Lancelot and men’s love servitude

By Douglas Galbi

Knight jousting horse medieval Flickr commons

In twelfth-century Europe, did men unquestioningly accept love servitude to women? Today, many men don’t protest men being deprived of all reproductive rights whatsoever. Men say little about acute anti-men gender discrimination in family courts and child custody decisions. Men maintain stoic indifference to being smeared as rapists and being targeted on college campuses for absurd sex regulations. Perhaps men enjoy love servitude to women, relish working as slaves, and cherish being imprisoned. Yet Chrétien de Troyes’s late-twelfth-century Arthurian romance Lancelot hints at a different answer. Men apparently resisted love servitude to women with the same tactics subordinate workers resist orders around the world today.

In Lancelot, a girl rescued the knight Lancelot from his imprisonment atop a tall tower. In popular romance, usually the white knight in shining armor rescues the damsel in distress from imprisonment atop a tall tower. The white knight Lancelot, however, was a manlet. That helps to explain some subsequent events. After the girl rescued Lancelot from the tower, she took him to her favorite retreat, a country house, safe, secluded, and well stocked with provisions. There servants removed Lancelot’s cloths, which were filthy from his languishing in prison. Then:

the girl put him to sleep
In a tall, magnificent bed,
And later gave him a bath
And such wonderful care that I couldn’t
Tell you half if I tried:
She treated him as sweetly
As if he’d been her father.
She brought him back to life,
Completely renewed and restored. [1]

An earlier Latin romance, Apollonius King of Tyre, presented a much different account of a young man-doctor reviving a beautiful young woman. If the girl in Lancelot was receptive and not ugly, a manly knight might have expressed his gratitude to her in a more exciting way. Perhaps she noticed something lacking extension. That would explain why she gave him a bath and treated him as if he were her father.

Urging the girl to rescue him, the manlet Lancelot swore to be her obedient servant. He implicitly promised to be not like other men in servitude to women. Lancelot declared:

I swear I’ll be yours to command
For all the rest of my life

there’ll never be a day
When I won’t do what you ask.
Whatever you ask, if it’s in
My power, will be done — and done
as quickly as I can do it. [2]

Most women who order their man-servant (husband, boyfriend, etc.) to do something resent the response “not today.” Lancelot swore that there would never be such a day. Another standard man-servant response is “later.” Lancelot swore that he would obey the woman’s orders “as quickly as I can.” Lancelot, of course, hedged and qualified with words about his potency. Those reservations about potency probably were relevant when the girl gave him a bath.

From the commanding heights of culture, influential institutions and voices teach men to be subordinate to women. But boys aren’t stupid, and men aren’t stupid, either. Overpowered in social communication, men resort to passive resistance. Such passive resistance, however, isn’t sufficient to advance men’s liberation.

* * * * *

Notes:

[1] Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot ll. 6670-8, from Old French trans. Raffel (1997) p. 210.

[2] Lancelot ll. 6597-8, 6001-5. The ideal of men’s love servitude to women has come to be widely celebrated as courtly love (amour courtois).

Article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Feature image by Spencer Wright

Reference:

Raffel, Burton, trans. 1997. Chrétien de Troyes. Lancelot, the knight of the cart. New Haven: Yale University Press.

The Henpecked Club

The following is an expanded version of an earlier 2014 article. – PW

Many a good man of the Henpecked Club has to be on his good behaviour in order to keep on anything like peaceable footing with his better half – (1860)1

The Henpecked Club is a very real organization, global in scope, that has been in continuous operation for at least the last 200 years. It served the needs of married men who faced domestic abuse from wives, and served young bachelors who might later have to deal with the same issues when they married.

Essentially a project for creating ‘Good Men,’ the Henpecked Club consisted of an international network of meeting-places where men came for support, especially if enduring emotional and physical abuse from wives. In this aspect the club is similar to Al-Anon, the modern support-movement for spouses of alcoholics. The clubs actively encouraged husbands to tolerate wives’ abuse, with the strategy of placating them with any means necessary to moderate abusive behaviours.

The key word there is placate, which the men did in spades.

Henpecked-gClub members, for instance, were expected to take their wives breakfast in bed daily and to do most of the household chores even after a hard day’s work, with the hope that this would place wives in a more amiable frame of mind or – perhaps more accurately – in a less abusive mood. The following are instructions to all members of the club:

