Setting The Record Straight: Gynocentrism, Biology, Culture And The Gender Empathy Gap

This article is dedicated to Gender Empathy Gap Day on July the 11th. To all men and boys, you do matter and more than you know! 

What is gynocentrism? In the simplest sense it is the preferential concern for the well-being of women and girls and their elevation in social status on the basis of their sex. It is the gender empathy gap. It is the discrimination of men and boys and in favour of women and girls. It is female supremacy and female superiority. In a word it is bigotry. We live in a culture that normalises gynocentrism so well, that people can run targeted campaigns solely promoting the concern for the female homeless and completely ignoring the majority of homeless that are male. People will even seriously argue the primary victims of war are in fact women and ignore the millions of male dead.

There are many other countless examples like this illustrating the gender empathy gap. The myopic concern over the lack of women and girls in STEM and the complete silence and inaction on men and boys falling behind at every level of education from kindergarten to postgraduate study is one example. The comparative lack of funding for men’s health in relation to women’s health, despite men living considerably shorter lifespans, dying of most major diseases earlier and in higher numbers and men’s far higher rates of suicide is another example. To add insult to injury, there are the female only quotas in employment and education and a complete lack of any effort to increase male representation in professions you would think gender diversity would be of highest relevance like psychology, education and medicine.

Perhaps the most glaringly obvious example is the willingness of society to force men off to be cannon fodder in war, whilst sparing women this male privilege. Possibly with that last example there will be some change in the US[1] where it concerns selective service. Even then it will be men no doubt who will actually be the ones deployed in combat zones in harm’s way if a major war breaks out, just as it is men that are overwhelmingly expected and in fact demanded by society to do all of the dangerous, dirty and unglamorous work in society. Work which frequently leads to chronic injury and sometimes death.

We live in a gynocentric culture and women enjoy a monopoly where it concerns receiving empathy from society for their issues as a group and as individuals. Our culture routinely segregates men and boys from women and girls where it concerns matters to do with who gets support and who does not and who gets preferential treatment with quotas and who has to excel purely on merit and be shamed for doing so. The truth of the matter is that we do live in a society of gender segregation with women elevated above men. The dominant gender ideology of our age, naturally reflects the bigotry of our age. Feminism did not create this bigotry, feminism emerged from it and is a reflection of a longstanding prejudice we have.

We are told this society is a patriarchy and yet the wider culture and every institution at every level condemns the very behaviour and systems of discrimination that feminism claims our society normalises. Like with so many things, feminist ideology has become projection and an inversion of reality. Has it always been this way? No it has not always been this way. I would not go as far as to say our past societies were purely patriarchal as feminists have described them, however I also would not go as far as to say past society has been purely gynocentric either.  Like with many aspects of society, for most of recorded history there has always been a mixture of elements in our culture that discriminate sometimes in favour of men and sometimes in favour of women. As Dr. Warren Farrell has written about in his book, The Myth Of Male Power[2], many of these double standards come from gender roles that themselves have arisen from societies relentless need to survive.

Whilst both sexes have faced unfair treatment on the basis of their sex, there has been a consistent pattern in our culture over the last 150 years to correct discrimination facing women. There has been relatively little current or historical effort to correct discrimination facing men. Why the difference? The gender empathy gap is the reason. Once technological change reduced the daily pressures on communities to survive and permitted desirable social change, the empathy we have for women drove female emancipation. In contrast we have not seen the same social change where it concerns the life of men and this is because our culture has lacked and still lacks the degree of empathy it has for women where it concerns men and the issues men face.

Men are still bound by the same traditional gender expectations that they have always been expected to adhere to. To protect and provide for others, often at their own expense and even sacrifice their lives in the process of doing so. Men are expected to not be the recipient of support and compassion from society and instead be the provider of such support. We have HeForShe campaigns but no SheForHe campaigns. We have White Ribbon campaigns and calls for men to stand up for women facing domestic violence, but no comparative movement for male victims of domestic violence, despite substantive rates of female perpetrated intimate partner violence against men.

Many point to biology as the origin of the gender empathy gap, making relatively simplistic arguments that the empathy gap has to do with women giving birth and the dependence on the community for enough women to survive so society can replace itself (the golden uterus dogma). The problem with this alluring but overly simplistic idea is that like the gender wage gap narrative, this explanation reduces a complex multivariate problem of sustaining a community or society into a model that has little resemblance to actual reality.

The golden uterus explanation for the gender empathy gap, reduces relatively complex requirements for a population to sustain itself down to primarily or exclusively one variable, simple reproduction. It does not give any proper or proportionate consideration for the numerous other factors that determine if a population will survive or perish, like maintaining the food supply and basic shelter. Many of these other factors related to survival, men play a more important or equally important role in. The golden uterus dogma does not consider the impact of losing the men and consequently the manpower available to provide the necessary food and resources a population needs to continue to subsist. Whilst a society may die out if enough women are lost, the same is true if enough men are lost and there are not enough men around to support the survival of the community. This narrow view of focusing solely on uteri and reproduction, also does not consider the impact of manpower allowing a society to thrive instead of merely subsist and in doing so making a society adaptable enough to withstand frequent environmental challenges and not die out.

Population size means little if everyone is starving and breeding without regard to basic survival constraints. This is why arranged marriage has been so common in so many cultures over the centuries, including in prehistoric times and why sexual relations between the sexes have often been heavily regulated by the community and by parents. More babies mean the community needs to support more children that cannot fend for themselves. Societies have been more concerned with regulating reproduction rather than focusing purely on maximising reproduction and how many uteri were available. Some cultures even still engage in female infanticide or leave female infants to the elements when they cannot be supported. Such practices of course are indefensible on moral grounds, but their existence and similar practices like them, fly in the face of this notion possessing a uterus makes someone more valuable as a human being and this therefore explains the gender empathy gap. The reality on the ground is more complicated than that.

Whilst I would not agree with the simplistic assertion women being the rate limiting factor of reproduction makes them more valuable and thus explains the gender empathy gap, biology is certainly involved to at least some degree in causing gynocentrism and the gender empathy gap. Sex differences arising from differences in life history strategy, mean that there is in my view a greater tendency for women to develop physical and psychological characteristics that elicit support or empathy from the community and a greater tendency for men to develop characteristics that promote a more individualistic, self-sufficient approach to survival and maximising reproductive success.

When a man can father hundreds of offspring, it can pay to take greater risks to maximise reproductive success and exhibit a high degree of personal agency and self-sufficiency and rely less on the community for support. In contrast when you can mother only a few dozen offspring at the most and spend considerable periods of time in a vulnerable physical state whilst pregnant and caring for infants, it can pay to take less risks and be able to garner the attention and empathy of the wider community for support.

The biological underpinnings of the gender empathy gap, is not about who is the more valuable sex. Such an explanation ironically reflects the same gynocentric bias it attempts to objectively explain without prejudice and then predictably fails in doing so. The biology behind the gender empathy gap, is about differences in how each sex maximises their chances of propagating their own genetic line and how these differences can work to the advantage and disadvantage of each sex depending on the scenario. At the extreme dysfunctional end of these differences, we get a gynocentric culture that promotes male hyperagency and shuns concern for men and encourages female hypoagency and treats women like children.

