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Gender Problems & Romantic Love

I have often heard comments that Chivalry-Now should be considered as much of a female ethic as it is male. Some suggest that women need their own form of chivalry to follow. A few have seriously criticized Chivalry-Now for "excluding women."
     I usually shrug my shoulders and try to explain. From my point of view, male problems are so uniquely and culturally male that we need our own specific remedy, our own particular code of honor, to turn things around. To include women issues would add variables that would dramatically change the focus of Chivalry-Now. Men who desperately want to learn what it means to be a man might not buy into it if chivalry were "unisex." The vital ingredient they need would be missing.
     We dare not risk the power of our message for reasons of political correctness. Too much has been lost already in the last few centuries. Truth be told, women have a lot invested in our stated goals exactly as they stand. If we cannot reach out to men, where they are, in their spiritual language, and bring forth their higher attributes, women will continue to suffer at the hands of men as they have in various respects for generations.
     Likewise, whatever moral code that women wish to follow should specifically be their own, reflecting their own needs and vision of the world. It should not be imposed or even inspired by men, or limited to any male code. Women need to do this themselves, and take ownership of the results.
     That being said, women have been very supportive of our cause — many proudly describing themselves as feminists. One described Chivalry-Now as the counterpart to feminism. Another joined our Companionship and brought valuable contribution and encouragement to our forum.
     I have no problem with women honoring the same values that Chivalry-Now represents. In fact, I welcome it with a certain amount of validation.
     To make Chivalry-Now a male/female phenomenon, however, would castrate its efficacy for men who desperately need their own self-definition.
     Some say that Chivalry-Now should be human-centric, rather than male-centric. To them I say it is human-centric, but from a male perspective. This in no way belittles women. It just recognizes gender differences and attempt to deal with them in an honest, respectful manner.
     There are enough challenges to be faced just the way things are. I see gender related problems coming to a head in the wake of chivalry's resurgence. If enough men turn toward Chivalry-Now, it will create in a cultural shift in paradigm, producing new behavior that women might not be ready for. Men will (hopefully) act differently than before. While we anticipate that this will benefit both genders, women may have to adjust from the outside. Not part of the overall movement, their understanding of men will have to change. They might not like it at first. It involves a new understanding of masculinity. Thankfully, much of this has been presaged by past cultural references.
     The female psyche has naturally been influenced by its relationship to the male psyche, and vice versa. Indeed, the genders are somewhat defined in contrast to one another, and by culturally defined roles that continue despite Women's Liberation. How could they not? People constantly relate to and influence one another. The results I refer are generalities, of course. There exists a wide variety of individual differences within each gender.
     Nevertheless, men are in no position to tell women how to act or feel. Out of respect, love and belief in equality, we cannot demand anything intrinsically female. Chivalry tells us to approach women as friends and partners, and to cooperate in gender relations, as men, for fairness and for the benefit of the species. Everyone should respect gender differences while fulfilling their own obligations. While it may seem like the Quest leads us in certain direction we are not responsible for, the truth is quite the opposite. The Quest follows us wherever we go.
     One of the major gender problems that I have experienced has to do with love.
     Chivalry makes powerful statements about romantic love. It describes it as an ideal, and shows us how to achieve it.
     While romantic love has been a Western ideal for over a millennium, it has been poorly defined and rarely survives the early years of courtship. While the demise of romantic love in personal relationships is usually regretted, its failure can be anticipated in lack of courtesy, true commitment and honorable behavior. Unfortunately, we have come to expect this.
What happens, however, if chivalrous men suddenly appear on the scene who respond differently? Men who believe that love is not something transitory, but the very fabric of life? Women might welcome this at first, but are they truly ready for it to happen? Such love needs to be responded to in kind. While Chivalry-Now provides men with an inspirational whole code of behavior that feeds their capacity for love, where will women turn to for guidance or advice?
I like to think that their personal responses will arise naturally on their own. They will respond perfectly to positive male change and courteous behavior. But how can we be sure?
Romantic love needs the cooperation of both sexes in order to survive in a healthy fashion. It must be believed in. It be a constant and integral part of the relationship. In other words, it comprises a different kind of relationship than mere bonding for procreation. It demands as much truth, honor and courtesy from women as it does from men.
It is possible for a man to love a woman when it is not reciprocated, even from afar? Medieval chivalry clearly affirms that it is, and I see no reason to think otherwise.
But one-sided love is not the ideal. If romantic love is to flourish, both parties have to make it so. The woman has to believe in "forever" as much as the man, or something is lost. The dance is broken. The efforts fail.
This is a problem. Women may say they want romantic love, and appreciate it at first, but will they continue to nurture their part of it as time goes on and familiarity sets in? Will they appreciate the ongoing male courtesies from a single mate? Or grow complacent, or feel entitled, thus breaking the dynamic? Will they look down on the men who love them completely? Will the arrival of children or grandchildren, or new jobs, friends or hobbies detract from what is needed to keep romantic love alive?
For that matter, do today's women really want real romantic love, or just the public resemblance of it as part of courtship? Is it a cultural notion that demands far too much investment, and risk eventual failure and disappointment?
These are questions we need to explore, knowing full well that no theory or discussion will prove anything. The only proof we can attain comes from our own lives and efforts. That is our challenge.
In some of my own past relationships, my feelings of love where shaped and informed by my beliefs and commitment. Chivalry helped design this. The women I became involved with did not share these same beliefs. Their responses and commitments were very different from mine. I was hoping for something similar or complimentary to what I offered, but the concept just wasn't there. Romance became painfully one-sided. Once the relationship was established, the energy to keep it at a high levels just died out.
Please don't draw conclusions from that. My past relations provide little more than a few anecdotes limited my own involvement. Nevertheless, I suggest that romantic love survives better when both partners purposely engage in it. The intensity and permanence are jeopardized when only one person is so committed.
Some considered thoughts:

  • It is important for the woman you love to at least understand and appreciate the romantic love that the chivalrous man offers.
  • Unfortunately, there is no guidebook to help her with this from a female perspective. The concept of chivalry is not entirely alien, however. Various forms of it survive in our culture in fairy tales, myths and literature, pointing to such love as a desirable ideal and something to believe in..
  • If the love she feels in return coincides with what you offer in a complimentary fashion, permanent success become possible to achieve. Next comes living up to your ideals.
  • I personally believe that most women have what it takes, but society distracts them from it, as it tries to distract us all. If she wants authenticity, and sees it in your eyes, she will hopefully respond in kind.

All people want to be loved and appreciated. Unfortunately, we are not always open to loving and appreciating others, which breaks the cycle. We sometimes get too self-absorbed. If Chivalry-Now helps men become more open to this, more responsive to their loved-ones, women need to understand what is going on. They need to determine what they really want from their male partners — and what they are willing to give in return. They have to decide, in the long run, if they even want permanent relationships that are romantic? What they consider love might be no more than a mating instinct that pass with time.
What appears to be love might also be a manifestation of ego and therefore doomed to failure. Or a response to social or familial expectations that ends as abruptly as it starts. Or a desire for security that comes through attachment.
It can also be more of a response to the excitement that come from romance, rather than actual love.
These are all pitfalls to the kind of love that chivalry espouses. Men need to be honestly aware of them, and women should too.
There will be women who simply aren't interested in romantic love, or are incapable of it, for whatever reason. They might not trust it, or feel that the results just aren't worth the trouble. Their choices must be respected. If you love such a woman, by all means do. Have a wonderful relationship, but enjoy it with both eyes open.
Those who do want a full blown version of romantic love need to base it on certain prerequisites:

  • Sensitivity and commitment are paramount to making and keeping it.
  • Before risking that, the woman needs to know that this is something her lover wants, and that both of them are equally committed to making it happen.
  • Neither partner must ever be considered a commodity by the other.
  • They should never allow other people to come between them. The crowning achievement of romantic love is the peak ascendancy each feels for the other.
  • Both should constantly feel wanted and appreciated by each other, and not allow daily responsibilities to make their relationship drift apart.
  • For always means that love and dedication continues even after the bloom of youth fades. True beauty is what we create in love. It does not diminish.

In a sense, women may find themselves at a disadvantage if they aren't prepared with their own code of principles. Perhaps they will develop one. I'm not sure what they would call it. Perhaps it would be the next logical step of feminism. Until then, it pays for men of chivalry to be aware of the difficulties women might face during our cultural transition.
Whatever happens, we must be as patient and considerate as women have been toward us for centuries.


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