  1. That every member of this society shall kindle the fire, set the kettle over, and have the water boiling before he awakes his wife in the morning.
  2. That every member shall take his wife her clothes to bed, after having aired and made them warm and comfortable, or be fined twopence for each offence.
  3. That he shall state to his wife the work he has done, and ask if there is anything more she wishes him to perform before he goes to his work in the morning.
  4. That if any member or members should come home to his dinner, and find his wife gossiping and the dinner not ready, he shall not complain; but cook for himself and family, and something for his wife that will make her comfortable when she does come home, or forfeit threepence.
  5. That if any member or members after their day’s labour come home and find that his wife has not washed the pots, or any other thing he thinks should have been done, he must do the same himself, and not find fault; he must likewise mend the fire, warm the water, sweep the house, mop and scrub the floor, and them make the bed or beds to her satisfaction, or forfeit fourpence.
  6. That when any member shall have finished his week’s work, he shall return home with his wages and give the same to his wife.
  7. That when any member has given the wages to his wife, he shall ask her what she wishes him to do the next, if she wishes him to go to the shop he must go, but if she wish to go herself he must stay at home to clean the house and furniture, and set things in order, that she may be satisfied when she returns, or forfeit sixpence.
  8. That every Sunday morning, each member shall rise at six o’clock, kindle the fire, clean and dress the children (if any) and get them ready for school, before his beloved wife shall be disturbed; but if she call for a pipe of tobacco, a pinch of snuff, or a glass of some nourishing cordial, he shall serve her that instant, or forfeit sixpence.
  9. That peradventure a member’s wife may wish to have some splendid clothing such as a silk velvet bonnet, a fine cap with artificials, a new gown, crinoline, boots, sandals, silk stockings, or any other article of fashionable dress, her husband shall provide for such things out of his over-time money, or forfeit one shilling and eightpence.
  10. That when a member’s wife is sick or in labour, he shall run for the doctor as fast as he can, whether it be night or day, frost or snow, hail or rain, or forfeit two shillings.
  11. That any member refusing to clean the child when it has shitten or bawed (as the term may be), he shall forfeit sixpence.
  12. That every member shall wash the child’s shitten hippins [diapers], when his wife order him or forfeit fourpence.
  13. That every Monday night, each member shall clean his wife and children’s shoes and clogs.
  14. That every Tuesday night each member shall look up the clothes for washing.
  15. That every Wednesday night each member shall look the buttery over, and see whether there be a sufficient quantity of tea, coffee, sugar, butter, bread, cheese, meal, flour, beef or mutton, and if found wanting, he shall provide the same without grumbling.
  16. That every Thursday night, each member shall provide for his loving wife such things as may improve her private happiness, such as cordials or spirits, according to circumstances.
  17. That every Friday night, each member shall look up the stockings, shirts, &c., and such as want mending he shall mend them.
  18. That every member shall pay the strictest observance to the five last-named rules or forfeit threepence for every neglect on conviction before the committee.2

Such instructions, which were typical of most of the Henpecked Clubs, were sometimes couched in self-mocking humor by the members suffering abuse by wives, and this has led to the erroneous assumption that the clubs were merely comedy. But that assumption is incorrect – and perhaps a little driven by denial of women’s violence – for the issue of domestic abuse was a serious concern for the clubs, as were strategies for dealing with same.

Henpecked-cartoon-Yorkshire-Evening-Post-Monday-25-March-1940Men were also advised to absorb any violence or abuse without complaint, stoically tolerating it so as not to provoke or further upset the perpetrator. This, explained club policy, was how one become a ‘good man.’ If the man’s wife continued her abuse after these conciliatory gestures, Club officials would ask the man what he may have unwittingly done to provoke her, followed by “How might you better serve her so she doesn’t become upset again?” The answer to that question was typically for the husband to do more housework, but there was also a novel intervention of ‘rocking a wife to sleep,’ of which I will say more shortly.

Henpecked clubs existed in their hundreds from the 1700s through to contemporary times, and in places as diverse as England, Austria, USA, Germany, France, Australia, Yugoslavia, China, and Japan.

Why haven’t we heard of these clubs – many containing several hundred members struggling to find ways to deal with difficult marriages – in an age when we are so hyper-focused on gender relations? Not even a peep from historians, despite the availability of material about Henpecked Clubs. Why?

Because it doesn’t chime with the image of a ‘dominant patriarchal husband’ proffered in modern interpretations of history.

So in a gesture of redressing history, here is small part of an 1810 book entitled, Some Account of that Ancient and Honourable Society, Vulgarly Denominated The Henpecked Club – showing that the project of creating ‘good men’ has been going on for at least 200 years, and probably more:

“[Husbands] submit to the pleasing bondage of their wives, in as great numbers, and with as much good will, as in any enlightened period of ancient or modern times.

Henpecked-club-title-page“Henpeckicism, which has been graced by ranking as its Members the greater part of the most celebrated men who have appeared since the creation to the present day, whether legislators, philosophers, conquerors, poets or divines, requires no other argument to vindicate and establish its right to the most extensive influence and operation, than the language of every lover, who readily acknowledges himself to be, and swears to continue, the slave of his mistress, before marriage; ergo, he who denies her supremacy, when she becomes his wife, is guilty of the most criminal and unnatural rebellion against womanly authority that God himself have set over him. If other arguments were wanted, however, many might be adduced to prove that the superiority of the female is an ordination of Nature. For example, the noblest or fiercest dog will tamely submit to the snarling and snapping of the most pitiful bitch of the species.”

“For in Henpeckicism there is no distinction: the peerless woman lords it over her vassal even as the peasant: All are equally comprised in the description so happily given by the poet:

“The crouching vassal of the tyrant wife,
“Who has no sixpence but in her possession,
“Who has no will but in her high permission,
“Who must to her his dear friends secrets tell,
“Who dreads a curtain lecture worse than hell”

“The rules observed by the Members of those Meetings were every way adapted to preserve the existence of the institution. Such Members as had the honour of receiving a black eye from their spouses, were entitled to an allowance of 10s. 6d. per week, for so long as the glorious colouring remained: The allowance for two black eyes was £1 1s 0d. In all cases, proof was required that the contusion was received according to the true spirit of genuine Henpeckicism, that is, without resistance or murmuring, according to the example of that inestimable deceased Member, Socrates, who, together with his Lady, is alluded to by the poet in the following lines:

“How oft she scolded in a day he knew,
“How many pisspots at the sage she threw,
“Who took it patiently, and wip’d his head-
Rain follows thunder – that was all he said.”

Such married men as had not the honour to appertain to the Society, were earnestly requested to attend these Meetings, not as Members, but as visitors, in order that they might be induced to unite themselves with it, by witnessing the perfect happiness which it was calculated to confer. For what happiness can be greater than that of belonging to a spouse who takes upon herself the weighty care of regulating not only her own conduct, but that of her husband and the rest of her family; to a spouse who takes the trouble of receiving and paying all money; to a spouse who kindly undertakes the task of judging for her husband (in every occurence) of what is proper for him to do; of what time he should spend in public houses; of how much money he must expend; of what secrets ought to be retained in his or rather her possession, and of what ought to be divulged to the world? In short, she who takes upon herself all anxiety, all trouble, and leaves to her darling husband nothing to do but the delightful task of executing her commands; well remembering that:

“His proper body is not his, but mine,
“For so said Paul, and Paul’s a sound divine.”