The greater degree of female neoteny stimulating a greater degree of societal concern for women, is one such example of a sex difference that can drive the gender empathy gap. Female neoteny is in fact not the product of women being more valuable because they possess a vagina. Evolutionary biology is a bit more complicated than repeating reductive gynocentric pseudoscience to justify the status quo, just as racists and eugenicists of the past did with debunked racial science ideas like Drapetomania[3], a theory that slaves desiring their freedom were suffering from mental illness!

Whilst there is undoubtedly a biological reality to the gender empathy gap. It is also a reality in our species, that sex differences in neoteny are not as pronounced as they are in many other animals and primates. It is also a fact that women and girls can and do spend a great deal of time exaggerating their neotenous appearance. These two observations can be replicated in relation to many of the major emotional, sexual and social triggers driving gynocentrism.

Peter Wright and Paul Elam have discussed the role of superstimuli and superresponses to those superstimuli at length in their works Chasing The Dragon[4] and Slaying The Dragon[5]. We live in an environment saturated with superstimuli that exaggerate female vulnerability, just as we live in an environment that amplifies the prevalence of salt and sugar in our diet and these superstimuli lead to an exaggerated superresponse to those stimuli. We cannot consider biology in isolation to the environment, particularly where it concerns the role of superstimuli underpinning the gender empathy gap and the role of modern communications and social media in amplifying their impact far beyond any evolved tendency to view women as the more vulnerable sex in need of support. We have in the West an environment full of feminist narratives of female victimhood and vulnerability and male perpetration and power which act as a form of gynocentric social superstimuli, that collectively with exaggerated female neoteny, put any evolved biological predisposition for gynocentrism on hyper drive. This then leads to male hyperagency and female hypoagency and a resulting gender empathy gap.

So whilst biology is involved, it is helpful to illustrate precisely how. When you roll a ball up a hill it has potential energy. If you push the ball down the hill it has a tendency to move in that direction and release that potential energy. Our biological predispositions toward various behaviours are similar in that regard only far more complex. Imagine the weather conditions that need to manifest themselves in a precise way to generate a tornado. The atmosphere on its own cannot generate a tornado unless it is in a particular state from local environmental conditions. Gynocentrism is similar in this regard and arises from a very complex interplay of biology and environment. When we are saying behaviour is biological, we are essentially stating the obvious. All behaviour involves a biological being and biological processes, but that is distinctively different from stating that a certain behaviour is an absolute like breathing and invariantly expressed regardless of the environment. Gynocentrism and the gender empathy gap are not absolute biological invariants, they are biological potentials which are expressed to different degrees depending on environmental conditions. In the West this biological potential is expressed to an exaggerated degree thanks to gynocentric superstimuli.

The frequent retort to this is the following question, “Can you find me a culture that is not gynocentric?”. Then you cite examples and then they cite back examples of gynocentrism in said culture. Of course if you look hard enough you can find examples of all sorts of behaviour in a given culture, that does not mean gynocentrism is mainstream in that culture, or acceptable to its social norms. It is also a fact that certain customs or laws may appear to be driven by gynocentrism in a given culture from a Western vantage point, when in fact there may be other reasons behind them that have little or nothing to do with gynocentrism. What is interesting though is the same people that ask these questions will not ask the question, “Can you point to a culture that is entirely gynocentric?”. Even our Western culture as gynocentric as it may appear, is not entirely gynocentric. That is to say, that our culture like many cultures is a complex mixture of different forces acting together, frequently in opposition all at the same time.

It would be false to suggest gynocentrism does not exist at all and it would be false to say gynocentrism is reflected throughout all cultures of the world at every level and in every context. In other words, it would be incorrect to say that either the existence or nonexistence of gynocentrism is an absolute and a biological invariant. Gynocentrism exists, but it does indeed vary across environments and even within cultures. Even how gynocentrism manifests in the West from one country to the next can be different. Gynocentrism is not a biologically invariant behaviour like breathing.

Gynocentrism is a complex set of behaviours that are learned from our culture and reinforced through our institutions, our media and our laws. Biology is just the substrate these forces act upon. The influence of our culture and our institutions on our biological predispositions in how we perceive and act on vulnerability when it comes to biological sex cannot be understated. Behavioural conditioning has ample empirical evidence supporting its existence in animals and humans. The results from classical conditioning and operant conditioning from numerous studies have been replicated thousands of times. It would be easy to believe that in every brain there is a basic program governing every aspect of human cognition and behaviour from breathing to which political ideology a person supports, but the reality is far more complicated.

How complicated? Watch Prof. Robert Sapolsky’s lecture series on behavioural biology and the limits of reductionism when explaining biological systems, particularly his first introductory lecture[6] and lecture on chaos theory[7]. To put it simply we really cannot reduce behaviour down to a single aspect of biology or culture or a genetic lock and key mechanism. Behind every behaviour there are hundreds, if not thousands of processes both biological and cultural working together to produce the complex behaviours we see. Like the weather the interactions are so complex and chaotic they are difficult to predict with pinpoint accuracy.

The reality is that social learning and conditioning, just like biology, does play a significant role in how we develop as people and how we collectively behave. Our legal system and the billions of dollars spent on marketing is based on this premise. Our own militaries and intelligence agencies and those of our adversary’s, understand the importance of psychological warfare and controlling the narrative through propaganda. Organised religion relies upon social learning and behavioural reinforcement of approved customs and social norms. There is no biological program hardwired into people’s brains to not eat meat on Good Friday, that is learned behaviour.

To suggest almost one thousand years of gynocentric cultural conditioning from one generation to the next and centuries of institutional enshrinement of gynocentric double standards has not had any impact on how we as biological beings behave, flies in the face of ample historical and scientific evidence. Evidence to show tradition, narratives of our history and conditioning associated with those traditions and narratives, shapes perception and shapes behaviour. Where do you think the concept of “man up” and being a “real man” comes from? That is basic social programming and operant conditioning at work to beat men over the head with when men start asking questions about gynocentric double standards.

Men and society at large have been under the assault of gynocentric social programming for centuries. The gender empathy gap exists because we have centuries of narratives and conditioning playing on biological potentials to view women as the more vulnerable party and men as powerful agents. It is analogous to playing keys in a certain sequence on a piano to produce a gynocentric melody that everyone becomes entrained into thinking as normal. It is a melody of social programming where men are portrayed as strong and as demonic in need of redemption from their toxic masculinity and women are portrayed as vulnerable and angelic in need of saving and adulation for their feminine divinity. This is called moral typecasting and there is evidence[8] to show that men are morally typecast as the less vulnerable sex and the sex least deserving of support and so we predictably demonstrate a lower expression of empathy toward them. Moral typecasting is learned and it impacts how we perceive the world and behave.

None of this is insurmountable though. Narratives change, evolve and are replaced over time with better narratives as the culture matures and evolves to higher and higher levels of moral development and sophistication. There was a time when sacrificing female virgins to appease the gods to ensure a good future harvest was considered acceptable and the right thing to do. We do not do that anymore, we evolved beyond practices we now consider to be barbaric or discriminatory but were once considered acceptable in the past.

Racism has a biological element to it as well. Humans have a biological predisposition to be tribal and form groups based on shared genetic heritage. Just as with gynocentrism, there are countless examples of racism throughout history and arguably over a far longer period of time. Just as with gynocentrism there have been narratives justifying discrimination, the segregation of races and even their extermination. Gynocentrism is nothing special. Racists of the past used the same pseudoscientific use of biology to justify their bigotry of racial superiority, just as some people currently do attempting to justify and rationalise gynocentrism as some immutable biological law that our species is unable to rise above. If we accepted such pseudoscientific nonsense on the matter of race, then we would not be living in the society we do today in the West. The reality is that despite our tribalistic nature, we have been able to rise above any biological predisposition we have and make progress against racism. The same can be true for gynocentrism which is the modern bigotry of our time.

