‘Shield of Parade’ representing chivalrous love (15th century)

The ‘Shield of Parade‘ is a 15th century artifact depicting a scene of chivalric love, which is currently housed in the medieval gallery of the British Museum.

The shield’s front panel portrays a youthful knight clad in battle armor. Genuflecting in a gesture of servitude toward the woman he loves, he grips a pole axe in one hand, while a sheathed sword rests at his side. Nearby, his helmet and gauntlets lie discarded. The figure of Death emerges from behind and gazes malevolently while reaching out to take the knight.

On the left side of the shield a noble lady stands projecting an air of arrogance. She is adorned in opulent attire, her gilded finery catching the light. A long hennin hat graces her head, its trailing silk veil draped own her back. Curiously, her facial expression conveys detachment, making her seem somewhat cold or dismissive to the dramatic scene unfolding before her.

A scroll of text floats above the knights head with the words “vous ou la mort,” which translates as “you or death” in French. These words reveal that this scene is one of  chivalric love, in which the knight would happily die proving his love than to dishonor his lady and lose her love by his poor performances in battle.

Feature image: British Museum ©

Madame Bovary Syndrome (English Translation from the original French paper – 1892)

Madame Bovary Syndrome (bovarysme/bovarism) represents women’s delusional fixation on the ideals of romantic love.  The term was coined by French writer J. de Gaultier in his 1892 essay Le bovarysme, la psychologie dans l’oeuvre de Flaubert, with the following two excerpts translated (and paraphrased) from the original French essay. – PW

Mr. Montégut noted that the appearance of Madame Bovary “was a reaction to certain long-sovereign influences.” She stood in all reality for the false ideal made fashionable by the school of romantic love and for the dangerous sentimentality that has as its counterpart the male figure of Don Quixote who was a consequence for the too long-prolonged chivalric mania of Spain.

Mr. Montégut continues; “As Cervantes dealt the death blow to the chivalrous mania with the very weapons of chivalry, it is with the very same processes that G. Flaubert has destroyed the false ideal promoted by the romantic love school; it is with the very resources of the romantic imagination that he has painted the vices and errors of that imagination in the figure of Madame Bovary.”  [Page 11]

* * *

If all of Flaubert’s characters reveal in their feelings and in their ideas the morbid principle that governs them, there is one who manifests a more complete, singularly evil set of symptoms: Madame Bovary. Equipped with a strongly accentuated temperament and an active will, she creates within herself, in contradiction to her real nature, a being of imagination, made of the substance of her reveries and  enthusiasms.

In complete good faith she incarnates in this ghost, and lends it passions and desires, putting in it all the tension of her nerves, and putting all the energy of her soul at its service to satisfy them.  Her true instincts however, always ready to emerge, protest with their violence against this usurpation and try to reconquer the place that has been taken from them; she strives to stifle their calls, and with incredible determination she persists in turning her eyes away from herself, seeing herself only under the appearance of her dream.

Her entire life is torn apart by this poignant struggle between her little-known real self and the chimerical monster she has installed in her brain. Thus torn between these two equal powers, abused by the false romantic ideal that she has formed of herself, the poor woman becomes this hybrid being dedicated to the necessary lie and leading ultimately to suicide, which alone puts an end to her terrible duality.

By the obstinate blindness by which she carried out her incessant evolution, and by her tragic end, she personified in herself this original disease of the human soul for which her name can serve as a label: we can understand that “Bovarysm” is the faculty given to man to conceive of himself otherwise than he is, without taking into account the various motives and external circumstances which determine this intimate transformation in each individual. [Page 26]


SEE ALSO: What is Madame Bovary Syndrome?

William Of Aquitaine: The First Simp

By Paul Elam

If you’ve been an attentive follower of my work, particularly the collaborative efforts with Peter Wright, you know that we’ve explored the historical roots of gynocentrism and, just as importantly, the origins of the romantic model of pair bonding and marriage. We’ve written about Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter Marie, who instituted a sex-relation model based on men idealizing women and being shamed into serving them. That model, once referred to as courtly love, was spread with the help of commissioned troubadours, reinforced with their love stories, romantic songs, and poetry. And as we can plainly see in modern times, electronic media continues that tradition in full force on a worldwide platform. Now operating under the heading of romantic love, we can describe it with a more modern and accurate turn of phrase; Romantic love is the practice of males simping to narcissistic women.

Eleanor and her daughter were the first to popularize this practice, however the original impetus came from Eleanor’s grandfather William IX Duke of Aquitaine (l. 1071-1127 CE), who is considered the world’s first troubadour – a man who wrote effusive, gushing poetry, expressing love for women in worshipful stanzas. He took delight in performing music and song, serenading women, and feeding their narcissistic hunger. William’s gynocentrism was so exaggerated, in fact, that he had a picture of his naked mistress painted on his shield, claiming that he was glad to bear her image in battle as she had borne him in bed.

Dangereuse Bouchard Dangerosa Shield mistress William IX

So, it is clear. William IX was patient zero in the romantic chivalry virus that has since infected the world. We find no historical example of this kind unbridled gynocentrism in a man of prominence that predates him. All of this is understood in academic circles, but little known outside of them. William M. Reddy, Professor of History and Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, describes William’s role in the tradition as follows:

The genre of the troubadour song, and with it the basic elements of courtly love, seems to have arisen full-blown in his mind, ready to be imitated and elaborated by his many enthusiastic followers.

The lyrics of ten songs by William IX have survived. They form a curious series. Four are recognizably troubadour love songs, offering, in Reto Bezzola’s words, “an entirely new conception of woman and of love, new not only for the count of Poitou, but for the entire world.”1

While understandable that women would have embraced such a model in order to obtain material and narcissistic gratifications from men, it’s more perplexing that a powerful man did so when he could have had any woman at any time, by simply wiggling his finger. How strange that his chosen path instilled a brand of pathetic sycophancy in contemporary and future men, effectively rendering him a traitor to his own sex.

And indeed, do we not see this on full display in modern times? How many powerful men with high sexual market value have you seen engaging in sappy public fawning over women, gratuitously feeding their egos as a kind of twisted performance art?

And how many men lend silent complicity to this game, following William’s traitorous ways? Recently, there was a televised debate of Republican presidential hopefuls. Nikki Haley, the only woman on the stage alongside six very powerful, influential men, interrupted the entire field at one point and blurted out, “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” The remark, a reference to her book of the same title, was met with applause by the audience and sheepish silence by the allegedly powerful men on stage. Now, even the most cursory look at modern civilization, where literally nothing is built or maintained by women, informs you that what Haley said is complete bullshit. That, however, didn’t motivate a single man onstage to say a single corrective word. It was a telling microcosm of what society has become under the romantic model, and proof that William the Simp’s infectious ideas took root and flourished.

The court of William IX at Poitou, considered the center of culture at that time, was filled with song, a culture of courtly love, and affluence. Aquitaine was the richest duchy in the south of France.2 Eleanor was raised in this court where she would watch the spectacle of courtly love and its requisite worship of women play out every day of her childhood. Apparently, Eleanor warmed very quickly to the sight of obsequious men shamelessly competing for the approval of women. She would later elaborate and bring that vision to the entire world when she became Queen of both France and England.

Has there ever a greater traitor to the collective male sex than William? He’s brought simping to the world and set the bar high on its practice.  His little fetish has now spread to become more popular than the gospel of Jesus. More romantic love novels are sold each year than are copies of the Bible. In fact, just one Texan author alone sold 3 million more copies of her romance novel in 2022 than copies of the Bible in the same year. Let that sink in.3

William’s story is instructive for how badly men can screw up, and that brings us to similar behaviours we see in men in the here and now. Should we really blame women for the rise of romantic chivalry? Is female narcissism the real culprit? Perhaps feminism? Certainly there’s cause to point at those things, though diligence compels us to also look askance at men who swallowed the romantic narrative with little to no resistance. Fathers, husbands, male lovers all share in the blame.