The design and ostensible object of the Institution having always been to preserve, and even, if possible, to extend the just and laudable dominion of the fair sex, the several meetings thought it proper, also, to request the attendance of bachelors, not merely with a view that they might be benefited by witnessing such perfect examples of submission, but that those bachelors who had not yet turned their thoughts toward matrimony, or who might have overlooked so great an inducement to enter into the married state as the existence of out Institution, might be induced, as early as possible, to place themselves on a level, in this respect, with most of the greatest men in the world.

“The most common methods by which females attempt the full exercise of that unlimited power which of right belongs to them, is, at a very early period after marriage, to become extremely noisy and abusive, and to make a point of dealing out blame very liberally to their husbands for every action which they commit, whether they are really of the opinion that their conduct has been reprehensible or not. This method is at some times attended by blows. Though a vigorous and persevering course of this treatment may frequently be successful, yet there is considerable danger of resistance from those brutal fellows injudiciously termed men of spirit, a resistance which may be attended with consequences extremely injurious to female countenance. I would strenuously recommend this method be pursued by women, however, with all those effeminate characters who are more afraid of sustaining a drubbing, than eager to vindicate their title to manhood, as would especially advise it to be practiced on the whole tribe of fops or puppies, creatures possessed of no better proofs that they are privileged to rank as men, than that they have two legs and wear breeches.

“Some women pursue a course quite the opposite of this, and with greater success. They at one time load their husbands with caresses, magnify their own affection, and seem to have no other avocation worth their attention but that of convincing them that the sole study of their lives will be to invent fresh blandishments, and to render them in all respects completely happy. At other times, however, they affect a sulkiness of behaviour: a sudden and sullen gloom succeeds their former cheerfulness; they sigh frequently, and burst into floods of tears; nay, they are even seized with swoonings and hysterics.

The wretched husband of such a wife, alarmed at these surprising symptoms, anxiously enquires the cause. She affects to evade the question–he becomes more importunate–she persists in declining to assign a reason–his importunities are redoubled–till he is at last informed, with gentle reproaches and a burst of grief, that he himself is breaking her heart; that the reward of all her love is his neglect, &c. &c. Astonished at a charge which he is wholly unconscious of having merited, he at first endeavours to ridicule what he terms her childish uneasiness. She affects, however, still to doubt–he makes solemn protestations of his innocence; and they are reconciled. In a few days, however, the same farce is played out again, and again, and again, till the unhappy man is at length almost convinced, contrary to the evidence of his own senses, that his conduct has been criminal. Nay, to pacify his afflicted partner, he is even brought to confess his imaginary faults, and to promise amendment in the future. For fear of unintentionally giving offence, he learns to keep a strict watch over his own actions, becomes afraid to take any notice of those of his wife, and is, for the same reason, cautious of contradicting her, lest his cruelty should cause her to swoon; and, in short, becomes a Member of the Henpecked Society.

“Though the great object of our Society is to extend the domination of the female sex, it is far from being its intention to obtain that end by such reprehensible or unhappy means. The only worthy Members of the Society are those who have become so, as much by conviction of its utility, as by entertaining a due sense of the superiority of their wives. All such Members, however, have been treated in a manner very different from the preceding. They have (and let every wife endeavour to follow the same plan) been first brought to acknowledge that their wives, by their care and economy, were better adapted than Themselves to manage their concerns; have been satisfied, by their attentive behaviour, that they were well qualified to govern their families; and have been convinced, by their mildness and moderation, that the authority with which they were invested would never be abused. In such a family, resistance will never be attempted. Commands from the one party will be met by prompt obedience from the other. Perpetual harmony will be established; and correction, when necessary, will be submitted to, according to the fundamental rule of the Society, without murmuring and without resistance.”3

The Good Man’s Wife Pacifier

Henpecked-peace-box

Henpeck’d Club’s Peace Box – Patent Cure for a Cross Wife

The good men of the Henpecked Club were responsible for an interesting innovation: an adult-sized rocking cradle, which was used for soothing nagging wives instead of babies. If you look closely you can see curved feet that allowed the cradle to be gently rocked from side-to-side by the dutiful husband.

The ‘Peace Box’ was invented by a club member named Harry Tap in 1862, and several were manufactured for hire by Henpecked Club members suffering under tempestuous behaviour from wives. If a wife was abusing her husband too much, the husband would entreat his wife to recline in the box, which could be rocked like a child’s cot in order to send the wife to sleep. While she was sleeping the husband would perform all the household chores then awaken his wife who would hopefully have calmed down.

With those juicy historical morsels now in the open, we seem to have come full circle, back to the future. Here we remain, with hat in hand, beseeching Dear Woman for forgiveness for having displeased her, hoping that she will notice how hard we are trying to be good men.

You may at this point be feeling nauseous in the knowledge that men have been kowtowing to such abuse for hundreds if not thousands of years, and yet we’re still being asked to to Take It Like A Man™, Man Up™, and be Good Men™. If you are feeling that way you are not alone, and with the growing army of men and women in the MHRM you can help bring an end to such appalling gynocentric customs.

