).*
In the chivalric hierarchy knights were strong protectors, women were weak and in need of protection. Inherent inequality is built into chivalry.
In exchange for this protection, women submitted to men and acted like ladies. They complemented the men’s strength.
Chivalry rested on this traditional order of society, where inequality and feminine submission is an accepted fact of life. Without this old order, chivalry is impossible.
Besides inherent inequality, chivalry also requires on other thing: that women act like ladies.
If either of those two conditions is broken then chivalry can not exist. Any acts you do to be “chivalrous” are nothing more than chumphood and supplication.
A lady was originally a noblewomen. Over time, in romantic chivalry it came to refer to a virtuous women. Nowadays, its usually used as somewhat more polite/formal term for women. Only ladies deserve gentlemen, a term with similar origins and complementary meanings as that of lady.
Fundamental to the conception of both the lady and the gentleman is the concept of honour. A man’s honour in the romantic realm was found in his protection of and graciousness towards women. A women’s honour was found in her chastity and her graciousness towards men.
We already know how a gentleman acts; we call it chivalry. So, I will not go further into his duties. But how does a lady act?
A lady is chaste; she does not slut it up, she does not dress like a cheap hooker, she does not tease, and her flirting is light, discrete, and indirect. A lady does not compete with men. A lady acts with propriety and decorum; she is gentle, polite, well-mannered. A lady is feminine, she knows her nature and acts according to it. A lady is beautiful; she knows that her natural god-given beauty is a delight for the rest of the world, so she seeks to maintain it rather than destroy it. A woman who acts this way is deserving of chivalry.
Chivalry is for ladies. It is not for modern, independent women.
Women, you have a choice.
You can like ladies and accept either inequality or submission or you can cast these off.
If you decide to act like ladies, men can act like gentleman and be chivalrous in return.
If you decide to act like modern, independent women, then you have made the choice to reject chivalry. If you ask for men to be chivalrous, all you are asking for is unearned privilege. You sound like a spoiled brat.
If you do not hold up your end of the chivalric bargain, why the hell should men be expected to hold up their end?
Do not ask for or expect chivalry; in fact, you should be repulsed by chivalry.
Enjoy your hook-ups.
At this point some may be wondering if I am anti-chivalry. The answer to that is no, I am very pro-chivalry.
But chivalry exists as a part of the old order. Apart from that old order it is meaningless.
I am pro-chivalry, because I believe in resurrecting that old order. Within that old order, chivalry is a wonderful thing for both men and women. Outside that order, it is nothing.
As long as the old order remains buried, no male has a general duty of duty towards women.
In fact, every male should refuse to extend chivalry to a modern, equal, independent woman.
If you are thinking of being chivalrous ask yourself three questions:
1) Does the woman I am about to be chivalrous think she is my equal?
2) Does the woman I am about to be chivalrous to think a women’s place is to submit to a man?**
3) Does this women I am about to be chivalrous comport herself as a lady?
If the answer to the first is yes and the second is no, treat her as the equal she believes herself to be. (If you do not know the answer, use social cues to determine the likely answer).
Do not give her chivalry. Do not hold the door open for her. Do not pay for her. Do not fight for her. Do not die for her.
As well, I would suggest not marrying her, but that’s an argument distinct from chivalry.
To give chivalry to any women who believes she is equal to you is to insult her. Chivalry implies and necessitates inferiority; by giving it to her you are telling her she is either inferior to or in submission to you. Given her stance on equality this should be repugnant to her.
Any women who believes they are equal yet demands chivalry is either insulting herself, selfish, or just plain stupid. Refuse to play into her stupidity.
Respect a women who thinks she’s your equal by treating her like an equal.
If the answer to the third question is no, then she is not a lady and not worthy of knightly protection. Do not waste yourself on her.
If a women acts like a lady, and believes in either male superiority or complementarianism, then be chivalrous. She is submitting to you, your protection, and your providence and is deserving of having it provided to her. Do not fail her.
* The worldview of the chivalric code was also based on militarism, fuedalism, and Christianity. From these flowed other parts to the code such as knightly honour, duties to countrymen/Christians, and duties to God, which are also intrinsic to the code, but these aspects are not what most discuss when talking of chivalry nowadays. For this particular post, chivalry will refer only to knightly duties to women as distinct from the other parts of the code, unless otherwise stated. I’m not sure if it is possible for the part of the code dealing with knightly duties to women can be separated from the rest of the code and remain logically coherent, but in practice it has been, so I will assume for this post that it can be.
** This second question allows for complementarians/first mates who may hold to metaphysical equality, but not practical equality. I would argue that practical inequality is all that is fully necessary for chivalry to be extended, so complementarians and first mates should be provided with the protection of chivalry. But I could see where it could be debatable to hold metaphysical inequality as being necessary for chivalry; in which case you would withhold chivalry from most complementarians/first mates.