The appeals to nature to explain and justify gynocentrism, doing nothing to address it and attacking those that do, are really just excuses people are using to avoid asking tough questions about human nature and about themselves. That is why there is so much vitriol when you dare question the idea gynocentrism is some immutable law of human behaviour. Human beings are herd animals and that too is biological. Despite the prevalence of herd mentality, groupthink and the desire for people to conform and despite numerous historical examples of the atrocities that have unfolded as a result and the research[9] demonstrating their power, these important aspects of human behaviour barely have been mentioned in relation to explaining gynocentrism. People are to an extent sheep and that permits people to blindly go along with all sorts of ideas, even when they are completely wrong and people know they are wrong. The biological desire to conform and not to be different from the group is strong. I would argue it is the desire to conform to gynocentric double standards that are socially enforced, that is the single most powerful driver of gynocentrism. It is the same force behind the groupthink we saw unfold in the pandemic and the herd mentality that resulted in the extermination of millions of Jews.

Once the desire to conform is removed or exhausted, men go their own way. The desire to conform has limits and every major social change or revolution that has occurred throughout history has always begun with a few outliers reaching the end of their patience and rebelling before it gradually becomes an unstoppable force and attracts millions of followers. As conditions become more and more unbearable, people one by one start to reach a tipping point where they will no longer conform and no longer obey. Even the desire to conform could not stop the social change of the civil rights movement and even in Nazi Germany there were multiple acts of resistance, including within the Germany Army itself. Eventually sooner or later, people get sick of conforming and desire change. That too is biological and human nature. People’s desire to conform only goes so far with their own biological interests before it becomes advantageous to rebel.

That is truly what our gynocentric society is afraid of. The gender empathy gap exists in large part because men acquiesce and go along with it. What can we do to change this? From my perspective it starts with men themselves. If men do not express any concern for their own well-being, then how can men expect the rest of the population to share that concern? If men continue to sign up to a marriage contract and are fully aware of the bias in divorce and family court, there is no reason to complain when they join the line of men subjected to the injustice of divorce and family court. Men teach society how to treat them through their own actions or lack of inaction to protect their wellbeing and interests. It is very simple stop acquiescing. From my experience men are far too willing to worry about pleasing other people where it concerns gynocentrism and especially worry far too much about female approval and their disapproval. Women are no more the gatekeepers of relationships than men are. It is all a matter of boundaries and enforcing those boundaries. Ask yourself these questions, if you are a man and worried about such things:

Why would you worry about the approval of someone that regards your well-being either as a secondary concern or of little to no concern at all?

What value is there really in a social connection where the other person sees you as existing to please them and values you solely for what you can do for them without reciprocity, if you can even call it a social connection at all let alone a relationship?

Men are raised from birth to view women as the fairer sex and the more peaceful and caring sex. This has profound impacts on how men view themselves in relation to women. However when those decades of social programming start to unravel from direct exposure to the wrongs and injustices of our modern gynocentric culture, men in increasing numbers are starting to question the narratives they have been told.

Part of addressing the gender empathy gap is to teach men that they are worthy of respect because they are men and that respect for their well-being is something that they must protect irrespective of what our dysfunctional gynocentric culture is trying to tell them. Men are remarkable creatures when you consider what men can do. A single man can literally change the world and leave a legacy lasting thousands of years. All of the men we would regard as great, often did things that went against the orthodoxy of their time. Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King etc. You cannot stand up to the culture when you do not believe in yourself and so that is the very first step men must take. It is one thing for me to write this and it is another for men to truly believe it about themselves deep in their bones.

Men have been lied to. Men have been told by this gynocentric culture they are disposable and are human doings. The truth is this gynocentric culture cannot exist without men believing those lies. In order for a human male to do anything and to be of use to anyone, they must regard themselves as a human being first and view themselves as worthy of basic care and look after themselves. How much male potential is squandered by men failing to take care of themselves and measuring themselves solely by what they do first whilst neglecting their wellbeing? How much does society lose by failing to take care of male wellbeing? A great deal.

If men want to address gynocentrism and resolve the gender empathy gap, then they have to value themselves enough to want to change how they are treated. Until men demand change, nothing will change, it is that simple. Forging a new narrative about men, women, power and vulnerability is also a key to how men demand this change. We need to play a new melody of cultural narratives on our biological piano that better resembles the world we want to live in and fully utilises our biological potential in a more positive and constructive way. Whenever it is brought up that we should have a tally on how many women have died from domestic violence over the year, men should be demanding the same be done for male victims and perhaps demands from men for a male suicide and homeless tally would not go astray either.

Men need to stop caring about what women think. If women have any value to men at all, then it is in loving them and supporting them as fellow human beings, as loved ones and as partners (and I would say the same advice for women). The same applies to men and how they regard their fellow man. What sort of man shames another man for protecting his well-being and his rights as a man? What sort of man abandons moral principles once a woman is involved? What sort of man shames another man that does not want to live in a subservient, second class and frequently demonised position in relation to women because he is male? No man at all. Masculinity in its basic form is self-respect and standing up for yourself and what you believe in and your values. The original code for chivalry before it was corrupted by our gynocentric culture was a military code of honour between men. It was a code that enshrined respect between men. This code needs to be revived and chivalry needs to be taken back by men and restored free of gynocentric corruption, perhaps with some modern modifications.

A gynocentric culture cannot tolerate a population of men that stand up for themselves and know their own worth in relation to women. This is why such much effort is put in and continues to be put into trying to “educate” men to respect women as some elevated aristocracy and every effort is made to demonise men and silence any attempt to instil self-respect in men. Self-respecting men are not violent unless they are defending themselves and do not disrespect women or men unless they act in a disrespectful manner.

Men have the moral high ground when they realise that self-respect is not oppression and that the true oppressors are the very people teaching them they are toxic, disposable, deserving of hate and inferior simply because they are male. Addressing the gender empathy gap starts with men taking that very first step of living life with self-respect and enforcing their personal boundaries. The next step is spreading a superior narrative that reflects the true reality of power and vulnerability when it comes to men and women in the modern world and calling out attempts to silence that narrative for the hate and oppression that it truly is. In the end lies cannot compete with the truth.

Gynocentric culture reduces fertility rates. When you elevate catering to female narcissism above the good of society and marginalising men, your society begins to die out. Whatever biological forces prevail, only societies that possess cultures that harness their genetics in ways that further their own existence will survive. Men must rise up for themselves, but also for the future of their communities. Masculinity and civilisation go hand in glove.











The Masochism of Sir Lancelot

Knight Of The Hangman’s Cart

On a surface level, Knight of the Cart centers around the exploits of a knight (Sir Lancelot) and his endeavors to rescue his queen (Guinevere) from kidnappers. On a deeper level, however, Knight of the Cart tells the story of a masochist, who willingly suffers at his dominatrix’s behest. With every step Lancelot takes, the line between pain and pleasure is blurred. In one particular instance, the knight braves a hazardous bridge of sharpened steel. He is wounded, but this pain soon becomes a source of gratification:

Love, which led and guided him,
Comforted and healed him at once
And made his suffering a pleasure

In this passage, pain and pleasure appear conflated. This conflation is one of the central themes of Chrétien’s narrative, and it perfectly encapsulates Lancelot’s relationship with Guinevere. She exists simultaneously as a source of pain and pleasure. In fact, she is the very impetus of their coalescence. Lancelot’s affection for Guinevere and his status as a courtly lover act as driving forces that urge him ever onward, skewing his perception of pain and bringing him into a world of masochistic pleasure. Love is his guide, and she is a cruel and sadistic mistress.