SOURCES:

[1] Huddersfield Chronicle – Saturday 11 August 1860
[2] This list of duties was in use at the Rochdale chapter of the club and is a condensed version of an earlier official document circulated among clubs: New Rules and Orders Reformation Act (1840)
[3] Some Account of that Ancient and Honourable Society, Vulgarly Denominated The Henpecked Club (1810)

SEE ALSO: Fire-poker princesses: a snapshot of female perpetrated IPV in nineteenth-century England

A comment on TFM’s ‘traditionalism cycle theory’

Authors note: The below article was taken as a base commentary and expanded by August Løvenskiolds HERE. While I do not agree with all the expanded points made by August, I have added his article to this website for the purpose of discussion. – PW

_____________________

The following is a brief comment on Turd Flinging Monkey’s theory referred to as the ‘traditionalism cycle’ appearing in major civilizations. The cycle goes something like this:

Patriarchal traditionalism → gynocentric traditionalism → progressive gynocentrism → collapse.

The theory is a reasonable one; societies start out as patriarchally controlled, then move through traditional and progressive forms of gynocentrism before collapsing under their own weight. The theory says that gynocentrism escalates with the advent of abundance (if and when abundance exists in a given culture).

What I appreciate about TFM’s theory is that he did some actual historical research to back it up – something sorely lacking in the discussion of the roots of gynocentrism. Instead of actual research we frequently see a pull-it-out-of-your-ass histories, or alternatively dismissive appeals to biology – “it’s all in the genes.”

The pull-it-out-of-your-ass kind of history is based on half-guesses and assumptions with little to no evidence – except perhaps references to items like Lysistrata, a play; Helen of Troy, a myth, religious tales, fairy tales, and other fantasy sources – ie. it’s a huge error to assume myths and fables mirror real life. Have you ever seen a centaur… surely the classical depictions of centaurs must have mirrored real creatures and behaviors or they wouldn’t have mentioned it?! Any thinking person will recognize the problem; relying on ancient mythologies is akin to having future zoologists base the history of equine evolution on episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Same goes for reductive biological explanations. Aside from the laziness of such approaches, the error in over-emphasizing biology is that biology does not exist, or rather doesn’t exist as a thing-in-itself. Where you see biology you will always see a facilitating environment shaping it.

Fortunately, TFM breaks with the catalogue of errors and is trying to keep it fact based and real.

With that said there are some major, unspoken nuances that I’d like to add to the conversation. The first is that there are degrees of gynocentric culture in both its traditional and progressive forms. Gynocentric societies are not cookie-cutter one size for all. Like hurricane categories with wind strengths of one to five, gynocentric culture can be imagined in a similar way – as differing in reach and packing winds anywhere from destructive to catastrophic.

Like hurricanes, which become more intense depending on a confluence of atmospheric pressure, humidity, and wind direction, likewise the intensity of a given gynocentric culture rests on multiple factors. TFM has named one of them in the video below: abundance. This is a good start, one that, in isolation from other factors, can definitely lead to a (lets call it) ‘category one’ gynocentric culture. But as we add more contributing factors the gynocentrism gets more pervasive and more destructive – factors like male to female population ratio; aristocratic conventions influencing the masses; the presence of military campaigns; and the strength and structure of cultural narratives perpetuating the sentiment (etc.). As these and many other factors converge the strength of gynocentric culture grows potentially up to a ‘category five’ such as was born in the Middle Ages with the mother of all gynocentric cultures that has spanned over 800 yrs and been imported from Europe to the rest of the world.

I don’t intend to give an exhaustive reply here but will end with a general comment about our present culture. At this point I’m still assuming the gynocentric culture birthed in medieval Europe is unprecedented in the long path of history – it was only there, and then that the combination of romantic chivalry and courtly love were born, along with a bunch of other contributing factors that made this gynocentric revolution the mother of them all. But there’s no doubt there have occurred smaller, less intense manifestations of gynocentric culture throughout history along the lines TFM suggests.

John Stuart Mill on chivalry

In 1869 John Stuart Mill published his gynocentric work The Subjection of Women (SOW), stating that while people everywhere were being freed from social roles, women remained tethered to theirs, stating: “Men hold women in subjection by representing to them meekness, submissiveness, and resignation of all individual will into the hands of a man, as an essential part of sexual attractiveness.” (SOW, p. 272). Ironically, Mill sympathizes with women’s subjection while lauding the male chivalry that women both inspired and were recipients of. Mill contends that male chivalry, however, was not always reliable and thus must give way to a more reliable, State-enforced protection and benevolence toward women.

In light of Mill’s gynocentrism, Ernest Belfort Bax published an incisive rejoinder to the book pointing out the greater injustices faced by men.

The following is a quote from Mill’s venerated SOW – PW

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The moral influence of women: chivalry

The Proposal. John Pettie, R.A. (1839-1893). Oil On Canvas, 1869.
The other mode in which the effect of women’s opinion has been conspicuous is by giving a powerful stimulus to those qualities in men which, not being themselves trained in, it was necessary for them that they should find in their protectors. Courage, and the military virtues generally, have at all times been greatly indebted to the desire which men felt of being admired by women: and the stimulus reaches far beyond this one class of eminent qualities, since, by a very natural effect of their position, the best passport to the admiration and favour of women has always been to be thought highly of by men.

From the combination of the two kinds of moral influence thus exercised by women, arose the spirit of chivalry: the peculiarity of which is to aim at combining the highest standard of the warlike qualities with the cultivation of a totally different class of virtues – those of gentleness, generosity, and self-abnegation towards the non-military and defenseless classes generally, and a special submission and worship directed towards women; who were distinguished from the other defenceless classes by the high rewards which they had it in their power voluntarily to bestow on those who endeavoured to earn their favour, instead of extorting their subjection.

