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Is there a Feminine Side to Chivarly?

It 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 help—but 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 entails.
     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 a help.
     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 feelings—and 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 incomplete—not because we are basically some hermaphroditic hybrid of gender-related tendencies.
     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 emulate?
     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.
It 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.


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