The implications of this passage do not stop here, however. The association between pain and pleasure and the dichotomy of male subordination/female domination are as relevant to Knight of the Cart as they are to courtly culture at large. In Chrétien’s writing, we see not only the passionate submission of one knight to one lady. We see one of the first, fully realized instances of sadomasochistic erotica. We see how Venus got her furs. Scholars and historians have recognized the pervading masochism of this text but have yet to attribute this masochism to a larger tradition of textual eroticism. In the following pages, we will explore the relationship between Lancelot and sadomasochistic erotica, the role of humiliation in Lancelot’s masochism, and Knight of the Cart’s connection to modern BDSM.

* * * *

Terms like sadomasochism were coined hundreds of years after the medieval period, yet they are strewn throughout these pages [Knight Of The Cart]. The plain and simple truth is that Europe was ill-equipped to address sadistic and masochistic practices as a collective during the Middle Ages. It lacked the terminology necessary to express mass, public recognition. That is not to say that sadomasochism was not deeply embedded in the public consciousness, because it was. It was so ingrained that it began seeping into the realm of popular culture and media. Elements of sadomasochistic practices are found all throughout Europe during the medieval period, most notably during the 12th century, when courtly culture was still in its naissance.

During the 1100’s, this cultural phenomena gave birth to what would come to be known as courtly romance. The courtly romance genre is perhaps the most abundant source of evidence that sadomasochism was not a foreign concept at the time. It was certainly no foreign concept to Chrétien de Troyes. As a troubadour, Chrétien committed several works to the courtly romance genre. One of his romances, Knight of the Cart, is laden with sadomasochistic subtext. But before one can explore the elements of sadomasochism that appear in this narrative, it is imperative to delve first into the preexisting scholarly responses to Chrétien’s writing.

* * * *

The Beheading

After Lancelot defeats a dishonorable knight, a maiden requests the fallen knight’s head. She essentially puts Lancelot to the task of decapitating the knight he has just defeated. He is then torn between his desire to appease the lady, and his desire to satisfy his own, personal sense of justice (Lancelot’s personal sense of justice entails having mercy for his fallen foe). Feinstein recognizes this inner turmoil when she alludes to “Lancelot’s struggle as to how to keep both his promise to give the lady the head of the defeated knight and grant the defeated knight mercy, as is his custom.” In the end, Lancelot submits to the lady’s wishes, and this submission is central to the subordination/domination that defines male/female relations in this text.

This courtly dichotomy of submissiveness and dominance is integral to Feinstein’s interpretation and overall understanding of courtly romance, and beheading is one of the linchpins holding this dichotomy together. On the surface, the act of a man beheading another man (whether at the behest of a woman or not) would seem to be an immediate expression of masculine power, but this is not how beheading functions in Chrétien’s narrative. Rather, it functions as an example of the lengths to which Lancelot will go to appease a lady.

According to Feinstein, “Chrétien’s use of beheading as closure becomes identified with issues of control or authority not as they refer to male rule, but as they relate specifically to women. . .In Chrétien’s romance, love is defined and controlled by women.” In Knight of the Cart, Lancelot is ultimately submissive to the wishes of every lady he comes across, and this is especially true of Guinevere. Their courtly love, and courtly love in general for that matter, is defined by this fundamental relationship of subordination and domination. Again, this notion of female dominion is not limited to the text. Male to female subordination saturates the courtly romance genre on both sides, appearing both on and off the page.

* * * *

In courtly culture we see men (be them courtly poets, lovers, or fictional characters) transition from the dominant role to the submissive role. We also see women transition from the submissive role to the dominant role. The understanding of courtly love as a masochistic contract is also noteworthy in this instance, as it constitutes a social space with very specific rules. These rules are very much an inversion of the norms of medieval gender relations. In short, because courtly love emulates the crucial elements of the sadomasochistic ritual, it is essential to regard courtly romance literature as part of the cultural history of sadomasochism.

So we return to the text, to that bridge of sharpened steel where pain and pleasure become one:

Love, which led and guided him,
Comforted and healed him at once
And made his suffering a pleasure

As previously stated, there is a masochistic association between love, pain, and pleasure throughout this text. Because the suffering Lancelot endures is facilitated by Guinevere, and the two are bound by the masochistic contract, she is situated as his dominatrix. According to Cohen, this is “the role of the woman of cold pleasure who enjoys the negation of her lover rather than of her self. . .the role of domna/dominatrix whose distant delectation Lancelot’s own suffering is predicated upon.” However, Lancelot’s excursion on the sword bridge is not the only instance in Knight of the Cart where suffering and satisfaction are conflated.

Another precedent of pleasurable pain is set early on in the narrative. As with Lancelot’s experience on the sword ridge, this scene also establishes a direct connection between love and wounding:

Love frequently reopened
The wound it had dealt him;
Yet he never wrapped it
To let it heal or recover,
For he had no desire or thought
To find a doctor or to bandage it,
Unless the wound grew deeper.
But willingly would he seek that certain one

This passage is especially noteworthy, as it illustrates how Guinevere (Lancelot’s “certain one”) is viewed as the disseminator of both pain and remedies. Lancelot does not want to consult a doctor: the only remedy he desires lies with his queen. Yet it is at her behest that Lancelot has received his wounds in the first place. Thus, love is responsible for injuring Lancelot while simultaneously holding the key to his recovery. This discrepancy between hurting and healing plays a big role in sadomasochism, wherein the application of aftercare is often overseen by the same dominant party that subjects the submissive party to physical pain. It is also important to note that Lancelot intentionally leaves his wounds unbandaged; he has no desire for them to heal. In other words, he is content enduring the pain of his injuries. It is as if Lancelot enjoys the pain and would only consult a medical professional if absolutely necessary.

Along with the masochistic association between love, pain, and pleasure, Lancelot’s quest is fraught with elements of sadomasochistic ritualism. According to Peter Tupper, sadomasochistic erotica often appears with an air of spiritual resonance: “Sacher-Masoch [Venus in Furs] explicitly drew connections between. . .desires, Catholicism, and paganism, which give his novel suggestion of a personal religious rite.”  Chrétien’s writing establishes the same connections. For example, as Lancelot pursues the missing queen, “Mundane objects acquire great symbolic value” while he wades deeper and deeper into the sadomasochistic ritual.  One example of this can be seen when Lancelot discovers a piece of Guinevere’s hair. What follows is nothing short of worship:

Never will the eye of man see
Anything so highly honored
As those strands, which he began to adore,
Touching them a hundred thousand times
To his eyes, his mouth,
His forehead, and his cheeks.
He showed his joy in every way
And felt himself most happy and rewarded.
He placed them on his breast near his heart,
Between his chemise and his skin.
He would not trade them for a cart loaded
With emeralds and carbuncles;
Nor did he fear that ulcers
Or any other disease would afflict him;
He had no use for magic potions mixed with pearls,
For drugs to combat pleurisy, for theriaca…
No use for prayers to St. Martin and St. James!
He placed so much faith in these strands of hair
That he had no need of any other aid.