Though the practice of chivalry fell even more sadly short of its theoretic standard than practice generally falls below theory, it remains one of the most precious monuments of the moral history of our race; as a remarkable instance of a concerted and organised attempt by a most disorganised and distracted society, to raise up and carry into practice a moral ideal greatly in advance of its social condition and institutions; so much so as to have been completely frustrated in the main object, yet never entirely inefficacious, and which has left a most sensible, and for the most part a highly valuable impress on the ideas and feelings of all subsequent times.

The chivalrous ideal is the acme of the influence of women’s sentiments on the moral cultivation of mankind: and if women are to remain in their subordinate situation, it were greatly to be lamented that the chivalrous standard should have passed away, for it is the only one at all capable of mitigating the demoralising influences of that position. But the changes in the general state of the species rendered inevitable the substitution of a totally different ideal of morality for the chivalrous one.

Chivalry was the attempt to infuse moral elements into a state of society in which everything depended for good or evil on individual prowess, under the softening influences of individual delicacy and generosity. In modern societies, all things, even in the military department of affairs, are decided, not by individual effort, but by the combined operations of numbers; while the main occupation of society has changed from fighting to business, from military to industrial life. The exigencies of the new life are no more exclusive of the virtues of generosity than those of the old, but it no longer entirely depends on them.

The main foundations of the moral life of modern times must be justice and prudence; the respect of each for the rights of every other, and the ability of each to take care of himself. Chivalry left without legal check all those forms of wrong which reigned unpunished throughout society; it only encouraged a few to do right in preference to wrong, by the direction it gave to the instruments of praise and admiration. But the real dependence of morality must always be upon its penal sanctions – its power to deter from evil. The security of society cannot rest on merely rendering honour to right, a motive so comparatively weak in all but a few, and which on very many does not operate at all.

Modern society is able to repress wrong through all departments of life, by a fit exertion of the superior strength which civilisation has given it, and thus to render the existence of the weaker members of society (no longer defenseless but protected by law) tolerable to them, without reliance on the chivalrous feelings of those who are in a position to tyrannise. The beauties and graces of the chivalrous character are still what they were, but the rights of the weak, and the general comfort of human life, now rest on a far surer and steadier support; or rather, they do so in every relation of life except the conjugal.

A Privileged and Pampered Sex?

The following Letter To The editor of Reynolds Newspaper in 1896 provides a snapshot of inequity before the law. Has anything changed? Well, no, it hasn’t. Each new generation of men assumes they are the very first to witness gynocentric forces, a delusion showing why it’s important for men to break past the historical amnesia and highlight gynocentrism’s longevity so that our sons and their sons don’t continue to get blindsided. – PW

__________________

A Privileged and Pampered Sex

TO THE EDITOR OF REYNOLDS NEWSPAPER

1896- Women a priviledged and Pampered Sex - Reynolds's Newspaper - Sunday 29 November 1896SIR,–A paragraph in your issue of the week before last stated that oakum-picking as a prison task had been abolished for women and the amusement of dressing dolls substituted. This is an interesting illustration of the way we are going at present, and gives cause to some reflection as to the rate at which a sex aristocracy is being established in our midst. While the inhumanity of our English prison system, in so far as it affects men, stands out as a disgrace to the age in the eyes of all Europe, houses of correction for female convicts are being converted into agreeable boudoirs and pleasant lounges.

A case in the police court before Sir John Bridge two or three weeks ago further brings into relief the sort of privilege and pampering accorded to one sex at the expense of the other. A woman of the town forced herself upon a young man going home at night and seized hold of his arm. On his shaking her off, the report says “she fell to the ground” (a well-known dodge). Sir John Bridge, on hearing the evidence, was bound to acquit the defendant, but added a rider to his judgement, advising the unfortunate man who had been first assaulted and then had a false charge brought against him, to compensate the woman with half-a-sovereign! Had some luckless male beggar (the brother, let us suppose, of the prosecutrix in this case), after having seized hold of a gentleman’s arm and been shaken off, “fallen to the ground,” and then prosecuted the said gentleman for assault, what would Sir John Bridge or any other Magistrate have said? Would he have suggested 10s. compensation or would he have given him ten weeks? I leave the reader to judge. But the several remarks with which Sir John accompanied his decision are especially noteworthy. He said in effect that “however badly these women behaved” the man ought not to resist them. In fact, the law of self-defence is to be suspended wherever females are the aggressors. This monstrous opinion is on par with the constant iteration in the present day of the “manly” duty of non-resistance and passive obedience to female domination.

We want, sir, a little of the sturdy, healthy, good sense of our ancestors to revisit the glimpses of the moon and speak out against these maudlin, whining, sentimentalisms, and tell us that there are occasions when women, despite the blithering weakness on which they sometimes presume, deserve as severe punishment in their own and the common interest as any male human being who grossly misbehaves himself. That anything in petticoats may ride roughshod over every requirement of decency, justice, or fair-play with impunity is a new doctrine, being assiduously preached, sauced with whimpering appeals to men’s chivalry, gallantry, and the rest of it. Woman’s “weakness” is now fast becoming as oppressive an engine of tyranny and inequality as exists in this or any other country. For though the rich man can sometimes buy off his tormentor, the poor man is handed over by the law, gagged and bound, to the caprices of any vile shrew whom in an evil moment for him he may have made his wife.

