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Honor? Or Brutality toward Women?
by Dean Jacques

I am the author of Chivalry-Now, the Code of Male Ethics, and one of the two founders of our international fellowship. As such, I am deeply concerned about attitudes toward gender which are unacceptable for the modern world, attitudes that should have been unacceptable in the old world too.

That oppression toward women is somehow associated with the word "honor" is especially troubling, and needs to stop. These oppressions include restricting the experiences of women as fellow human beings to the point that their lives are held in bondage, punishing them for behavior that a culture mistakenly deems worthy of extreme punishment. These punishments include such barbaric atrocities as mutilation, permanent disfigurement and even death-often instigated by the guilt of someone else.

The men who do these things believe that "honor" demands such treatment, referring to the honor of family reputation. "Punish the one who brings shame or even a hint of shame. Punish severely to exonerate one's name. It is the honorable thing to do."

This compulsion is not derived from conscience, but from tradition, transmitted memories of past behavior that culture has associated with correct behavior. It is mistaken because it is cause and effect that has no heart, and no real thought. It only survives as an expectation aligned with fear-not honor. It is a lie that exonerates no one and, instead, heaps evil upon evil that reflects upon a whole community.

Is it honorable to harm a loved one whom an untwisted nature would otherwise compel us to cherish and protect? This runs against nature itself.

What legitimates such unnatural behavior? Anger derived from perceiving an imperfection? Who is perfect enough to legitimize such anger? If it is fear of public opinion, then those who support it are slaves to gossip. What is honorable about that? Tradition affords no excuse. Any tradition that runs contrary to love and God-given conscience needs to be rejected. Why would any honorable person add suffering to the world, when there is too much already?

One can never retract an undeserved punishment. One cannot bring someone murdered back to life, or reverse the consequences of disfigurement or mutilation. One cannot heal scars of the mind and spirit that are born inside.

There is no manly honor in fearfully surrendering to traditions that are contrary to life and love. That is the way of the moral coward who has no regard for justice. Likewise, there is no honor in trading one's compassion for anger. It is compassion that makes us human. There is no honor in blaming God. God's justice would never support traditions that reject both conscience and nature. To declare that God is good and merciful is to hold these attributes in high regard, not deny them.

Some men think that they are protecting the women they love by barricading them from the outside world. They believe that familial love gives them the responsibility to take away their freedom. They fail to see how this degrades women. Why? Because their values are such that they do not see women as persons on par with men. This too is a blasphemy against nature.

A flower cannot blossom within a closed box, where it experiences no sunlight, no rain, and no appreciation for its uniqueness. This is not what life is all about. The man who acts as jail keeper of the innocent becomes the oppressor from whom women need protection.

Humanity consists of two genders. Due to strange twists of cultural traditions, lost in forgotten contortions of the past, the two are often not seen as equals. And yet they are, by the undisputed fact that both are human. To various extents, this mistaken view is seen in just about every culture. It will not change until it is recognized as wrong.

In Chivalry-Now, we hold the 12 Trusts as a behavioral code. Its simplicity is derived from the past but updated for modern times. The 6th Trust tells us the proper response to be shown by men toward the female gender: "I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises."

From this perspective, honor is not decided by family reputation or fear of gossip. It is as it should be, a personal commitment to truth, justice, the advocacy of what is right and good… and a partnership with women that defends their rights. It is not limited by mistaken tradition, but a principle that finds its value in life itself.

The reason we hold women's rights as equal to those of men is obvious. Women think and feel and dream. Given half a chance, they contribute to the world as surely as men do. This is self-evident. All we need is to do is see what free and educated women accomplish. That their value is beyond rational dispute, it stands to reason that no one has the right to interfere with any woman's dreams or potential.

When any man, be it father, husband, son, uncle, person of authority, or other, disrespects a woman's human rights, just because she is a woman, he immediately destroys his own validity of being a man. He has rejected the innate principles of honesty and compassion that manhood demands.

In this respect, the liberation of women is coexistent to achieving the liberation of men as well—a liberation of conscience that completes us all.

The solution is simple. All men have to do is find and assert their own true identity by opening their hearts and minds to fairness and compassion. They must step forward, no longer as cattle bound to tradition, but as heroes capable of condemning traditions that oppress women and ruin men at the same time.

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