The Death of Chivalry

So at work today, a group of us were all sitting around talking about zombie apocalypses and such (which everyone at my work seems well-prepared for, by the way), when one of the guys, who has an attachment to reality for some reason, asked the sensible question: “How did we get talking about zombies?”

I answered before really thinking.  “Fred asked me what I did on Valentines Day.”

Now the BACKSTORY to that comment is that I had been playing a flash game all Monday, that largely focused on retaking a city from the zombies.  But it took me a while to explain that, what with my co-workers laughing and all.  By this point, none of them are really shocked by what I say anymore.

Zombie games are surprisingly popular, and I would love to talk about them and the zombie apocalypse setup in general, but that actually has rather little to do with what I wanted to talk about today.  Maybe next week. 

I started with that story for two reasons.  A) To show that I often say stupid things–no real surprise, and B) to show that I didn’t have any girlfriends to attend to on Valentines Day.  These are both important reasons, because they will explain why I am stupid enough to blame the death of chivalry on females, or rather why I am stupid enough to say so.

So.  I will rant for a bit on Valentines, Chivalry, and Feminism in general, and when I am done, anyone that is interested may mark down this post as the death of my love life.  (Or would, if I had a love life.) However, I hold out some hope in memory of something a friend of mine once said.  Namely: “Who needs a girlfriend when you have a physics textbook?”  This cheers me, because the friend in question is currently married, and if he can say something like that and still come out on top, why not me, hey?

At college, the administration once held a seminar on dating.  Don’t ask me why.  I attended.  REALLY don’t ask me why.  One of the concerns brought up by the females at the seminar was that men seldom ask girls out anymore, or at least that they seem incredibly shy and hesitant about doing so.  This is probably not the case with ALL men, but I imagine it is not an uncommon problem. 

To my mind, it is because guys are afraid of offending girls these days.  And the reason WHY guys are so frightened has a lot to do with the New Female–the strong, Amazonian female who can lead a business as well as an army and simply HATES men commenting on her nice figure or striking profile (for some reason she always has these, no idea why).  Movies delight in depicting the strong-willed woman who doesn’t need a man’s help and scorns all feeble attempts at wooing her.  At least, those attempts that don’t involve guns, fast cars, and lots of explosions. 

For a man without any of those, the unintentional message is that women do not WANT to be appreciated as women, but as powerful forces of nature.  And also, that they do not want to be looked at as marriage material, but as “brotherly” (or if you must, “sisterly”) comrades in a common enterprise.  Romance, if it happens at all, should happen without any effort from any party, depending instead on the forces of circumstance (i.e. guns, fast cars, explosions).

This is, of course, an exaggeration, but it is nonetheless a popular image, and one that is not wholly discordant with reality.  Today we have laws, guidelines, and lawsuits to ensure that women are treated solely as men.  Granted, in the matter of civil rights that is a fine and good thing, but in practicality it becomes a bit more complicated.  Treating women with respect is no longer a courtesy, it is a compulsion.  And it is a different kind of respect, too, a sort of: “I respect your manly abilities and consider you to be nearly a man in all matters of importance.” 

There is no longer the sort of pride in feminine attributes or attitudes that used to characterize culture.   The gracious lady of old becomes a brainless servant of the machine, the caring mother generally a diminished woman who gave up so much for a “lesser” calling.  Being a woman, in the historical sense, is no longer popular.  Rather, the tendency is to sniff at”ladylike” things as prudish conventions intended to keep women in check.

It is hardly curious, then, that as the “ladylike” mannerisms become taboo, that the “gentlemanly” attitude also becomes unpopular. The gentlemanly treatment of a lady was based, obviously, on the fact that she WAS a lady.  But when the woman in question no longer wishes to be considered a lady, well, what does a gentleman do?  When you are taught and ordered to forget all distinctions between yourself and a woman, is it really that surprising that you stop treating her as someone special?

Courtesy toward women, in the sense of chivalry, used to spring from a respect of the opposite gender’s distinct traits and strengths.  A respect of womanhood in general.  It also used to be a matter of personal conviction, springing from the gentleman’s propriety. 

Now, of course, it also used to be ignored a great deal, which is probably why so many laws were made to ensure fair treatment of women.  Beatings and such are forbidden now, and that is well.  But that removes chivalry from the state of virtue and makes it simply a matter of abiding by the law.  Still, perhaps that was worth it.