I am personally in favour of the abolition of corporal punishment, as I am of existing prison inhumanities, for both sexes, but the snivelling sentiment which exempts females on the ground of sex from every disagreeable consequence of their actions, only strengthens on the one side every abuse which it touches on the other. Yet we are continuously having the din of the “women’s rights” agitation in our ears. I think it is time we gave a little attention to men’s rights, and equality between the sexes from the male point of view.–Yours, &c.,

A MANLY PROTESTOR

The Dream of Heroism and Love – by Johan Huizinga

The following are excerpts from J. Huizinga’s 1924 book The Waning of The Middle Ages, chapter V: The Dream of Heroism and Love. – PW

The knight and his lady, that is to say, the hero who serves for love, this is the primary and invariable motif from which erotic fantasy will always start. It is sensuality transformed into the craving for self-sacrifice, into the desire of the male to show his courage, to incur danger, to be strong, to suffer and to bleed before his lady-love.

From the moment when the dream of heroism through love has intoxicated the yearning heart, fantasy grows and overflows. The first simple theme is soon left behind, the soul thirsts for new fancies, and passion colours the dream of suffering and of renunciation. The man will not be content merely to suffer, he will want to save from danger, or from suffering, the object of his desire. A more vehement stimulus is added to the primary motif: its chief feature will be that of defending imperilled virginity—in other words, that of ousting the rival. This, then, is the essential theme of chivalrous love poetry : the young hero, delivering the virgin. The sexual motif is always behind it, even when the aggressor is only an artless dragon; a glance at Burne-Jones’s famous picture suffices to prove it.

One is surprised that comparative mythology should have looked so indefatigably to meteorological phenomena for the explanation of such an immediate and perpetual motif as the deliverance of the virgin, which is the oldest of literary motifs, and one which can never grow antiquated. It may from time to time become stale from over-much repetition, and yet it will reappear, adapting itself to all times and surroundings. New romantic types will arise, just as the cowboy has succeeded the corsair.

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Nowhere does the erotic element of the tournament appear more clearly than in the custom of the knight’s wearing the veil or the dress of his lady. In Perceforest we read how the lady spectators of the combat take off their finery, one article after another, to throw them to the knights in the lists. At the end of the fight they are bareheaded and without sleeves. A poem of the thirteenth century, the work of a Picard or a Hainault minstrel, entitled Des trois Chevaliers et del Chainse,1 has worked out this motif in all its force. The wife of a nobleman of great liberality, but not very fond of fighting, sends her shirt to three knights who serve her for love, that one of them at the tournament which her husband is going to give may wear it as a coat-armour, without any mail underneath. The first and the second knights excuse themselves. The third, who is poor, takes the shirt in his arms at night, and kisses it passionately. He appears at the tournament, dressed in the shirt and without a coat of mail; he is grievously wounded, the shirt, stained with his blood, is torn. Then his extraordinary bravery is perceived and he is awarded the prize. The lady gives him her heart. The lover asks something in his turn. He sends back the garment, all blood-stained, to the lady, that she may wear it over her gown at the meal which is to conclude the feast. She embraces it tenderly and shows herself dressed in the shirt as the knight had demanded. The majority of those present blame her, the husband is confounded, and the minstrel winds up by asking the question : Which of the two lovers sacrificed most for the sake of the other?

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The warlike sports of the Middle Ages differ from Greek and modern athletics by being far less simple and natural. Pride, honour, love and art give additional stimulus to the competition itself. Overloaded with pomp and decoration, full of heroic fancy, they serve to express romantic needs too strong for mere literature to satisfy. The realities of court life or a military career offered too little opportunity for the fine make-belief of heroism and love, which rilled the soul. So they had to be acted. The staging of the tournament, therefore, had to be that of romance ; that is to say, the imaginary world of Arthur, where the fancy of a fairy-tale was enhanced by the sentimentality of courtly love.

Note:

[1] Of the three knights and the shirt.

How to tame men – gynocentrism style

Horses, dogs and men have one thing in common; they need training in order to shed their wild ways and become civilized. They need to be taught when to walk, run, sit, shit, play, work and, of course, when to cease fighting and attempting rape.

Women will do this for them.

From the pony club to the dog obedience class, and all the way through to wedding and relationship-advice magazines teaching “How to get him to do xyz,” – women dominate the field of animal training.

Starting in childhood, girls are educated in the Pavlovian school of human interactions, learning sexual manipulation, shaming and relational aggression as powerful techniques that if properly applied will help transform men, and even the baddest of badboys, into proverbial Good Men.™ Is it any wonder then that when a woman sees a badboy she sees a creature with ‘train me’ written across his forehead, a task for which her whole life has been but a preparation….. a lady won’t tolerate a feral animal wandering through the gynosphere, especially a handsome one, when she has the wherewithal to civilize him.

Lets take a little excursion through the history of taming.

Ancient Greece

Marriage is a particularly useful method by which men are tamed, so it’s no surprise that the institution has been around for thousands of years. Hera, the Ancient Greek goddess of marriage was nicknamed ‘The Tamer.’ She tamed horses, men and heroes and in some places was recognized as the tamer of the seasons, of nature, or of the universe itself.

Hera’s goal was to limit wildness and freedom by placing all creatures in service of civilized society. Her main tools-for-taming were the entrapment of men and women in marriage, the use of her own sexuality as an enticement for conformity, shaming, and aggressive punishment of any rebellious behaviours – even for her lordly husband Zeus: “Hera’s cruel rage tamed him.”1

Hera was worshipped as ‘Goddess of the yoke,’ an enslaving device symbolizing her desire to make utilities out of beasts and men. She yoked obedient men to wives, and yoked heroes to an inevitable death through their performance of labours that bring betterment to women and society.