And of course, blaming the source only gets you so far. Ultimately, we settled on the idea that William the Simp is the red pill man’s greatest object lesson. In a way he’s our best friend. The guy you learn what not to do from. After all, to William he was striking out into new territory: women had never been so elevated, so overblown before in any of recorded history. He was a powerful guy with a masochistic submission fantasy. Women jumped on that and rode it like a sybian sex aid.

But that’s the good part. If you’re a red pill guy here for your dose of content, you are also striking out into new territory. You’re doing something unheard of to most men until recent times. The path you’ve chosen won’t please women, and it won’t sell near as well as kissing women’s asses, but there’s a major silver lining to that. The past thousand years of simping stops with you.



[1] The Making of Romantic Love: Longing and Sexuality in Europe, South Asia, and Japan, 900-1200 CE.
[2] Eleanor of Aquitaine, in New World Encyclopedia.
[3] Author Colleen Hoover went from tending cows to writing bestsellers.



Courtly and Romantic love – by Lester F. Ward (1903)

Below is a summary of the rise of romantic love by Lester F Ward, an American botanist, paleontologist and sociologist. For the full text version of Ward’s commentary on romantic love see here. – PW

* * *

The appearance in the most advanced races of a derivative form of natural love is known as romantic love. It is a comparatively modern product, and is not universal among highly assimilated races. In fact, I am convinced that it is practically confined to what is generally understood as the Aryan race, or, at most, to the so-called Europeans, whether actually in Europe or whether in Australia, America, India, or any other part of the globe. Further, it did not appear in a perceptible form even in that ethnic stock until some time during the Middle Ages. Although I have held this opinion much longer, I first expressed it in 1896.1 It is curious that since that time two books have appeared devoted in whole or in part to sustaining this view..2 There is certainly no sign of the derivative sentiment among savages. Monteiro, speaking of the polygamous peoples of Western Africa, says: –

The negro knows not love, affection, or jealousy. … In all the long years I have been in Africa I have never seen a negro manifest the least tenderness for or to a negress. … I have never seen a negro put his arm round a woman’s waist, or give or receive any caress whatever that would indicate the slightest loving regard or affection on either side. They have no words or expressions in their language indicative of affection or love.3

Lichtenstein4 says of the Koossas: “To the feeling of a chaste tender passion, founded on reciprocal esteem, and an union of heart and sentiment, they seem entire strangers.” Eyre reports the same general condition of things among the natives of Australia,5 and it would not be difficult to find statements to the same effect relative to savage and barbaric races in all countries where they have been made the subject of critical study. Certainly all the romances of such races that have been written do but reflect the sentiments of their writers, and are worthless from any scientific point of view. This is probably also the case for stories whose plot is laid in Asia, even in India, and the Chinese and Japanese seem to have none of the romantic ideas of the West; otherwise female virtue would not be a relative term, as it is in those countries. This much will probably be admitted by all who understand what I mean by romantic love.

The point of dispute is therefore apparently narrowed down to the question whether the Ancient Greeks and Romans had developed this sentiment. I would maintain the negative of this question. If I have read my Homer, Æschylus, Virgil, and Horace to any purpose they do not reveal the existence in Ancient Greece and Rome of the sentiment of romantic love. If it be said that they contain the rudiments of it and foreshadow it to some extent I shall not dispute this, but natural love everywhere does this, and that is therefore not the question.

The only place where one finds clear indications of the sentiment is in such books as “Quo Vadis,” which cannot free themselves from such anachronisms. I would therefore adhere to the statement made in 1896, when I said, “Brilliant as were the intellectual achievements of the Greeks and Romans, and refined as were many of their moral and esthetic perceptions, nothing in their literature conclusively proves that love with them meant more than the natural demands of the sexual instinct under the control of strong character and high intelligence. The romantic element of man’s nature had not yet been developed.”

The Greeks, of course, distinguished several kinds of love, and by different words (erosagapephilia), but only one of these is sexual at all. For eros they often used ‘Aphrodite’. They also expressed certain degrees and qualities in these by adjectives, e.g., pandemic. Some modern writers place the adjective heavenly over against pandemic, as indicating that they recognized a sublimated, heavenly, or spiritual form of sexual love, but I have not found this in classic Greek. Neither do I find any other to the Latin Venus vulgivaga. But whether such softened expressions are really to be found in classic Greek and Latin authors or not, the fact that they are so rare sufficiently indicates that the conceptions they convey could not have been current in the Greek and Roman mind, and must have been confined to a few rare natures.

Romantic love is therefore not only confined to the historic races, those mentioned in Chapter III as representing the accumulated energies of all the past and the highest human achievement, but it is limited to the last nine or ten centuries of the history of those races. It bean to manifest itself some time in the eleventh century of the Christian era, and was closely connected with the origin of chivalry under the feudal system. Guizot has given us perhaps the best presentation of that institution,6 and from this it is easy to see how the conditions favored its development.

In the first place the constant and prolonged absenteeism of the lords and knights, often with most of their retainers, from the castle left the women practically in charge of affairs and conferred upon them a power and dignity never before possessed. In the second place the separation of most of the men for such long periods, coupled with the sense of honor that their knighthood and military career gave rise to, caused them to assume the rôle of applicants for the favor of the women, which they could not always immediately attain as when women were forcibly seized by any one that chanced to find them.

These conditions produced a mutual sense on the part of both sexes of the need of each other, coupled with prolonged deprivation on the part of both of that satisfaction. The men, thus seeking the women, naturally became chivalrous toward them. The solitary life of women of high rank made them somewhat a prey to the lusts of men of low degree, and the knights assumed the rôle of protecting them from all dangers. Moral and Christian sentiments also played a part, and we find among the provisions of the oath that every chevalier must make the following solemn vows: –

To maintain the just rights of the weak, as of widows, orphans, and young women. If called upon to conduct a lady or a girl to any place, to wait upon her, to protect her, and to save her from all danger and every offense, or perish in the attempt. Never to do violence to ladies or young women, even though won by their arms, without their will and consent.

Such an oath, made a universal point of honor, any breach of which would be an everlasting disgrace, and be punished severely by the order of knighthood to which they belonged, could not fail to produce a powerful civilizing effect upon the semi-barbaric men of that age. The whole proceeding must have also given to women a far greater independence and higher standing than they had ever before enjoyed since the days of gynæcocracy in the protosocial stage.

Out of this condition of things there arose a special class of poets who wrote lyrics wholly different from the erotic songs of antiquity that go by that name. These poets were called troubadours, and some of them wandered from place to place singing the praises of the great court ladies, and still further inflaming the new passion, which was relatively pure, and contented itself with an association of men with women while conserving the honor and virtue of the latter. This, of course, was a passing phase and somewhat local, being mainly confined to southern France and parts of Spain.

It degenerated, as did the whole institution of chivalry, and by the end of the thirteenth century nothing was left of either but the ridiculous nonsense that Cervantes found surviving into his time, and which he so happily portrayed in Don Quixote. But chivalry had left its impress upon the world, and while Condorcet and Comte exaggerated certain aspects of it, no one has pointed out its greatest service in grafting romantic love upon natural love, which until then had been supreme.

But it would be easy to ascribe too great a rôle, even here, to chivalry. The truth is not all told until chivalry is understood as an effect as well as a cause. Whatever may be said of the Middle Ages as tending to suppress the natural flow of intellectual activities, there can be no doubt that they were highly favorable to the development of emotional life. The intense religious fervor that burned in its cloisters for so many centuries served to create centers of feeling, and to increase the sensibility of all those nerve plexuses that constitute the true organs of emotion.

Whatever may be the physiological changes necessary to intensify the inner feelings, corresponding to the multiplication and diversification of the neurons of the brain by which the intellect is perfected, such changes went on, until the men and women of the eleventh century found themselves endowed with far higher moral organizations than those of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They had been all this time using their emotional faculties as they never had been used before, and the Lamarckian principle of increase through use is as true of those faculties as it is of external muscles and organs. It is true of the brain, too, and when educationalists wake up to this truth the only solid basis for scientific education will have been discovered. But without a preparation in this latent growth of the emotional faculties neither chivalry nor romantic love could have made its appearance.

