there a Feminine Side to Chivarly?
is important here to be direct. There is no "feminine side"
to chivalry. The warrior code was designed for men alone.
That's not to say that women cannot
honor what chivalry espouses, or partake in a personal quest of
self-development. When women do this, it becomes their own code
of behavior, and is not chivalry per se.
A man cannot give physical birth to
a child. That's something women do that men cannot. A woman cannot,
however, give birth to a man. Men have to do this
for themselves. A woman can certainly helpbut the spiritual
birth of a man comes from his own striving. Chivalry provides the
blueprint to make this happen. It was meant to build men, not women.
This exclusivity is important to the rite-of-passage that knighthood
I am not writing this as a rejection
of women. They have my complete and utter respect. If women think
about the developmental function of chivalry and how important it
is to the male psyche, they will understand. Can a woman become
a knight errant? I don't see why not. That being said, whatever
philosophy or code they follow should be defined by women so that
it meets their own psychological needs, which are somewhat different
from men's. In this way they can claim full ownership, and I will
honor their code as much as I do chivalry. A woman who follows the
principles of chivalry, no matter what she calls it,
deserves such honor.
But, in my opinion, it is not
chivalry, which is of, by and for men.
The reason I am saying this is to
delineate what I consider a powerful psychological error. I believe
there is no feminine side to men, as popular psychology
would convince us. There is no inner woman that needs to be nurtured.
Before continuing, I respectfully
bow to the pioneering authorities who formulated these archetypal
ideas. They are invaluable to understanding the human psyche, and
reveal much truth. I differ with them on just one conclusion, that
the gentler aspects of men should be referred to as the"feminine
side" to our personality. This can be more of a barrier than
When a man feels compassion and tenderness,
when he cuddles a child, or cries in sadness, this should not be
viewed as the remnant of some hidden female counterpart. These are
male feelingsand should be recognized as such. It should be
no surprise that men can be loving, attentive, gentle, and all the
rest, and still be 100% men. Just because a man hesitates to reveal
his emotions does not mean he doesn't feel them.
I strongly object to anyone telling
me that my sensitivities spring from some other source than who
I am as a man. There is no inner woman peeking out. That these qualities
may reflect similar qualities of women means nothing. Both genders
breathe to live and eat when hungry. Personal attributes do not
have to be dictated according to gender.
When a woman is strong and honorable,
she is not exhibiting male characteristics. She is
who she is, a strong and noble woman! She does not need an inner
man to be so.
Men, as men, are by nature loving
and sensitive! The degree to which people reveal these attributes
is entirely personal. It does not infer the influence of another
gender living inside them. People are complex and multifaceted.
We are what we are. That the genders have a lot in common should
be no surprise.
If we expect men to become more gentle
by embracing their "feminine side," most will not. They
will consider it a threat to their masculinity. It is telling them
that some very admirable personal qualities are not inherent to
being a male. They belong to women, and we have to somehow become
or get in touch with some nonexistent women in order to have them.
This is nonsense. It not only slights men for being less than they
are, it makes many of their natural feelings taboo.
Chivalry encourages men to recognize
the gentler qualities of manhood, because without them we are incompletenot
because we are basically some hermaphroditic hybrid of gender-related
When I treat my wife with tenderness,
I am more of a three-dimensional man than someone incapable of doing
so (preferably with his own wife). There is nothing feminine
about it. It is time that men take ownership of their own depth
of feeling. The movie industry continually portrays men who are
two-dimensional, and try to convince us that they are real men.
What could be more obscene? One does not become a man by embracing
the non-communicative, dysfunctional limitations of fictional characters
like Dirty Harry. Unfortunately, our culture has bought into
this to a certain extent. What other popular images do we have to
A man who is dominantly harsh and
unfeeling has something broken in his personality. What is missing
is not an inner woman. It is the capacity to express his own finer
qualities as a man.
Chivalry represents a larger picture
of manhood. It teaches us to be comfortable as men by recognizing
and including those qualities which we all have. Male courtesy is
different from that of women, because it comes from a male perspective.
It is not imitating the civility of women. It is expressing the
strong and powerful civility of men.
Virtues are not divided according
to gender. They are just expressed differently. Within a given gender
they are expressed according to the individuals who express them.
is no slight to women that chivalry identifies male virtues.
This does not in any way infer that the same virtues cannot belong
to women. After all, we are talking about human virtues.
Both men and women can own them in abundance. Chivalry merely shows
men how to do that on their own terms.