Not only does this passage illustrate Lancelot’s association between mundane objects (strands of hair) and a greater allusory value, but it also elucidates Lancelot’s worship of Guinevere as a quasi-divine figure. The strands of hair are cherished as a relic that eclipses all other remedies (both spiritual and secular). In tandem with this worship, Lancelot seems to take an erotic pleasure in rubbing Guinevere’s hair all over his body. This pleasure plays out in such vivid detail that it resembles a scene of sexual gratification. Guinevere’s hair acts as a stand-in for the queen herself, and when Lancelot comes across these strands, he projects his sexual desires onto them. It is a scene ripe with the potential for titillation, one that foreshadows Lancelot’s subsequent sexual union with the queen.

Romantic Gyneolatry In The Bedroom

Lancelot’s worship of Guinevere is fully realized when the two consummate their physical relationship. The scene plays out as a religious rite turned sexual romp:

He came next to that [bed] of the Queen;

Lancelot bowed and worshiped before her,
For he did not have that much faith in any saint.
The Queen stretched out
Her arms toward him, embraced him,
Hugged him to her breast
And drew him into the bed beside her.

In this passage, Lancelot’s adoration of Guinevere is actualized in religious, albeit sexual, terms. He literally bows before her in worship. In this moment, Lancelot’s submission to Guinevere is at its most overt. The use of the word “worship” is especially noteworthy to this end, as it expresses in literal terms the subordination Lancelot willingly endures for his dominatrix. In this scene, Lancelot’s masochistic desires play out as a religious rite: this is supported by Cohen, who argues that “Lancelot’s reverence [of Guinevere] translates the sexual into the spiritual.” The spiritual resonance of this scene along with the titillation implicit in their sexually charged embrace help cement this work as a piece of sadomasochistic erotica.

This religious connection also thrusts Lancelot into the role of the masochistic martyr. When Lancelot makes his way to Guinevere’s chambers, he receives yet another injury:

Lancelot prepared and readied himself
To loosen the window.
He grasped the bars, strained, and pulled,
Until he bent them all
And was able to free them from their fittings.
But the iron was so sharp
That he cut the end
Of his little finger to the quick
And severed the whole
First joint of the next finger

Once again, this scene suggests a connection between pain and pleasure, as Lancelot receives these injuries as he makes his way to Guinevere’s bed: as he makes his way to sexual gratification. He must enter a world of pain to enter a world of pleasure. For Lancelot, pleasure always entails pain, and vice versa. In this particular instance, however, Lancelot becomes a martyr for love. More specifically, he “suffers and bleeds, his martyrdom for love.” This notion of martyrdom provides yet another connection between love, pain, and pleasure. It also supports the notion that Lancelot’s masochism plays out in spiritual terms.

When it comes to sadomasochistic erotica, it can be said that Chrétien’s Knight of the Cart bears striking similarities to other works in this literary tradition. In Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, for example, the sadomasochistic ritual is “performed with contracts, disguises, whippings, masks, cuckolding, and role play.” Similarly, Lancelot is bound to Guinevere through the masochistic contract, through the rules of courtly love. Also, disguise plays a major role in Lancelot’s quest; he bares the moniker of knight of the cart for a lengthy period, his true name left unknown until Guinevere restores his identity:

she [Guinevere] rushed forward and called to him,
Shouting for all to hear
In a very loud voice: ‘Lancelot !
Turn around and behold
Who is watching you

The connections between Lancelot and the sadomasochistic ritual do not stop here, however. The imagery Chrétien employs also lends itself to the literary tradition of sadomasochistic erotica. The most iconic and enduring among these images is that of a powerful woman holding a whip. This image is not foreign to Knight of the Cart:

There came a girl riding
Across the heath
On a tawny mule,
With her mantle unpinned and hair disheveled.
She had a whip

As previously stated, whips and whippings are very crucial to sadomasochistic ritualism. They are symbolic of the dominatrix’s power over her subordinate masochist. Likewise, this whip-wielding woman demands satisfaction from Lancelot, and like a good masochist, he submits to her wishes. Specifically, she demands the head of an individual Lancelot has just defeated in combat. As Feinstein suggests, Lancelot endures a “struggle as to how to keep both his promise to give the lady the head of the defeated knight and grant the defeated knight mercy, as is his custom.”

In the end, Lancelot submits to the lady’s wishes, and this submission is central to the submission/domination that defines male/female relations in this text.
Cuckolding and role play are also central to Knight of the Cart’s status as a work of sadomasochistic erotica. In one particular instance, a lady puts Lancelot in a situation where he has the potential to be made a cuckold:

Help! Help!
Sir knight – you who are my guest —
If you do not pull this other knight from off me,
I’ll not find anyone to pull him away;
And if you do not help me at once
He will shame me before your eyes!
You are the one to share my bed,
As you have sworn to me!
Will this man forcibly have his will
With me before your eyes?

In this moment, the lady is not in any real danger. She is role playing with her personal guards to create the illusion that she is being assaulted. This illusion places Lancelot in a position where he believes he will be made a cuckold if he does not intervene. The role play and cuckolding may not disseminate from Guinevere, Lancelot’s primary dominatrix, but it is still a widely relevant narrative device that helps situate Chrétien’s writing as sadomasochistic erotica.

Another important thing to consider is the role that public humiliation plays in Lancelot’s quest. Throughout the narrative, the knight endures a thorough social stigmatization. The stigma itself stems from his status as the eponymous knight of the cart. According to Cohen, “The cart is described as a space wholly outside of chivalric identity. To enter its ignoble confines is to become a mere subject of the law rather than its agent.”68 Therefore, Lancelot’s decision to enter the cart is understood as a willing act of self-emasculation that effectively strips him of his social clout and renders him a pariah in the public eye. No longer is he regarded with renown as an executor of the King’s laws; he is regarded as a common criminal. In fact, Lancelot remains symbolically branded throughout a bulk of the narrative and is subject to mass ridicule on several occasions. In one instance, a group of revelers actively avoid him:

Look at that knight, look!
It’s the one who was driven in the cart.
Let no one dare continue
His play while he is among us.

In another instance, he is directly admonished: “The one who was watching him reproached him / Bitterly for having ridden in the cart.” Both cases illustrate the ramifications of Lancelot’s decision to ride in the cart. His quest to rescue Guinevere leaves him marked, and the lasting effect of this mark is ridicule in the public sphere.

Lancelot’s ridicule is essential to understanding him as a masochist. In the world of sadomasochism, the dominant party (the dominatrix, master, etc.) often takes great pleasure in leaving marks on the submissive party (the masochist, slave, etc.). These marks are widely superficial (bruises, hickeys, etc.), but they can also be of symbolic nature. In any case, they are meant to denote the dominant party’s complete and total ownership over the submissive party. Lancelot’s experience with the cart allows Guinevere to leave a lasting, albeit indirect, mark on her subordinate rescuer. To secure her favor and affection, Lancelot must receive this mark willingly and endure every modicum of humiliation that comes with it.