The crusades, contemporary to a great extent with chivalry, and due also to the surplus emotion, taking here a religious course, became also a joint cause in the development not only of romantic love but also of many other lofty attributes, both ethical and intellectual. They failed to save the holy city, but they gained a far greater victory than that would have been in rationalizing, moralizing, and socializing Europe. Any one who thinks they were a failure has only to read Guizot’s masterly summing up of their influence.7

Romantic love was due primarily to the greater equality and independence of woman. She reacquired to some extent her long-lost power of selection, and began to apply to men certain tests of fitness. Romantic love therefore marks the first step toward the resumption by woman of her natural scepter which she yielded to the superior physical force of man at the beginning of the androcratic period. It involves a certain degree of female selection or gyneclexis, and no longer permitted man to seize but compelled him to sue.



1) International Journal of Ethics, Vol. VI, July, 1896, p. 453.
2) “Antimachus of Colophon and the Position of Women in Greek Poetry,” by E. F. M. Benecke, London, 1896. “Primitive Love and Love Stories,” by Henry T. Finck, New York, 1899.
3) “Angola and the River Congo,” by Joachim John Monteiro. In two volumes. London, 1875, Vol. I, pp. 242-243.
4) “Travels in Southern Africa,” in the years 1803, 1804, 1805, and 1806, by Henry Lichtenstein, English translation, Dublin, 1812, p. 261.
5) Journals, etc., Vol. II, p. 321.
6) “Histoire de la Civilisation en France depuis la chute de I’Empire Romain,” par M. Guizot, 3e éd., Vol. III, Paris, 1840, Sixième Leçon, pp. 351-382.
7) “Histoire générale de Ia Civilisation en Europe depuis la chute de I’Empire Romain,” par M. Guizot, 4e éd., Paris, 1840, Huitième Leçon, pp. 231-257.

Ernest B. Bax on “Chivalry Feminism”

E.B. Bax talks of first-wave feminists soliciting, expecting and receiving male chivalry for the benefit of women. His assessment below prefigures how “chivalry feminists” have continued to operate through second and third-wave feminism. Indeed it can be argued that feminism’s most effective source of agency has always been its reliance on male chivalry.

Knight Templar1

E.B. Bax quotes:

I decline to bow down before a sexual principle, or to admit the justice of granting privileges on the basis of a sex-sentiment. What I contended and still contend is that the bulk of the advocates of woman’s rights are simply working, not for equality, but for female ascendency. It is all very well to say they repudiate chivalry. They are ready enough to invoke it politically when they want to get a law passed in their favour – while socially, to my certain knowledge, many of them claim it as a right every whit as much as ordinary women.

Source: No Misogyny But True Equality in To-Day, October 1887, pp.115-121


Notwithstanding the state of law, public opinion, and custom, the “shrieking sisterhood,” and their male lackeys continue to invoke male “chivalry” in defence of every usurpation or act of injustice perpetrated in the interest of female domination… In the early middle ages, when strength of arm was commonly called into requisition for defence, “chivalry” had a meaning; in the nineteenth century it has none, and is merely an excuse for the privileges and domination of the female sex. In fact, if “chivalry” means taking the side of the weaker, it would be shown more often to-day, in championing the cause of the man against the woman, than that of the woman against the man. Hegel said that every typical character appeared twice in history – once as tragedy and once as farce. If we apply this to the chivalric type, and take King Arthur or Sir Launcelot (regarded for the nonce as historical personages) as the embodiment of the former we may certainly find the latter in the person of the great cheap-jack of London journalism, and exponent of the sorrows of husband-hunting wenches. The drop is certainly great from the hero of the “City of Legions” to the “Northumbrian boy.”


In this great step toward real as opposed to sham equality between the sexes [we require] the repudiation by women themselves of the anachronistic notion of “Chivalry,” as being due to them from men. If we are to have equality and fellowship, let it be equality and fellowship, and not a hollow fraud masquerading under the name.

Source: Some Heterodox Notes on the Woman Question (1887)


“THE justification for the whole movement of Modern Feminism in one of its main practical aspects – namely, the placing of the female sex in the position of privilege, advantage and immunity – is concentrated in the current conception of “chivalry.” It behoves us, therefore, to devote some consideration to the meaning and implication of this notion. Now this word chivalry is the dernier ressort of those at a loss for a justification of the modern privileging of women.


“It is plain then that chivalry as understood in the present day really spells sex privilege and sex favouritism pure and simple, and that any attempts to define the term on a larger basis, or to give it a colourable rationality founded on fact, are simply subterfuges, conscious or unconscious, on the part of those who put them forward.


“Every outrageous pretension of Sentimental Feminism can be justified by the appeal to chivalry, which amounts (to use the German expression) to an appeal from Pontius to Pilate. This Sentimental Feminism commonly called chivalry is sometimes impudently dubbed by its votaries, “manliness.” It will presumably continue in its practical effects until a sufficient minority of sensible men will have the moral courage to beard a Feminist public opinion and shed a little of this sort of “manliness.”


“Such is “chivalry” as understood to-day – the deprivation, the robbery from men of the most elementary personal rights in order to endow women with privileges at the expense of men.


But these considerations afford only one more illustration of the utter irrationality of the whole movement of Sentimental Feminism identified with the notion of “chivalry.” For the rest, we may find illustrations of this galore. A very flagrant case is that infamous “rule of the sea” which came so much into prominence at the time of the Titanic disaster. According to this preposterous “chivalric” Feminism, in the case of a ship foundering, it is the unwritten law of the seas, not that the passengers shall leave the ship and be rescued in their order as they come, but that the whole female portion shall have the right of being rescued before any man is allowed to leave the ship. Now this abominable piece of sex favouritism, on the face of it, cries aloud in its irrational injustice.

Source: Chapter-5 ‘The Chivalry Fake’ in The Fraud of Feminism, 1913



“Chivalry, as understood by Modern Sentimental Feminism, means unlimited licence for women in their relations with men, and unlimited coercion for men in their relations with women. To men all duties and no rights, to women all rights and no duties, is the basic principle underlying Modern Feminism, Suffragism, and the bastard chivalry it is so fond of invoking. The most insistent female shrieker for equality between the sexes among Political Feminists, it is interesting to observe, will, in most cases, on occasion be found an equally insistent advocate of the claims of Sentimental Feminism, based on modern metamorphosed notions of chivalry. It never seems to strike anyone that the muscular weakness of woman has been forged by Modern Feminists into an abominable weapon of tyranny. Under cover of the notion of chivalry, as understood by Modern Feminism, Political and Sentimental Feminists alike would deprive men of the most elementary rights of self-defence against women and would exonerate the latter practically from all punishment for the most dastardly crimes against men. They know they can rely upon the support of the sentimental section of public opinion with some such parrot cry of’ “What! Hit a woman!”

Why not, if she molests you?

“Treat a woman in this way!” “Shame!” responds automatically the crowd of Sentimental Feminist idiots, oblivious of the fact that the real shame lies in their endorsement of an iniquitous sex privilege. If the same crowd were prepared to condemn any special form of punishment or mode of treatment as inhumane for both sexes alike, there would, of course, be nothing to be said. But it is not so. The most savage cruelty and vindictive animosity towards men leaves them comparatively cold, at most evoking a mild remonstrance as against the inflated manifestation of sentimental horror and frothy indignation produced by any slight hardship inflicted by way of punishment (let us say) on a female offender.”


“In the foregoing pages we have endeavoured to trace some of the leading strands of thought going to make up the Modern Feminist Movement. Sentimental Feminism clearly has its roots in sexual feeling, and in the tradition of chivalry, albeit the notion of chivalry has essentially changed in the course of its evolution. For the rest, Sentimental Feminism, with its double character of man-antipathy and woman-sympathy, as we see it to-day, has assumed the character of one of those psychopathic social phenomena which have so often recurred in history. It can only be explained, like the latter, as an hypnotic wave passing over society.

