[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

FROM THE INTRODUCTION

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?

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 and culture 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 was able to conclude, “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.

References:

[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)

The allure of chivalry

Gift-Giving

Is benevolent sexism (aka chivalry) attractive to women? According to a new study the answer is, perhaps unsurprisingly, yes.

According to a 2013 study on benevolent sexism by Matthew D. Hammond of the University of Auckland1 a high sense of entitlement disposes women to endorse chivalric customs, such as that women need to be protected, cared for and pampered by males.

Hammond and his colleagues had more than 4,400 men and women complete psychological evaluations to measure their sense of entitlement and adherence to sexist beliefs about women. The beliefs included statements such as, “Women should be cherished and protected by men” and “Women, compared to men, tend to have a superior moral sensibility.”2 This group of individuals was tested again one year later. The researchers found a sense of entitlement in women was associated with stronger endorsement of benevolent sexism. Women who believed they deserved more out of life (and who likely received more out of life) were more likely to endorse benevolent sexist beliefs and their adherence to these beliefs increased over time. The association between a sense of entitlement in men and endorsement of benevolent sexism was weak, by contrast, and did not increase over time.

What these findings provide is evidence that female-benefiting sexism practiced by women is responsible for sexist attitudes toward their own gender, as well as toward men — attitudes which contribute more broadly to the maintenance of gender inequality.

Narcissism relies upon chivalry

In the study narcissistic traits are underlined as the basis of women’s motivation to garner resource-attainments and self-enhancements via the generosity of male chivalry. Some of the core features of narcissism include an inflated sense of self-worth; need for praise, admiration, and social status; an undeserved sense of entitlement; a sense that one deserves nice things; and a belief in one’s superior intelligence and beauty – all without a commensurate level of validity or deservedness. A woman (or man) with such a disposition generally displays efforts to gain esteem, status, and resources by fair means or foul, including by feigning charm, confidence, and an energetic approach to social interactions, and she takes personal responsibility for all successes, while attributing all personal failures to external sources. Narcissistic traits ensure that the individual will act selfishly to secure material gains even when it means exploiting others, and those practicing benevolent sexism tend to encourage such behaviour. According to the authors:

“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)… In contrast to the overt benefits that benevolent sexism promises women, men’s endorsement of benevolent sexism reflects making sacrifices for women by relinquishing power in the relationship domain and providing for and protecting their partners (Glick & Fiske, 1996). Moreover, although benevolent sexism portrays men as ‘‘gallant protectors’’ (Glick & Fiske, 2001), it does not emphasize men’s superiority over women or cast men as deserving of praise and provision.” 3

Judging by the above study women’s expectation of chivalric treatment has altered little over the course of the last 800 years since chivalric responsibitities were first instituted. We can take, for example, the voices of two women from history who give voice to the findings of the study; the first written by female author Lucrezia Marinella in 1600:

“Women are honored everywhere with the use of ornaments that greatly surpass men’s, as can be observed. 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 aristotlebecause of her natural dignity and excellence, and for the man to be less so, like a servant or beast born to serve her.”

Or this from another woman Modesta Pozzo in 1590:

“For don’t we see that men’s rightful task is to go out to work and wear themselves out trying to accumulate wealth, as though they were our factors or stewards, so that we can remain at home like the lady of the house directing their work and enjoying the profit of their labors? That, if you like, is the reason why men are naturally stronger and more robust than us — they need to be, so they can put up with the hard labor they must endure in our service.”

 
Sources:

[1] Matthew D. Hammond, Chris G. Sibley, and Nickola C. Overall, The Allure of Sexism: Psychological Entitlement Fosters Women’s Endorsement of Benevolent Sexism Over Time
[2] Eric W. Dolan, Self-entitled women are more likely to endorse benevolent sexism, study finds
[3] Matthew D. Hammond, Chris G. Sibley, and Nickola C. Overall [Ibid]
[4] Ruth Styles, The fickle face of feminism: Women are fine with sexism… as long as it benefits them
[5] Lucrezia Marinella: gynocentrism in 1600
[6] Modesta Pozzo: gynocentrism in 1590