As previously stated, along with pain, humiliation is a condition of the masochistic contract. It may be delivered, overseen, or set in motion by the dominatrix, but it must always entail some degree of shame or emasculation. Similarly, Guinevere subjects Lancelot to public humiliation on several occasions. In one particular instance, she chides him during his engagement with Maleagant: “Ah, Lancelot! What could it be / That makes you act so foolishly?” This question has a profound effect on Lancelot. It leaves him retreating inward, into the realm of introspection. Lancelot’s self-reflection is made evident in the following passage: “Lancelot was most ashamed / And vexed and hated himself.” Even after he endures the pain and humiliation of his quest, successfully rescuing Guinevere from her imprisonment, she chastises him.

When Lancelot is victorious in his battle against Maleagant, Guinevere denies any and all gratitude towards him. She publicly and intentionally embarrasses him at the very moment when he believes his suffering is at an end: “to pain and embarrass him further / She refused to answer him a single word / And passed into another room instead.” This process of denying satisfaction is another crucial element of sadomasochism. It involves the dominatrix withholding pleasure from her submissive partner until she believes they have suffered to an appropriate degree or for an appropriate amount of time. This brings us to the subject of titillation.

To assess how titillation functions within Chrétien’s larger poetic design, one must take a closer look at the imagery of Knight of the Cart. Not only do we find images of dominatrices with whips, but we also find images of cuckoldry and sexual union. Let us return to that moment where Guinevere embraces Lancelot, and accepts him as her lover:

The Queen stretched out
Her arms toward him, embraced him,
Hugged him to her breast
And drew him into the bed beside her.

This is a viscerally sensual moment for Guinevere and Lancelot, and Chrétien spares no linguistic expense in playing up the provocative nature of his subject matter. The titillation here is multifaceted: Not only does Guinevere press her breast against Lancelot, but she is also the one to initiate the movement from one social space to another. The contextual parameters of Guinevere’s bed constitute a sexual space, and when she brings Lancelot into this space, their status as lovers is solidified. As such, the imagery of Guinevere drawing Lancelot into bed with her could be construed as sexually stimulating because of the potential sexual energy implicit in the act. It is also erotic because of the power Guinevere holds over Lancelot. She is in control, and when she pulls Lancelot into bed with her there is an anticipation that she will retain this control throughout the sexual engagement.

[ Above passages from How Venus Got Her Furs: Courtly Romance as Sadomasochistic Erotica ]

* * * *

Lancelot’s Gyneolatry 

The submission which Lancelot shows in his actions is accompanied, on the subjective side, by a feeling that deliberately apes religious devotion. Although his love is by no means supersensual and is indeed carnally rewarded in this very poem, he is represented as treating Guinevere with saintly, if not divine, honours. When he comes before the bed where she lies he kneels and adores her : as Chretien explicitly tells us, there is no corseynt in whom he has greater faith. When he leaves her chamber he makes a genuflexion as if he were before a shrine.

The irreligion of the religion of love could hardly go further. Yet Chretien—whether he is completely unconscious of the paradox, or whether he wishes, clumsily enough, to make some amends for these revolting passages—represents his Lancelot as a pious man and goes out of his way to show him dismounting when he passes a church, and entering to make his prayer; by which, according to Chretien, he proves both his courtesy and wisdom.

[From C.S. Lewis – Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition]

* * * *

Romantic gynocentrism and the reviling wife: Reflections on last week’s conversation with David Edgington

By Paul Elam

Greetings, and welcome back to the 425 podcast, where the only place we kneel is before the cross. If you recall, last week I interviewed Dr. David Edgington about his book, The Abusive Wife. It was a fantastic discussion of which I was honored to be a part. That said, I’d like to do a bit of dissection on our interview, as it is germane to what I believe is the most important discussion among Christian men since the Reformation, and likely before that as well.

While there was much that David and I agreed on, there were a few points of contention that I want to focus on in this talk, but before I do I want to make clear that I hold the good pastor in high regard. I fully expect to meet him in heaven some day. Whatever differences we have, they do not diminish my respect for what he’s done, and the significance of his voice in this badly needed discussion.

In writing The Abusive Wife, David challenged the modern narrative about men and women, and in doing so he didn’t hold back criticism of the modern church and the egregious bias against men so common to modern clergy. He spoke truth to power, challenging the church to cast aside its blind, often hostile prejudice against men, and its utter refusal to acknowledge and confront evil behavior in women. In doing this, he clearly emulated Christ, challenging religious authorities to recognize and turn away from their hypocrisy and to instead honor God’s word as it is written.

With that in mind, I offer this talk to David as a loving invitation to explore this important subject with me more in the future, and an opportunity to challenge any faulty conclusions I might make in this review of our discussion. I write this now, keenly aware that he is not here to immediately rebut anything I’m saying. I leave that door wide open for him to do so, at any time of his choosing.

A short synopsis of our talk confirms that we both see the manifestation of the problem with the church in the same light. We both see the church making men accountable for their own sin, and assigning them blame for the sin of their wives. That is, when the church even recognizes the sin of the wife. Often, usually, it doesn’t. And has no need to since the man will held at fault either way. The church seems to recognize that a married man and wife are one flesh, but somehow forgets that they are still two souls, responsible as individuals to God for their sins.

We both recognize the problem of reviling wives who spread threat narratives and other false accusations about the husband; acts of relational aggression so common to modern women. We also both recognize the reviling wives who seek to turn children away from their earthly fathers, alienating them at the children’s emotional expense as a way to wage war within the marriage. It’s a problem that escalates during the divorce, which the church often encourages women to file in defiance of God’s word. And finally, we both recognize the deeply entrenched, seemingly intractable resistance to addressing any of these problems, both in the church and the rest of society at large.

Where we begin to differ on all of this is on the problem’s etiology. David attributes the blindly destructive tolerance of women’s sin to feminism’s influence in the pulpit and pews. And to be sure, there is plenty of evidence backing that idea. Feminism is a widely practiced ideology, even by those who claim not to be feminists, and it permeates nearly every aspect of modern human existence, especially in the west. It casts women as an oppressed class, perpetual victims of an imagined form of overbearing patriarchy that doesn’t exist and actually never did. But that particular die has nonetheless been cast. Women have warmed up en masse to the victim role. Indeed they’ve wallowed in it, and men have lined up across the western world to validate their ideas and promise to make things better.

So, the summarized view of David here, as I understand it, is that people have been corrupted by feminist ideology that requires them to view women, not as default sinners, but as default, innocent victims with little to no personal agency. This bad script kicks in full force whenever there is marital conflict when the man, who is by the same corrupted script, presumed sinful and blameworthy. Now, right-minded people, in particular Christians, abhor mistreatment and seek to right wrongs- to fight sin. Christians of both sexes see the protection of women as a Godly mandate. This setup provides a perfect breeding ground for viciously misemployed chivalry. Woman in peril? Not in my church! Come, brothers, gather your torches and pitchforks!

Ostensibly, it all makes perfect sense, even though it often results in horrendous injustice and the complete destruction of families. Feminism, as a destructive force on the family, is just doing to Church families exactly what it’s done to everyone else’s family for the past 60 years. And to the Occam’s Razor guy in me, that explanation checks a lot of boxes.

But, I respectfully submit that there’s more to this picture. During our discussion, David brought up the Song of Songs, suggesting that this, which he referred to in rather passionate romantic terms, serves as both the model of love expressed in our relationship with our wives, and with our lord. Here’s that bit from the interview.

Let’s stop there for a moment and take a deeper look at this. I think part of the problem here is in the definition of the terms. David referred to the Song of Songs, or the Song of Solomon, as descriptive of romantic love. But here’s part of the problem. Romance, as it is known and practiced today, has nothing to do with anything scriptural or spiritual. Zero, zip, nada. If you do a word search for any biblical reference to “romance,” you’ll do so in vain. That word, nor its equivalent, ever appears anywhere in scripture.