However, the new craze of woman and man as identical entities–as beings equally suited to their different tasks–was not, in my mind.  The idea of treating women and men EXACTLY the same had the unintended consequence of treating women like men–brutally and bluntly.  No longer required to treat women as something special, many men went the other way completely and treated them as nothing important.

An extreme example, of course, but it reflects what happens at the more subtle level.  A guy is no longer certain how a woman should be treated, because he is not sure if she wants to be treated as a woman.  Nor is he sure whether he should treat her as anything special, because according to law and the politically correct thought of the day, she isn’t.

It’s too bad, because there are plenty of nice girls out there who have nothing to do with this male==female nonsense, and who nonetheless suffer the consequence of having to deal with cautious men.  There are even quite a few less nice but still perfectly feminine girls who are frustrated with boys inability to talk to them. But it IS a consequence of the culture.

Of course, there are also plenty of men who don’t bother with all this angst and go straight to the punch.  They’ve adapted well, and really all us spineless guys ought to learn a lesson from them and just plunge in.  Chances are, if you’re the sort of guy who worries about this sort of thing, you wouldn’t really want a girl who was bothered by it in the first place (this is advice a girl at college gave me about opening doors).  But girls… if you’re wondering WHY a certain guy never seems to have the nerve to talk to you, or why no one seems to treat you as anything special… blame the feminists.


3 thoughts on “The Death of Chivalry

  1. Quit yer bellyachin and go ask someone out.Feminism don’t have nothing on my MANLYNESS!!!I don’t think you’d like it any better if we followed some of the older rules of courtship, where girls were allowed to have more than one suitor, but guys were not.Even if you feel intimidated by women who make more money than you, at least you are taller than most girls, young enough, not bald, and kind of intelligent when you arn’t watching Muppets.  The worst that could happen is that she says no and DRAMA ensues.  Try not to be afraid of the drama.  Girls actually enjoy it.  I have often heard girls talk in excited tones about “what a stalker so-and-so is.”  How scary it must be for a girl to go through college without any guys thinking about her in a romantic way.  They try to make up for it by talking a lot about the little romance that does happen, even if it is tragic romance.The trick is to live in the moment a little.  The perfect girl will have a few flaws to make you feel better about your own.  In fact, the more that she has the better you’ll feel.  Don’t try to evaluate her over and over before you ask her out, that’s what a stalker would do.  Focus on the essentials, like if you enjoy talking to her. 

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  2. You sound so fatalistic in this entry.  Some of what you say may be somewhat true of some girls, but I would bet you that ninety percent of the girls you know (at least those in your church and formerly at GCC) would be flattered to be asked out by you and would think better of you because of it (although that doesn’t mean that they would necessarily accept, but you have to get over that.)  I think you’re just using this “feminism” as an excuse to justify the cowardice that is innate for many men.  Too many guys are into high school-style romance these days–they have to hear from someone that some girl likes them, and then they have to make sure of it, and only then will they ask her out.  I know it because I felt like this for several years.  It saves the ego, and you can justify it by thinking “I’ll be bothering her if I ask her out, so I have to make sure she’s interested first.”  It’s not intelligent, not very productive, and not at all romantic.  Romantic is boldly saying “I am interested in this girl and I will pursue her” and following through with it.In conclusion, I totally echo Matthewnails.  I am very intrigued that you made an entry like this though–you always struck me as the kind of person who felt like he wouldn’t be ready for a girlfriend for many years, and now it sounds like you’ve progressed to the next stage, of wishing you could do something but feeling incapable.  Now you should skip to the next stage by taking action regardless of what you think about how society does or ought to function.On another note: why the heck is that game so addictive?  I don’t understand it at all, it’s not really that fun, but I keep playing it…

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  3. @Rhadryn – Does EVERYONE know that game?  The guys at my work are playing it now.  I’d say partly its addictive because of its continuous nature–there’s ALWAYS something new that’s going to happen tomorrow, and it can’t take much longer.  Partly also, I guess it’s just the thrill of rebuilding civilization on your terms.  Very refreshing to actually take back the city from the zombies, instead of merely trying to escape it.The point of the post wasn’t ENTIRELY my feeling incapable of the situation, but that’s definitely in there.  You and MatthewNails have definite points.  I should say, though, that others have agreed with this theory.  Of course, perhaps they’re simply spineless lazy bums like me, but that’s another story.

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