In the Illiad Hera is said to tame heroes through death, not marriage. Death through service to others was considered -and is still considered- something appropriate for males and for their own good. In The Myth of Male Power Warren Farrell recounts a Greek story which illustrates the problem:

The Hero As Slave:

Yoke-commons
Once upon a time, a mother who wanted to see the beautiful statue of Hera had no oxes or horses to carry her there. But she did have two sons. And the sons wanted more than anything to make their mother’s wish come true. They volunteered to yoke themselves to a cart and take her over the mountains in the scorching heat to the faraway village of Argos, the home of the statue of Hera (the wife of Zeus). Upon their arrival in Argos, the sons were cheered and statues (that can be found to this day) were built in their honor. Their mother prayed that Hera give her sons the best gift in her power. Hera did that. The boys died. The traditional interpretation? The best thing that can happen to a man is to die at the height of his glory and power. Yet had this been a myth of two daughters who had substituted themselves for oxen to carry their father somewhere, would we have interpreted the daughters’ deaths as proof that the best thing that can happen to a woman is to die at the height of her glory and power? The statues and cheers can be seen as bribes for the sons to value their lives less than their mother’s request to view a statue. The fact that the statue was of Hera, the queen of the Olympian gods and protector of married women is symbolic. The sons’ sacrifice symbolized the mandate for men to become strong enough to serve the needs of mothers and marriage, and to be willing to call it glory if they died in the process. Which is why the name Hercules means “for the glory of Hera”.2

Yes these are myths, but on this topic life had a way of imitating art. Those who wrote the stories were drawing on experience to some extent, and married couples re-enacted the selfsame rituals of Hera and Zeus. In the marriage month (Gamelion ) the mythical marriage of Hera and Zeus was reenacted and celebrated with public festivities, a time when many couples would get married in imitation of the divine couple. On these occasions prayers and offerings were given to Hera, and the bride would pledge fidelity to extending Hera’s dominion on earth.

Women of Ancient Greece were considered, along with men, to be uncivilized and in need of taming for the greater good of society. Both sexes required a reconstruction in character and a submission to social responsibilities. Such was also the case in the Near East where an emerging Christian culture claimed that men and women were made of flawed stuff; women were born in original sin with Eve, sinful to the core, and were encouraged to aspire to the status of the holy and pure Virgin Mary. Likewise men were born in original sin and invited to improve their condition with an de imitatione Christi, an imitation of Christ in order to bleach the stains from their imperfect souls.

While men and women in ancient times possessed equality in the depravity stakes, this was all to change in the Middle ages.

Middle Ages

Fast forward to medieval times and we see a continuation of the desire to civilize human behaviour, except this time women are exempt from the taming to which the classical age subjected both sexes. By dint of a peculiar intersection of social beliefs, women came to be viewed as perfected from birth – due largely to the fact that worship of the Virgin Mary became amplified in the eleventh century and, by extension, the reverence bestowed upon the Virgin was extended to the female sex in general. As Mary was perfect, so too became women.

No longer like the Biblical Eve striving to imitate the Mother of Christ, woman becomes Mary’s counterpart on earth, and thus the cult of the “lady” is born as a mirror of the cult of the Virgin. Men for their part remain in a thoroughly fallen state like Adam while striving to imitate Jesus – knowing full well they will fall short of the goal. To enjoy the company of a lady a man must now prove himself worthy of her and so advance upward, step by step, toward a culminating union at her level; because everything noble and virtuous, everything that makes life worth living, proceeds from women, who are even described as the source of goodness itself.3

Mediaeval image of a woman leading a man with a leash or halter.

Mediaeval image of a woman leading a man with a leash or halter.

With the advent of women becoming men’s moral superiors, it’s here that men become the servants of women proper. It’s here also that the reciprocal service previously entertained between the sexes begins its gradual decline in favour of gynocentrism. As the faithful owed obeisance to The Virgin, henceforth man must render his obeisance to the Virgin’s earthly counterparts. Over the subsequent 100 years women even came to be viewed through the lens of the feudal contract whereby she became his overlord (midons ), and he the vassal in dutiful service. It would be woman whose role it became to civilize the depraved, fallen creature called man by teaching him the gynocentric virtues of chivalry and courtly love.

Contemporary attitudes

Contemporary perspectives about civilizing males are divided between two superficially opposed camps – traditionalist women, and progressive feminists. I say superficially opposed because when the goals of both groups are compared they amount to exactly the same thing: the belief that morally superior women should enculture men into the arts of chivalry and gentlemanliness for the benefit of women.

Lifelong feminist and former National Organization for Women member, Tammy Bruce, has articulated what she feels is the time-honoured power of women; of being morally superior to men which includes the feminist responsibility to civilizing men’s animalistic tendencies:

Nothing new under the sun, hey?

Another feminist, Christina Hoff-Sommers agrees with this idea that men need to be civilized with chivalric manners, a belief she outlined in an interview with Emily Esfahani Smith, where she said, “Masculinity with morality and civility is a very powerful force for good. But masculinity without these virtues is dangerous—even lethal.” “Chivalry is grounded in a fundamental reality that defines the relationship between the sexes,” explained Sommers, “and given that most men are physically stronger than most women, men can overpower women at any time to get what they want.” “If women give up on chivalry, it will be gone,” continued Sommers. “If boys can get away with being boorish, they will, happily. Women will pay the price.”4

Sommers elaborates her view in a 2009 interview with Ben Domenech:

Christina Hoff-Sommers: Codes of gallantry and civility that developed over the centuries have served women very well. We badly need more of that male gallantry, but I hasten to say it’s a reciprocal system. If males are going to be gallant then women also have a role to play. So today I think both sexes are remiss in nurturing this system.

Ben Domenech: What in this era of post feminism that we live in today relationally would be the possible incentive for any man to be gallant when there doesn’t seem to be any
particular reason that he has to be in order to function within today’s relationship world?