And while the Song of Songs sounds romantic, indeed it appears to gush romance in parts, it more accurately resembles Eros, the timeless motive of human sexual longing which, at its more pathological extreme, results in infatuated obsession. In philosophical sense, particularly in the works of Plato, “Eros” is used to describe the passionate, often irrational desire that drives human behavior, especially in the context of sexually infatuated attraction and longing. That reality no doubt played a significant role in the ancient controversy among Jewish and Christian bible scholars about its inclusion in the Septuagint. And while the Song of Songs is firmly established as part of the biblical canon in both Jewish and Christian traditions, there continues to be discussion and debate about its interpretation and the reasons for its inclusion.

I will revisit that in just a bit, but right now the important point to make is that romance isn’t just an emotional or sexual state, or a combination of the two. It’s not just two lovers enraptured with each other. Nor is it the intimacy produced by two becoming one flesh. Nor is it anything, I assert, that springs forth naturally from the obedient Christian heart. It is certainly, and without question, not something prescribed by scripture. There is no biblical instruction for marriages to be based in romance, especially as at the time of its authorship, the idea of a marriage being based on romance, or even Eros, would have been considered insane and incredibly irregular. Most marriages were arranged by the families of the bride and groom. Parents and other family members played a significant role in choosing a suitable partner, focusing on factors such as social status, economic benefits, and family alliances. There is no evidence that being hot is part of the equation. Solomon didn’t marry 700 wives and have 300 concubines for Romantic reasons. He did it for political expedience and to expand his sphere of influence. As for the average person, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that a romantically based marriage was even thinkable.

Romance, which for some reason many people are convinced has always been the standard for marriage, has nothing to do with the kind of love that can only be gained from extensive shared life experience. Romance is actually just the codification of infatuation and sexual passion into an ethos that serves women, and only women, at the expense of men. Like it or not, that also means it’s at the expense of the family. That’s hardly a way to promote the order and structure for marriage as is clearly prescribed in the Word of God.

Romance requires men to defend women’s honor, even when they don’t have any. Romance requires men to lower themselves to appease women, and to submit to their desires, even when they’re behaving like tyrants. Romance is the poorest metaphor I can think of for a relationship with God.

Allow me, if you will, to bore you with some history. The word “Romance” itself, in its various forms, began to appear in the vernacular languages of Europe around the 12th century, some 2,000 years after the Song of Songs was written. It initially referred to stories and poems, which often involved tales of gallantry, adventure, and courtly, or what we now call romantic, love.

As I have alluded to in other talks, romantic love owes its roots to medieval Europe and was loosely fashioned after the military code of chivalry that had feudal tenants and vassals kneeling before and pledging fealty to a royal lord. I say loosely because in the old feudal system, there were considerations given for pledging blood and sword to royalty. Even Kings owed something in return for the loyalty given them. The new, romantic narrative of love fully pedestalized women, placing them above man in worth and standing, and was peddled to the masses by the powerful and influential courts of Europe. Like feminism, it regarded women as untouchable and created a one-way power dynamic that we see acted out across the western world to this day. This irrational, romantic model of love eventually commandeered our collective consciousness, giving birth to a system in which women weren’t just to be courted, they were to be wined and dined, pampered, indulged, fawned over and deferred to at every turn because doing otherwise is considered both unloving and unmanly. If you visit an average church, you might just hear it called unchristian.

Now, even though this model for love was eventually embraced by the western world, it’s only been in the past 150 years that people began to marry based on it. In the scheme of things, it’s a very new, experimental way to approach marriage. And by the looks of things, the experiment is not working out that well. Once social and legal pressures were taken off of romantic marriages to stay intact, those marriages began to dissolve like sugar in hot water. To quote Denis de Rougemont’s 1939 classic on romantic love:

“Romance feeds on obstacles, short excitations, and partings; marriage, on the contrary, is made up of wont, daily propinquity, and growing accustomed to one another. Romance calls for ‘the faraway love’ of the troubadours; while marriage calls for love of ‘one’s neighbor’. Where, then, a couple have married in obedience to a romance, it is natural that the first time a conflict of temperament or of taste becomes manifest, the parties should each ask themselves: “Why did I marry?’ And it is no less natural that, obsessed by the universal propaganda in favor of romance, each should seize the first occasion to fall in love with somebody else. And thereupon it is perfectly logical to decide to divorce, so as to obtain from the new love, which demands a fresh marriage, a new promise of happiness—three words, ‘marriage’, ‘love’, ‘happiness’, being synonyms. Thus, remedying boredom with a passing fever, ‘he for the second time, she for the fourth’, American men and women go in quest of ‘adjustment’. They do not seek it, however, in the old situation, the one guaranteed—‘for better, for worse’—by a vow. They seek it, on the contrary, in a fresh ‘experience’ regarded as such, and affected from the start by the same potentialities of failure as those which preceded it.”  [Love in The Western World]

To recap; in the Song of Solomon we read of a reciprocal desire, a love that flows equally between the lovers, which by its nature differs from the uneven display of romantic gynocentrism. As described by C.S. Lewis, romantic love positions the male lover as abject before a woman who actively adopts the role of his pedestalized superior:

“Obedience to his lady’s lightest wish, however whimsical, and silent acquiescence in her rebukes, however unjust, are the only virtues he dares to claim. Here is a service of love closely modeled on the service which a feudal vassal owes to his lord. The lover is the lady’s ‘man’. He addresses her as ‘midons,’ which etymologically represents not ‘my lady’ but ‘my lord’.”   [The Allegory of Love]

Unlike the mutual display of love in Songs, Lewis describes the attitude of romantic love as ‘a feudalisation of love,’ one which necessitates a man lower himself on proverbial and literal bent knees in permanent obedience to an elevated women. Suffice to say it’s an error to attribute romantic love, at least as described by Lewis and other authorities, to the love portrayed in Song of Songs – or indeed to love as described anywhere in the Bible. The conflation of these different kinds of love can only result in a chimera – a creature cobbled together from parts of different animals to create a monstrous hybrid. I would encourage David and others to dig deep into these points of contention and, as always, I welcome discussion, feedback, or dissent in the comments below.

Despite this glaring inequity in power, the romantic ethos, valuing women over men, contorting and exploiting the human instinct to protect and provide for women, continues. And it continues to be conflated with the kind of love that should guide a marriage. That gives us precisely what David and I discussed in our interview about his book. The men in church whose default setting is to persecute any man with a woman’s finger pointed at him aren’t Christians acting to combat sin and bring their fellows into alignment with God’s will. They are medieval knights in shining armor, defending the innocent and fair maiden from harm. It’s a kind of twisted harem seeking by thirsty boys longing for women’s admiration and approval. That has nothing to do with feminism, and everything to do with romantic gynocentrism.

Finally, David and I touched on the topic of marriage itself, and more specifically the men who look at the modern marital landscape and decided to opt out. I pointed out Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, where he advised single men and widows to remain unmarried.

Here’s a clip of that interaction:

OK, let’s dig into this a little bit, as well. If I am reading David correctly here, he’s insinuating, or at least speculating that 1st Corinthians 7 could possibly be the result of Paul’s personal experience with marriage; that perhaps in Paul’s life previous to becoming a Christian he was married to a reviling wife, or that there was some other marital experience that led him to reject marriage and suggest that rejection all unmarried and widowed men.