Source: Chapter 7: The Psychology of the Movement – The Fraud of Feminism (1913)


Let women have the franchise by all means, provided two things, first of all: provided you can get rid of their present practical immunity from the operation of the criminal law for all offences committed against men and of the gallantry and shoddy chivalry that now hedges a woman in all relations of life.

Source: The “Monstrous Regiment” of Womanhood (1907), in Essays in Socialism New & Old (1907), pp.108-119.

Damseling and ‘Chivalry’ in International Negotiations: A Survey Experiment in the Council of the European Union

Daniel Naurin, Elin Naurin, Amy Alexander (2019)



Gender stereotypes—stylized expectations of individuals’ traits and capabilities based on their gender—may affect the behavior of diplomats and the processes of international negotiations. In a survey experiment in the Council of the European Union, we find that female representatives behaving stereotypically weak and vulnerable may trigger a chivalry reaction among male representatives, increasing the likelihood that the men will agree to support a bargaining proposal from the women.

The effect is conditional on the negotiators’ cultural background—the chivalry reaction is displayed mainly by diplomats from countries with relatively low levels of gender equality. Our study contributes to the research on nonstandard behavior in international relations, and in particular the expression and reception of emotions in diplomacy.

We argue that gender stereotypes may have a moderating impact on decision making based on such intuitive cognitive processes. We also add to the broader negotiation literature, both by showing the pervasiveness of gender stereotyping, and by testing at the elite level the generalizability of claims regarding gender effects derived from laboratory experiments. Overall, our findings demonstrate the importance of bringing gender into the study of international negotiations, where it has been largely and surprisingly ignored.

SOURCE: Gender Stereotyping and Chivalry in International Negotiations: A Survey Experiment in the Council of the European Union

[Book] Chivalry: A Gynocentric Tradition

The following is from the introduction to my new co-authored book (with Paul Elam) of collected writings on chivalry. The book includes updated versions of previously published essays, and two excellent contributions by Paul Elam including a newly transcribed article Death By Chivalry: Portland Edition. You can purchase the eBook here, and the paperback here, or simply click on the cover picture below. – PW.

FINAL gyno4


The importance of chivalry is taught to little girls and boys from the start, outlining for them the various rules of male obligation that will guide sexual relations throughout their lifetimes; i.e., males are here to protect and provide.

The victories of legendary cinematic heroes whose brave deeds are rounded with applause and happily-ever-afters appears to seal the fate of chivalry as the future path of every man.

Those few who do pause to question chivalry’s values however – its rote expectation of male sacrifice, possibility of danger or injury, impacts on mental health, potential for exploitation and abuse, or the question of valid compensations for ongoing sacrifices – may conclude that it serves as a poor life map, or worse that it amounts to a malignant and toxic form of masculinity.

This book examines the realities of chivalry beyond the usual platitudes and cliches to see what’s really at stake for men in the present zeitgeist. The essays, written by men’s advocates Peter Wright and Paul Elam, survey the roots of the chivalric tradition and examine real life examples of chivalry in action.

Chapters include:

1. The Birth Of Chivalric Love
2. A Bastardized Chivalry
3. What Ever Happened To Chivalry?
4. Sporting Tournaments: ‘It Will Make A Man Out Of You’
5. Intervening for women
6. Chivalry: A Learned Deathwish
7. Death By Chivalry: Portland Edition
8. Aggrieved Entitlement: Women’s Reaction to Temporary Loss Of Chivalry
9. Can A Woman Be Chivalrous?

Bastardized chivalry: from concern for weakness to sexual exploitation


“Chivalry, as understood by Modern Sentimental Feminism, means unlimited licence for women in their relations with men, and unlimited coercion for men in their relations with women. To men all duties and no rights, to women all rights and no duties, is the basic principle underlying Modern Feminism, Suffragism, and the bastard chivalry it is so fond of invoking.” – (Bax, 1913, p. 141)

In 1913 English barrister Ernest B. Bax observed that chivalry had undergone an alteration or, as he understood it, a corruption from its earlier intent of deference to weakness. (Bax, 1913). He contended that the original definition was no longer current since in its modern application the question of a person’s sex took precedence over that of weakness proper. Instead of chivalry being directed to the care and protection of children, frail elders, the disabled, or the wounded in battle as in earlier times, Bax understood the new chivalry as being confined strictly to “sex privilege and sex favouritism pure and simple.” (Bax, 1913, p. 100).

The claim of chivalry being redirected along predominantly sexual lines is confirmed by most modern dictionaries, for example in the Cambridge Dictionary which defines it as ‘Very polite, honest, and kind behaviour, especially toward women.’ (Dictionary C, 2015). Following in the footsteps of Bax the following essay will explore the gendered facets of “bastard chivalry,” focusing on its promotion of sex-favouritism and associated impacts on male health.

The emergence and divergence of ‘two chivalries’

The earliest meaning of chivalry referred to a code of behaviour followed by medieval knights of Europe, the word itself being derived from Old French chevalerie, from medieval Latin caballerius meaning ‘horseman’ (Dictionary O.E., 2008). As Bax observes;

“The term meant originally the virtues associated with knighthood considered as a whole, bravery even to the extent of reckless daring, loyalty to the chief or feudal superior, generosity to a fallen foe, general open-handedness, and open-heartedness, including, of course, the succour of the weak and the oppressed generally, inter alia, the female sex when in difficulties… [O]nly a fragment of the original connotation of the word chivalry is covered by the term as used in our time, and that even that fragment is torn from its original connection and is made to serve as a scarecrow in the field of public opinion to intimidate all who refuse to act upon, or who protest against, the privileges and immunities of the female sex.” (Bax, 1913, pp. 100-101)

The variation referred to by Bax can be traced back to an emerging culture of courtly love and its harnessing of chivalry to new ends, which in the West is a development of the twelfth century. According to historian Jennifer G. Wollock of Texas University, “the idea that love is ennobling and necessary for the education of a knight comes out of the lyrics of this period, but also in the romances of knighthood. Here the truest lovers are now the best knights.” (Wollock, 2011, p. 42)

In that historical context chivalry was subjected to a new contextual application, taken up by an emerging culture of courtly love in which men were taught to direct their chivalric cares, concern, protection, obedience, and service exclusively to women (Alfonsi, 1986). Over the course of two centuries there emerged two distinctly differentiated versions of chivalry: a continuing military chivalry with its code of conduct and proper contexts, and a romantic chivalry complete with its code of conduct and proper contexts.

It is difficult to pinpoint when the culture of romantic chivalry constellated and found relative independence from its military forerunner, but the evidence of troubadour poetry, romance fiction (Yalom, 2012), and etiquette manuals (Cappelanus, 1990) detailing the elaborate conventions of romantic chivalry attest to its emergence by the end of the twelfth century. Central to that revolution was the imperial patronage of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter Marie de Champagne who together elaborated the military notion of chivalry into one of servicing ladies.

Prior to the twelfth century romantic chivalry did not exist as a gendered construct; it was in the Middle Ages that it developed cultural complexity and became the enduring cultural norm we inherit today. The following timeline details the birth of romantic chivalry along with significant historical events that promoted its survival:

1102 AD: Romantic chivalry first introduced

William IX, Duke of Aquitaine, the most powerful feudal lord in France, wrote the first troubadour poems and is widely considered the first troubadour. Parting with the tradition of fighting wars strictly on behalf of man, king, God and country, William is said to have had the image of his mistress painted on his shield, whom he called midons (my Lord) saying that it was his will to bear her in battle, as she had borne him in bed.

 1152 AD: Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine invites poet Bernard de Ventadorn to compose songs of love for her and her husband, Henry II. The songs lay down a code of chivalric behaviour for how a good man should treat his “lady,” which Eleanor employs in an apparent attempt to civilize her husband and his male associates. Eleanor and other noblewomen began to encourage poetic narratives that set expectations on how men should act around them (School of Life, 2011).