Christina Hoff-Sommers: It’s an interesting question because one of the things you find today is that most young men are gallant, and they are respectful, at least they are struggling to be. When I interview young men I ask them if they think it’s a good thing to be a gentleman and almost all of them say yes- that word gentleman has a positive resonance with young men. Now, do they know how to be gentlemen, do they know what it entails? Many do not. And same with some young women, they are not necessarily behaving like ladies. So there’s a lot of misunderstanding and lack of, perhaps, motivation. But it’s still alive in people. I think still on a typical date a young man would pay for his date – it doesn’t always happen in which case a girl would be resentful, and I can understand that…. These are gestures, I’m talking about certain gestures of respect – they need to be there and I think most women want them and I think men do too.

Ben Domenech: So why is that important – and I don’t just mean that in the sense of continuing a relationship but in the larger sense of the term, and this is a frame that I have to ask you about: if the incentive there is a relationship that is going to lead to something, does it matter that the something is beyond the typical aspirations of today’s men and women which seems to be more along the lines of a sex based relationship as opposed to one that actually has a longer term value beyond that prognosis.

Christina Hoff-Sommers: I think human beings at some point in their lives want something beyond a sex based relation. If you are going to build a relationship with someone it has been the case that women are going to be more likely to want to stay home and take care of the children, or certainly be more focused on that than the men, and I don’t see that changing.

Ben Domenech: As a single dating male in today’s environment there’s a much lower bar that they have to clear, frankly, in order to bounce around the relationship scene with a good deal of happiness, at least in the temporary sense.

Christina Hoff-Sommers: Oh I have to agree, and I think in a way women sort of undid the social contract with men and released them from all the constraints. And we pay the price.5

For the sake of argument, and in order to demonstrate that progressive gynocentrism and traditionalist gynocentrism are both chasing male-only chivalry, here is a recent ‘tradition-advocating’ article by antifeminist Patrice Lewis that appears strikingly similar to the progressive model offered above by Bruce and Hoff-Sommers:

I admire men.

Specifically, I admire men who are controlled, confident and who fulfill their biological destiny as protectors and providers. Men are essential for training boys to tame the testosterone and channel their natural strengths and aggressiveness in appropriate ways. Trained men are, in the words of columnist Dennis Prager, the glory of civilization. (It goes without saying that untrained men are its scourge, but that’s another column.)

Couple role playing with dog leashMen – trained, manly men – are necessary for a balanced society. They take on the tough ugly hard jobs women can’t or won’t do. They mine our coal and fight our fires and protect our shores and fix our engines and rescue our butts when we’re in danger. They truck our goods and clean our pipes and wire our homes. They plow fields and grow food. They butcher livestock so we can buy meat in tidy sanitized packages in the grocery store and pretend it never came from a cow.

I’m not saying women can’t be found in those fields; but let’s be honest: The vast majority of workers in hard, dangerous, dirty and heavy fields are men. They deserve our praise and gratitude.

Which is why I get so ticked off when feminists belittle men. These kinds of women don’t admire manly men who protect and provide. Feminists don’t want warriors; they want servants who will kowtow to their emotions and feeeeeeelings. They prefer emasculated androgynous guys who wouldn’t know one end of a rifle from the other. Guys who watch chick flicks with them. Guys who know what temperature to wash the dainties. Guys who are preoccupied with “social justice” and bringing their carbon footprint down to zero.6

Lewis’s argument above that boys are juicing with testosterone and need “taming” reveals an unbroken, and mythical conception of men stemming from ancient times – and it is wrong. Men are not born as wild animals in a testosterone-fuelled psychosis waiting to tear people limb from limb. We need not buy our sons punching bags nor insert them into football training from 2 years of age to channel some androgen-fuelled chaos (doing it for fun, though, is another reason). The claim that men are unclean, bestial creatures in need of taming is not only false – it is extreme misandry and it needs to be challenged head on with each bigot who perpetuates it.

The above survey of man-taming by women spanning all the way from Ancient Greece, and through progressive feminism to regressive traditionalism, shows what we are up against. Nothing whatsoever has changed; chivalric servitude of men, trained into them by women (yes and by men), remains the order of the day. The one timeless voice echoing through all this is the monomyth of the animal-trainer – womankind and her pussy whip.

With the continuing encouragement of women to be slavemasters, and their enthusiasm to take on the role, is it any surprise that the majority of horse and dog training schools – obedience classes – are peopled by women? That so many little girls desire to possess their own pony is a no-brainer, and it’s time we woke up to what this expensive little pastime symbolizes – the racing of horses may be the sport of Kings, but training of ponies is for the delight of princesses.

In a modern ‘enlightened’ society it’s high time to ditch the idea that males, and only males, need taming. Lets instead rely on men’s natural human empathy, a thing that exists in both sexes before the training begins. If you see a baby boy begin crying after he hears another baby crying nearby, it’s a demonstration of empathy that is there from the start. Like girls, boys develop mirror neurons which predispose them to be caring as they develop – we don’t need to see them as heartless beasts in need of taming, curtailing or genitally maiming. So let’s cease with the gynocentric boot-camp for males; they are already trained from the start by their own good natures – yes, men are good.

Sources:

[1] Joan O’Brien, ‘The Tamer of Heroes and Horses,’ Chapter 6E in The Transformation of Hera, Rowman and Littlefield, (1993)
[2] Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power, Simon and Schuster, (1993)
[3] Irving Singer, Love: Courtly and Romatic, UCP, 1984
[4] Emily Esfahani Smith, ‘Let’s Give Chivalry Another Chance’ The Atlantic, Dec 10 2012
[5] Interview with Christina Hoff-Sommers, “The Acculturated Podcast: Ladies and Gentlemen” 2009
[6] Patrice Lewis, ‘Feminism Has Slain Our Protectors,’ WND, 09/12/2014