But here’s the problem with that. It totally discounts the fact that Paul’s words are in fact not Paul’s words. They are the words of our Lord and Savior, expressed through Paul’s divinely inspired writing. Asserting otherwise reduces everything he said to some kind of divorce bitterness, or perhaps a history of being abused by a wife. I’m sorry, but if we accept that explanation it requires us to deny and reject God’s word, and it would call into question every line of scripture from the holy bible.

From 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (NASB)

I understand the difficulty in coming to terms with this. The Apostle Paul, by every indication, would clearly be called red pill, and indeed MGTOW in modern times. A dedicated bachelor with no interest whatsoever in the distraction of marrying a woman. As he said in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34,

“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— and his interests are divided.”

Dear listener, that is either the wisdom of the Lord speaking to you through His chosen apostle, or it’s just the resentful musings of a man soured on marriage due to his personal experience. It can’t be both. And we don’t get to choose which version we like based on the argument we’re making at the time.

Now, moving on, I return to the beginning of this conversation, of a church that has lost its way, ignoring God’s word in order to side with women, who are now perceived universally as the victims of men. It might be easy to conclude that we’re discussing two different topics, one being what marriage ought to be based upon, and the other whether men should engage in marriage to begin with. I think the two are actually intimately and inextricably bound together.

First, and this is something neither David nor I addressed in our discussion, the church abdicated its responsibility for marriage quite some time ago. Any moral authority the church had over the marriage covenant died in 1639, when the first license for marriage was issued by the state of Massachusetts and honored by the church. The church has been compliant ever since, injecting the state into the covenant meant to be strictly between a man, a woman and God. By its complicity, the church removed God from authority over marriage and replaced Him with the state. It’s worth mentioning that here, but rather than sidetracking any further now, I will be addressing it in a podcast at some point in the future.

For now, if we are going to address the problem of the reviling wife, we cannot do so in any earnestness without acknowledging the bad script that got us here. All of it.

We are now living with congregations full of entitled, demanding women who are better described as Disney style princesses than adult women ready to take on the awesome responsibilities of a husband and children. Few to none would qualify as a Proverbs 31 wife. Sure, feminism has acted like an accelerant, but only on a fire that was already long burning. To assume that feminism is the singular underlying evil demonstrates the myopic vision that a romanticized view of women engenders and demands.

The phenomenon of romantic gynocentrism has rendered the average women unfit for matrimony. It matters not if she’s a pink-haired termagant in an Antifa T-shirt, or if she’s a churchgoing, demure and soft spoken schoolmarm longing for the days when men were men. Both women pine for the power and authority over men that romantic gynocentrism affords them. These are two kinds of women who typically don’t like each other, but it’s not because they’re different. Under the difference in dress and social manner, they are one in the same. They are just fighting over who will benefit from the mandated chivalry of men.

These two kinds of women, regardless of their apparent differences, are on the same team when accusations have been levied against a man. They both rally men to inflict their will on the victim.

The deleterious effect isn’t limited to women. The effect of romantic mandates, as so aptly described by Lewis and De Rougemont, has transformed men into weak-willed sycophants, thinly disguised houseboys who settle for building a façade of leadership and male strength, asserting their Godly authority as long as their alleged better half isn’t listening. And to their disgrace, they can be reliably counted upon to add muscle to the witch hunts that the women instigate. They are the chief enablers of the reviling wife.

Of course, accepting all this puts one at a heck of a crossroads. What do you imagine would happen to a church, should it echo the sentiments of Lewis and De Rougemont and challenge Christians to abandon their pursuit of such a distorted and unchristian version of love? What would happen to any church that urged women off of their pedestals and into the real world? …………….. That’s right. Total collapse. Women would leave Sunday service fast enough to go get breakfast. And the men, true to the romantic ethos, would just be a half-step behind them.

And that, my brothers, is where we are at. Romantic gynocentrism has a stranglehold on the western church because it has a stranglehold on the western world. And until men are willing to seek God’s approval more than women’s, it will remain as such.

As for the Song of Songs; its intended message and the reason for its inclusion in the Septuagint, I am sure speculation and debate will continue about that long past my lifetime. For now, in the big picture view, I still see a man of purported great wisdom, who like his father before him, fell from grace because of his relationship with women. I see that book as much more warning than prescription.

Let’s turn for a moment to Proverbs 20:5, which states: “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Let’s consider that “The purpose in a man’s heart,” refers to the inner world of a man. His yearnings, goals, intentions, ambitions, and dreams. Now, it says, “is like deep water,” meaning that it is hidden from plain view, from others, and often from the man himself. The totality of his purpose and the core of his beliefs are concealed in the deep, often inaccessible well of a man’s heart.

And now, this critical ending declaration, “But a man of understanding will draw it out.” A man of wisdom, a man with insight, a man who has the ability to search for and find that which is hidden, even his own thoughts and intentions. This is a man with the requisite skill and integrity to plumb the depths of his inner most being and bring light to the truth. And this, I argue, is what is missing from the discussion about romantic gynocentrism. It is a superficial thing, unsuited to examination or testing. Its dictates cannot and will not bear scrutiny. And it sits out of reach, wreaking havoc as almost all men live in willful ignorance of its existence. The first rule of romantic gynocentrism is that you don’t talk about romantic gynocentrism. It’s an unhelpful way to begin a discussion.

And that brings me to the really important part of this dialogue. During my talk with David I asked him what we should do about the problems we both agreed we were plaguing the church and plaguing the relationship between men and women. What do we tell young men about all this? How do we actually start to fix the problem? David is working on a sequel to The Abusive Wife where he intends to expound upon answers to that very question. I look forward to that when the time comes.

Meanwhile, I’d like to offer my pitch for where we start to set things right, beginning with the namesake of this podcast, Ephesians 4:25. We first must quit lying to young men. We need to stop indoctrinating them into a Hollywood fantasy that turns out to be a rigged game against them. Having challenged and overcome our own misguided thinking, we can make sure they at least see a more sane, scripturally sound way to view love. We need to counsel them about what the bible actually tells us about the sexes, the folly of pedestalizing women, and the nonbiblical nature of romantic gynocentrism. We should advise every young man in every church in the west that if he is ever accused of any kind of wrong doing by a woman, that his church family, more likely than not, will turn on him like a quiet, smiling lynch mob. He’ll be thrown directly under the bus with assurances he’ll be prayed for. Tell every young man that if he ends up in a divorce, he will get crushed by a court system designed to ruin him. And finally, importantly, that the Lord has explicitly provided a path away from all of this insanity in 1st Corinthians 7.

There’s no other way to say it, gentlemen. If we want to look past the problem of the reviling wife and start addressing why the church enables all her drama and abuse, we need to quit living in the fairy tale of romantic gynocentrism, return to scripture and rediscover our willingness to speak the truth.

If you know young Christian men, please send them the discussion David and I had, as well as this podcast. Send it to clergy as well, to elders and deacons, but don’t expect much. Most of them would rather eat glass than upset midon.

All of this makes me so very thankful for you, my brothers in Christ. We’re among a small number of people who can draw it out; whose hearts yearn for the light. And I truly believe we are the hope for the Christian church. It may take a hundred years, but it’s on all of us to get the ball rolling.

Till then, I wish you all the best. Praise the name of Jesus Christ.

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You can listen to the video version of this article here.

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