 1168 – 1198 AD: The romantic chivalry trope is elaborated and given imperial patronage by Eleanor and her daughter Marie. At Eleanor’s court in Poitiers Eleanor and Marie embroidered the Christian military code of chivalry with a code for romantic lovers, thus putting women at the center of courtly life – and in doing so they had permanently changed the face of chivalry (McKnight, 1994).

1170 AD: Eleanor and Marie established the formal Courts of Love presided over by themselves and a jury of 60 noble ladies who would investigate and hand down judgements on love-disputes according to the newly introduced code governing gender relations. The courts were modelled precisely along the lines of the traditional feudal courts where disputes between retainers had been settled by the powerful lord. In this case however the disputes were between lovers (McKnight, 1994).

1180 AD: Marie directs Chrétien de Troyes to write Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart, a love story about Lancelot and Guinevere elaborating the nature of romantic chivalry. Chrétien de Troyes objected to the implicit approval of the adulterous affair between Lancelot and Guinevere that Marie had directed him to write about and failed to finish it, but later poets completed the story on Chrétien’s behalf. Chrétien also wrote other famous romances including Erec and Enide  (McKnight, 1994).

1188 AD: Marie directs her chaplain Andreas Capellanus to write The Art of Courtly Love. This guide to the chivalric codes of romantic love is a document that could pass as contemporary in almost every respect, excepting for the outdated class structures and assumptions. Many of the admonitions in Andreas textbook are believed to have come from the women who directed the writing (McKnight, 1994).

1180 – 1380 AD: In two hundred years the culture or romantic chivalry spread from France to become instituted in all the principle courts of Europe, and went on to capture the imagination of men, women and children of all social classes. According to Jennifer Wollock (2011), the continuing popularity of chivalric love stories is confirmed by the contents of women’s libraries of the late Middle Ages, literature which had a substantial female readership including mothers reading to their daughters. Aside from the growing access to literature, chivalric culture values spread via everyday interactions among people in which they shared the ideas.

The aristocratic classes who first developed the romantic chivalry trope did not exist in a vacuum. The courtly themes they enacted would most certainly have captured the imaginations of the lower classes though public displays of pomp and pageantry, troubadours and tournaments, minstrels and playwrights, the telling of romantic stories, and of course the gossip flowing everywhere which would have exerted a powerful effect on the peasant imagination (Wright 2014).

It is possible that those of even lower classes adopted some assumptions portrayed in the public displays, such as the importance of chivalrous behavior toward women and perhaps a belief in women’s purity and moral superiority. Certainly by the 1600s and beyond, the adaptation of romantic chivalry by lower classes was in full career, as evidenced by Lucrezia Marinella who provides an example of Venetian society from the year 1600:

It is a marvelous sight in our city to see the wife of a shoemaker or butcher or even a porter all dressed up with gold chains round her neck, with pearls and valuable rings on her fingers, accompanied by a pair of women on either side to assist her and give her a hand, and then, by contrast, to see her husband cutting up meat all soiled with ox’s blood and down at heel, or loaded up like a beast of burden dressed in rough cloth, as porters are.

At first it may seem an astonishing anomaly to see the wife dressed like a lady and the husband so basely that he often appears to be her servant or butler, but if we consider the matter properly, we find it reasonable because it is necessary for a woman, even if she is humble and low, to be ornamented in this way because of her natural dignity and excellence, and for the man to be less so, like a servant or beast born to serve her.

Women have been honored by men with great and eminent titles that are used by them continually, being commonly referred to as donne, for the name donna means lady and mistress. When men refer to women thus, they honor them, though they may not intend to, by calling them ladies, even if they are humble and of a lowly disposition. In truth, to express the nobility of this sex men could not find a more appropriate and fitting name than donna, which immediately shows women’s superiority and precedence over men, because by calling women mistress they [men] show themselves of necessity to be subjects and servants (Marinella, 1999).

While popular recognition of the ‘two chivalries’ ran concurrently over several hundred years, the notion of military chivalry would eventually be relegated to obscurity in popular discourse as described in the observations above by Bax and evidenced by definitions in modern dictionaries.

Ideological structure of romantic chivalry

Romantic chivalry is alluded to by alternative terms such as benevolent sexism, romantic love, gentlemanliness, courtesy, gallantry, heroism, or simply chivalry. The practice has roots in what some scholars have referred to as chivalric ‘love service,’ (Bennett, 2013) a ritualized form of devotion by men toward women popularized by troubadours in the Middle Ages. The earliest conceptualization of love service borrowed from the vocabulary of medieval feudalism, mimicking ties between a liegeman and his overlord; i.e., the male lover is referred to as homo ligius (the woman’s liegeman, or ‘my man’) who pledged honor, and servitium (service) to the lady via a posture of feudal homage. The lady was addressed as midons (literally ‘my lord’), and also by dominus (denoting the feudal Lady) (Alfonsi, 1986). These practices form the ideological taproot of modern romantic chivalry.

The conventions and indeed the lived practices of romantic chivalry celebrated first among the upper classes made their way by degrees eventually to the middle classes and finally to the lower classes – or rather they broke class structure altogether in the sense that all Western peoples became inheritors of the customs regardless of their social station. Today chivalry is a norm observed across the majority of global cultures, an explicitly gynocentric norm aimed to increase the comfort, safety and power of women, while affording men a sense of purpose and occasional heroism in addressing that same task (Wright, 2014).

C.S. Lewis referred to the growth of romantic chivalry as “the feudalisation of love,” (Lewis, 2013, p. 2) making the observation that it has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched. He observed that European society has moved essentially from a social feudalism, involving a contractual arrangement between a feudal lord and his vassal, to a sexual feudalism involving a comparable contract between men and women as symbolized in the act of a man going down on one knee to propose marriage (Wright, 2014).

Education in chivalry through the use of shame

The education and transmission of chivalry from generation to generation is overseen by parents, teachers and peers, and is reinforced by a plethora of culture-mediums including social media, mainstream media, political narratives, romance novels, music, cinema and the arts. Through these mediums romantic chivalry is internalized by young girls and boys as models of expected gendered behaviour.

An early example appears in the 1825 volume The History of Chivalry or Knighthood and Its Times, describing the education of a boy in the expectations of romantic chivalry. The author tells that in Medieval Europe the intellectual and moral education of boys in the chivalric code was given by the time they turned seven years by the ladies of the court:

“From the lips of the ladies the gentle page learned both his catechism and the art of love, and as the religion of the day was full of symbols, and addressed to the senses, so the other feature of his devotion was not to be nourished by abstract contemplation alone. He was directed to regard some one lady of the court as the type of his heart’s future mistress; she was the centre of all his hopes and wishes; to her he was obedient, faithful, and courteous.” (Mills, 1825, pp. 32-33)

To illustrate such education we are provided an anecdote of a young boy named Jean de Saintre, page of honour at the court of the French king. A Dame des Belles Cousines enquired of the boy ‘the name of the mistress of his heart’s affections’:

The simple youth replied, that he loved his lady mother, and next to her, his sister Jacqueline was dear to him. “Young man,” rejoined the lady, “I am not speaking of the affection due to your mother and sister; but I wish to know the name of the lady to whom you are attached par amours.” The poor boy was still more confused, and he could only reply that he loved no one par amours.

The Dame des Belles Cousines charged him with being a traitor to the laws of chivalry, and declared that his craven spirit was evinced by such an avowal. “Whence,” she enquired, “sprang the valiancy and knightly feats of Launcelot, Gawain, Tristram, Giron the courteous, and other ornaments of the round table of Ponthus, and of those knights and squires of this country whom I could enumerate: whence the grandeur of many whom I have known to arise to renown, except from the noble desire of maintaining themselves in the grace and esteem of the ladies; without which spirit-stirring sentiment they must have ever remained in the shades of obscurity? And do you, coward valet, presume to declare that you possess no sovereign lady, and desire to have none?”

Jean underwent a long scene of persecution on account of his confession of the want of proper chivalric sentiment, but he was at length restored to favour by the intercession of the ladies of the court. He then named as his mistress Matheline de Coucy, a child only ten years old.  (Mills, 1825, pp. 32-33)

The pressure applied to the boy of this account, including shaming responses for his non-conformity, provide testament to the pressures that accompanied, and continue to accompany, deviance from the dictates of romantic chivalry. Education of this kind is common on social media today where read commentaries about “unchivalrous” males who by their failures become the subject of mockery and shame (a Google search for unchivalrous co-occurs with the word ‘shame’ 54,900 times; ‘ashamed’ 23,400; ‘pathetic’ 31,000; ‘loser’ 14,500; and ‘unmanly’ 9,960 times respectively). (Google, 2018)

A recent example of a shaming narrative serving as an educative prompt appeared in the online Conservative Woman (Perrins, 2018). The article recounted an incident from the year 1989 when 25-year-old gunman Marc Lépine entered the École Polytechnique armed with a semi-automatic rifle and ordered the males and females to form into separate groups. He then began killing several women and injuring some of the men. The author lamented that these men “abandoned” the women in an “act of abdication” that would have been unthinkable in previous, more chivalric periods of history. The author admits she was “pretty shocked that the men left,” and finally blames “the collapse of protective masculinity” as a preventable factor in the deaths of those women.

Regarding younger children, a search for chivalry and related terms such as “knight” “damsel in distress” and “princess” in the children’s section of Amazon Books website (for ages 2–12) generated over 10,000 results, revealing that a fascination with medieval gender roles remains popular with children and their parents today, a result that can be multiplied with the addition of teenage and adult books in the same genre (Amazon, 2018). One example titled Noisy Knights (for boys aged 2-5) shows pictures of a distressed damsel menaced by a fire-breathing dragon (the book includes a battery operated button to make her scream in audio) (Taplin, 2010). The text asks the reader if he knows of any knight who might be brave enough to save her, a question clearly designed to lead young male reader to volunteer service, imagining himself stepping into a position of danger to protect the damsel and reduce her distress.

Noisy Knights (Taplin, 2010, P. 5-6) invites young male readers to identify with a ‘damsel-saving’ knight

Romantic chivalry is further popularized in video games and Disney movies, for example, which are bestsellers among children in the digital age. Many themes of romantic chivalry appear charming in isolation from their real-world implications, a delight to the imagination, however as the field of narrative psychology likes to remind; our identities consist of such stuff as dreams are made. The stories that children and adults absorb are the stories they enact, and in this case there is potential for men and boys to enact them to the neglect of their health, safety, dignity and larger human potential (Wright & Elam, 2017, p. 29-31).

Benevolent Sexism

In the field of sociology chivalry remains a much-researched topic, though renamed and problematized under the heading ‘benevolent sexism.’ According to P. Glick et.al (2000), the attitudes tapped in the Benevolent Sexism Scale are closer to medieval ideologies of chivalry than they are to other modern social or political movements. Benevolent Sexism (often shortened humorously to ‘BS’) is rooted in the traditional culture-structures guiding personal relationships between men and women and is not an outcome of contemporary politics, even when reinforced by political discourse and encoded in legislation (Glick, et.al., 2000).

Benevolent sexism is described as the expression of reverence and care toward women while promising they will be protected and provided for by men, and is thus experienced subjectively by women as an agreeable form of sexism (Hammond, et.al., 2014). Moreover, research has shown that these attitudes objectively do benefit women because men who express agreement with benevolent sexism are generally more caring, satisfying, and positive relationship partners (Hammond, et.al., 2014).

In their study aptly titled The Allure of Sexism, Matthew D. Hammond et.al. (2014) researched whether a sense of entitlement to special treatments—a central facet of narcissism based on feelings of superiority and deservingness—was linked with endorsement of benevolent sexism by women across time:

‘If women endorse benevolent sexism because of the individual-level benefits it offers, then women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism should vary depending on dispositional differences in psychological entitlement. Psychological entitlement is a core facet of narcissism, which encompasses feelings that the self deserves nice things, social status and praise, and beliefs of the self as superior, highly intelligent, and attractive (Campbell, Bonacci, Shelton, Exline & Bushman, 2004; Campbell, Brunell, & Finkel, 2006; Emmons, 1987; Miller & Campbell, 2010). The model of narcissistic self-regulation characterizes psychological entitlement as manifesting in efforts to gain esteem, status, and resources (Campbell & Foster, 2007; Campbell et al., 2006; Morf & Rhodewalt, 2001). Such efforts include adopting a superficially charming, confident, and energetic approach to social interactions (Foster, Shrira, & Campbell, 2006; Paulhus, 1998), taking personal responsibility for successes and attributing failures to external sources (Chowning & Campbell, 2009; Rhodewalt & Morf, 1998), and acting selfishly to secure material gains even when it means exploiting others (Campbell et al., 2004; Campbell, Bush, Brunell, & Shelton, 2005).’ (Hammond, et.al., 2014, p. 2).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that a psychological sense of entitlement in women does mediate endorsement of benevolent sexism. Moreover, the researchers theorized that characteristics of narcissistic entitlement – those which drive resource-attainment and self-enhancement strategies – are the same qualities that promote women’s adoption of benevolent sexism:

‘First, benevolent sexism facilitates the capacity to gain material resources and complements feelings of deservingness by promoting a structure of intimate relationships in which men use their access to social power and status to provide for women (Chen et al., 2009). Second, benevolent sexism reinforces beliefs of superiority by expressing praise and reverence of women, emphasizing qualities of purity, morality, and culture which make women the ‘‘fairer sex.’’ Indeed, identifying with these kinds of gender-related beliefs (e.g., women are warm) fosters a more positive self-concept (Rudman, Greenwald, & McGhee, 2001).

Moreover, for women higher in psychological entitlement, benevolent sexism legitimizes a self-centric approach to relationships by emphasizing women’s special status within the intimate domain and men’s responsibilities of providing and caring for women. Such care involves everyday chivalrous behaviors, such as paying on a first date and opening doors for women (Sarlet et al., 2012; Viki et al., 2003), to more overarching prescriptions for men’s behavior toward women, such as being ‘‘willing to sacrifice their own well-being’’ to provide for women and to ensure women’s happiness by placing her ‘‘on a pedestal’’ (Ambivalent Sexism Inventory; Glick & Fiske, 1996). Thus, women higher in psychological entitlement should be particularly enticed by benevolent sexism because it justifies provision and praise from men as expected behavior and does not require women to reciprocate the reverence or material gains, which men provide.’ (Hammond, et.al., 2014, pp. 3-4).

While the Hammond study describes the sense of entitlement by women in terms of narcissistic motivation, it is more accurately termed gynocentric based on the exclusively gendered context, i.e. woman as center of the relational contract who feels deserving of benevolent gestures from men and boys. While deservingness is an integral feature of narcissism, the concept of gynocentrism provides more specificity than does narcissism because women may not feel entitled, for example, to special treatment by non-intimate males nor by other women (as compared to an individual scoring high on standard narcissism scales), reserving instead the sense of entitlement for intimate gendered relationships. The gendered context of women’s sense of entitlement is confirmed by studies showing that women tend to score lower than men on global narcissism scales (Grijalva, et.al., 2013), however such measures fail to take into account the exclusively gendered domain in which benevolent sexism operates and in which the level of female narcissism may be much higher.

A 2018 survey of 782 female subjects found women believe male partners displaying benevolent sexist attitudes are more willing to protect, provide for, and commit to them, which in turn rendered those men more attractive. Interestingly, feminist women were just as likely as non-feminist women to prefer benevolently sexist men over more egalitarian men regardless of whether they rated themselves as high or low feminists. High feminists rated the benevolent sexist men as more patronizing and undermining than did low feminists, but felt the positive sides of benevolent sexism outweighed the negatives (Gul & Kupfer, 2018).

Societal chivalry

Beyond the relational sphere, chivalric customs are utilized to facilitate more empowerment of women via the initiatives of national and international governing bodies. This can be witnessed for example in anti-violence campaigns such as the White Ribbon initiative in Australia which asks men to “Stand up, speak out, and act” to ensure the dignity, safety and comfort of any women, even strangers, who might find themselves in real or imagined danger (Seymour, 2018).

We witness it again internationally in the HeForShe campaign initiated by UN Women Ambassador Emma Watson, who in her introductory speech appealed to feminist oversight of gendered matters six times, and then to the importance of men offering their chivalric support to women’s empowerment: “I want men to take up this mantle. So their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice… I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, to be the ‘he’ for ‘she.’ And to ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?” (Watson, 2014).

Chivalry operates outside the interpersonal sphere in which men have traditionally given up their seats in buses, whereby governments are now providing seats for women in legislative assemblies and in boardrooms via quotas. Similarly the act of a man opening a door for a woman is now enacted by governments who open doors for women into universities and workforces via the practice of affirmative action (Wright, 2017). Indeed chivalry has arguably been exploited to meet objectives of women’s empowerment since at least the time of Bax, who in the year 1887 contended that “It is all very well to say they [feminists] repudiate chivalry. They are ready enough to invoke it politically when they want to get a law passed in their favour – while socially, to my certain knowledge, many of them claim it as a right every whit as much as ordinary women.” (Bax, 1887, p. 114-121).

Negative health outcomes for men and boys

Men and boys who enact chivalric masculinity may pay a considerable price in the process, psychologically, socially or physically. Romantic chivalry emphasizes protection of women (Dictionary Y, 2018), thus men are placed in danger of being injured, maimed or killed when “intervening” in difficult situations such as those evoked by the White Ribbon initiatives, or while working in the male dominated professions of military, police, and firefighters for whom acts of benevolent sexism are celebrated.

The masculine norm of stoicism (Murray, et.al., 2008) involving the repression of emotion and the cultivation of indifference to pleasure or pain serves maintain men’s chivalric focus on women’s assumed need for support, protection and male deference. Conversely, if a man or boy becomes focused on his own emotions, pain, pleasure or needs, he risks being viewed as a poor protector and provider (i.e. less chivalrous), which will be likely met with social shaming if not outright violence as modes of punishing transgressions and encouraging compliance.

The gendered morality of chivalry dictates that men and boys receive less compassion and assistance than their female counterparts (Eagly & Crowley, 1986), are more likely to be viewed as suitable targets for infliction of violence, pain and other harm (Feldman-Hall, et.al., 2016), are more likely to receive harsher legal penalties than women for offenses (Curry, et.al., 2004), and conversely perpetrators of crime against males are more likely to receive lenient sentences as compared to those who perpetrate crimes against women who receive the longest sentences (Curry, et.al., 2004).  Males who suffer disability or mental illness are more often stigmatized and treated with less ‘chivalric’ compassion or positivity than their female counterparts (Whitley, et.al., 2015). The differential gender outcomes in these examples demonstrate that romantic chivalry fosters a ‘sympathy-deficit’ toward males and their issues, and a conversely heightened concern for women’s issues. This gender-preferential bias has been referred to as gynosympathy (Wright, 2016), a practice that negatively impacts men’s willingness to seek help and assistance when needed (Eagly & Crowley, 1986).

The employment of traditional sex-role strategies (inclusive of stoicism and chivalry) increase the likelihood of male depression (Addis, 2008; Batty, 2006, Liljegren, 2010, Oliffe, & Phillips, 2008), anxiety, stress, and poorer health behaviors (Eisler, et.al., 1998), suicide (Houle, et.al., 2008), and accidental death (Stillion & McDowell, 2002), however the precise degree to which chivalry contributes to these outcomes requires further research.

Summary and conclusion

The chivalry surveyed in this essay is both sexist and gynocentric in nature, one that demands men provide numerous psychological gratifications and material benefits to recipient women. Enactment of chivalric behaviours may also provide secondary benefits for men and boys, such as increased social/peer approval and greater access to female romantic partners (Hammond, et.al., 2014). The chivalric role offers heterosexual men a life-map to guide their social behaviour while providing a sense of self based on service to women. This in contrast to socially disapproved identities such as ‘unchivalrous’ males, voluntarily confirmed bachelors (Holland, 1959), or alternatively to gay or transgender men whose identities are not built on service to women (Polimeni, et.al., 2000; Nagoshi, et.al., 2008).

Men adhering to chivalric behaviour are rewarded with social valorization, and in the more extreme examples are praised as selfless “heroes” for which medals are awarded by mainstream social institutions. On the negative side of the equation there may be a lack of recognition for ongoing sacrifices – chivalry as rote expectation, an assigned role, codified and reinforced with shame. In both adhering, and in failing to adhere to the dictates of romantic chivalry, the cumulative psychosocial burden on men may be considerable – including negative mental and physical health impacts as outlined above.

In an age of equality one might ask what continuing relevance has romantic chivalry? If we follow the definition of chivalry in the Cambridge Dictionary as a “very polite, honest, and kind behaviour,” is it still necessary to add the usual adjunct “…especially by men toward women”? Omission of the gendered framing shifts the emphasis toward extending a universal politeness, honesty, and kindness toward all peoples, reviving the older sense of chivalry from which romantic chivalry originally diverged to become the dominant or “bastardized” meaning.

Such an amendment would free men and boys to discover a variety of non-gynocentric masculinities, and revive the notion of ‘common courtesy’ as a basis for reciprocal service and devotion between men and women. Mainstream commenters occasionally pay lip service to the idea of de-genderizing chivalry (Waldman, 2013), but until such time as that sentiment is actualized in popular culture we might conclude with a rephrasing of Emma Watson’s HeForShe proposition and ask; “I am inviting you to step forward, to be seen to speak up, to be the “we” for “all.” And to ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?”


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Nagoshi, J. L., Adams, K. A., Terrell, H. K., Hill, E. D., Brzuzy, S., & Nagoshi, C. T. (2008). Gender differences in correlates of homophobia and transphobia. Sex roles59(7-8), 521.

Oliffe, J. L., & Phillips, M. J. (2008). Men, depression and masculinities: A review and recommendations. Journal of Men’s Health5(3), 194-202.

Perrins, L. (2018, August 11). No time for heroes: the men who stood by as a maniac shot their female classmate.  Retrieved from https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/no-time-for-heroes-the-men-who-stood-by-as-a-maniac-shot-their-female-classmates/

Polimeni, A. M., Hardie, E., & Buzwell, S. (2000). Homophobia among Australian heterosexuals: The role of sex, gender role ideology, and gender role traits. Current Research in Social Psychology5(4), 47-62.

Seymour, K. (2018). “Stand up, speak out and act”: A critical reading of Australia’s White Ribbon campaign. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology51(2), 293-310.

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Waldman, Katy. (August, 2013). Toward Pan-Chivalry: A New World Order. Slate.com

Whitley, R., Adeponle, A., & Miller, A. R. (2015). Comparing gendered and generic representations of mental illness in Canadian newspapers: an exploration of the chivalry hypothesis. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 50(2), 325-333.

Watson, E. (2014). Gender equality is your issue too. Speech by UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson at a Special Event for the HeForShe Campaign, United Nations Headquarters, New York20.

Wright, P. (2014). Gynocentrism: From Feudalism to The Modern Disney Princess.  Academic Century Press.

Wright, P. What Ever Happened To Chivalry? In A Brief History of The Men’s Rights Movement: From 1856 to the present. Academic Century Press.

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This article first published in New Male Studies Journal, 2019.


Aggrieved Entitlement – women’s reaction to temporary loss of chivalry

woman on fire commons

It’s no secret that women feel entitled to special treatments from men based on the European culture tradition of chivalry: i.e., allowing women to go through the door first; showering the “fairer sex” with compliments about being beautiful, caring or pure; paying for dinner and other life luxuries; and offering them costly care and protection around the clock. In the modern context chivalry boils down to the male posture of deference to women’s needs and wants, which understandably fosters a positive self-concept in women and a sense that they must be “worth it” as we are reminded by the ubiquitous advertising jingle.

The expectation of male chivalry, or benevolent sexism as some prefer to call it, is nothing new and there are countless studies confirming that women generally expect such treatment from men.1 So we will take that expectation as a given. What hasn’t been studied sufficiently in women is the reaction men’s failure to provide expected level of chivalric supplies, and this is where we run into the useful concept of ‘aggrieved entitlement.’

The phrase aggrieved entitlement was popularized by feminist Michael Kimmel who refers to it as a gendered emotion displayed by disenfranchised males, entailing “a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back.”2 By ‘manhood’ Kimmel is referring to rights that males have supposedly enjoyed over women that are subsequently denied them by a changing world. He further clarifies that men “tend to feel their sense of aggrieved entitlement because of the past; they want to restore what they once had. Their entitlement is not aspirational; its nostalgic.”3

In a recent paper Dennis Gouws suggests that the aggrieved entitlement descriptor can be equally applied to the behavior of women. Reviewing Kimmel’s concept he concludes:

Because Kimmel’s sympathies lie with gender feminism, he is uninterested in how this concept might apply to women’s behavior. Women might express aggrieved entitlement when they experience what they perceive to be a humiliating loss of the gynocentric privilege to which gynocentric chivalry, gender feminism, and hegemonic gynarchy have entitled them. Self-righteous, angry expressions of personal offense and even violent acts might result from their perceived moral obligation to regain their sense of gynocentric privilege. A cursory internet search of gender-feminist responses to men’s-issues speakers on campus and to the establishing men’s groups or other male-positive spaces on campus will provide examples of this aggrieved entitlement.4

Gouws provides a useful example of aggrieved entitlement by women who dominate university campus culture. Men attempting to establish male support groups on female-dominated campuses, or who attempt to invite speakers sympathetic to men’s health issues, have frequently been met with fury for apparently removing the chivalric focus from women and their issues. The resultant female rage has triggered violent protests, intimidation, vindictive and false accusations, or boycotting of male initiatives through financial and other means.

Looking at the sexual-relations contract that has been operating for eons we can see that a certain degree of narcissistic pride was encouraged in order to sweeten gender roles for men and women – “He’s an awesome strong man, a man’s man and a great provider” or “She’s a magnificent mother, those children never go without love or food”. Those adhering to traditional gender roles received compliments for their service, along with some compensatory payoffs by the opposite sex.

When an individual fails to adhere to their traditional gender role the bubble of narcissistic pride bursts, giving rise to aggrieved entitlement in members of the opposite sex. In the language of psychology we would say the expectation of narcissistic supply has been cut off, and narcissistic injury and rage steps forward to address the grievance. Most readers would know that some of the worst examples of aggrieved entitlement by women are displayed by feminists, about whose behavior Ernest B. Bax concluded in the year 1909; “Weakness, to whose claim chivalry may per se be granted, forfeits its claim when it presumes upon that claim and becomes aggressive. Aggressive weakness deserves no quarter.”5

Bax further elaborates on aggressive weakness (i.e., aggrieved entitlement) in the following passages:

I may point out in conclusion that the existing state of public opinion on the subject registers the fact that sex-conscious women have exploited the muscular weakness of their sex and have succeeded in forging a weapon of tyranny called “chivalry” which enables them to ride rough-shod over every principle of justice and fair play. Men are cowed by it, and fail to distinguish between simple weakness per se which should command every consideration, and that of aggressive weakness which trades upon “chivalry” and deserves no quarter.6

“Even taking the matter on the conventional ground of weakness and granting, for the sake of argument, the relative muscular weakness of the female as ground for her being allowed the immunity claimed by Modern Feminists of the sentimental school, the distinction is altogether lost sight of between weakness as such and aggressive weakness. Now I submit there is a very considerable difference between what is due to weakness that is harmless and unprovocative, and weakness that is aggressive, still more when this aggressive weakness presumes on itself as weakness, and on the consideration extended to it, in order to become tyrannical and oppressive. Weakness as such assuredly deserves all consideration, but aggressive weakness deserves none save to be crushed beneath the iron heel of strength. Woman at the present day has been encouraged by a Feminist public opinion to become meanly aggressive under the protection of her weakness. She has been encouraged to forge her gift of weakness into a weapon of tyranny against man, unwitting that in so doing she has deprived her weakness of all just claim to consideration or even to toleration.”7

Bax penned the above observations over a century ago, although the behavior he described had been around for much longer than that. The phrase ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ is usually attributed to the English playwright and poet William Congreve. He wrote these lines in his play The Mourning Bride, 1697:

Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.

These lines describe a temporary loss of male chivalry by women and the aggrieved entitlement that ensues – a reaction that Michael Kimmel pretentiously emphasizes as a mostly male pathology. A more honest appraisal of the changing gender roles and the accompanying sense of aggrieved entitlement would admit that women’s roles and choices have expanded exponentially, which includes the throwing off of any expected responsibilities toward men and boys, while conversely the male role of providing benevolent sexism/chivalry for women has changed little. On the basis of such disparity men appear to be coping remarkably well in comparison to women who retain many of their traditional privileges and expectations, but who display extreme rage at micro-disenfranchisements and momentary lapses in chivalric supply.

chivalry kkk

Benevolent sexism toward women remains the norm, despite women’s traditional obligations toward men being wiped out

In summary the grief-reaction over loss of traditional roles is not a predominately male issue. Women have yet to experience the loss of gendered entitlements on anywhere near the same scale as men, however they are equally proficient at raging over micro-losses of chivalry and male deference. The theory of aggrieved entitlement thus applies to no gender in particular – so lets use it to describe the ever-present rage displayed by women in both private and public settings.


[1] Hammond, M. D., Sibley, C. G., & Overall, N. C. The allure of sexism: Psychological entitlement fosters women’s endorsement of benevolent sexism over time. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(4), 422-429. (2014)
[2] Kalish, R., & Kimmel, M. Suicide by mass murder: Masculinity, aggrieved entitlement, and rampage school shootings. Health Sociology Review, 9(4), 451–464. (2010)
[3] Kimmel, Michael. Angry white men: American masculinity at the end of an era. Hachette UK, (2017).
[4] Dennis Gouws, Not So Romantic For Men: Using Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe to Explore Evolving Notions of Chivalry, in Voicing the Silences of Social and Cognitive Justice, 167–178. (2018)
[5] Ernest B. Bax., Women’s Privileges and “Rights”, Social Democrat, Vol.13 no.9, September (1909).
[6] Ernest B. Bax., Feminism and Female Suffrage in New Age, (1910)
[7] Ernest B. Bax., Chapter 5: The “Chivalry” Fake, in The Fraud of Feminism (1913)

Has Chivalry Fled? (Article, May 1912)

The following article provides an example of a ‘threat narrative’ – i.e., in this case the threat that chivalry is departed or dying, thus putting women in danger in a myriad ways.

The ‘Chivalry Is Dead’ trope has been wheeled out by every newspaper and media outlet for the last two centuries, on a weekly basis. If romantic chivalry is taking hundreds of years to die then it must be the slowest death on earth!

However the intent of such articles appears not to report accurately on chivalry’s demise (which doesn’t appear to be happening to any significant degree), but to reinforce protection of chivalry as an article of dogmatic faith; i.e., the more one feels chivalry is under threat, the more one protects and upholds the institution.

To be sure there have occurred alterations in the way gynocentric chivalry is acted out on the contemporary scene, but the basic convention is still very much alive.

The following article appeared in the Evening Post LXXIII, Issue 112, 11 May, 1912:




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