Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Is Chivalry Making a Comeback?

Loredana Vuoto of the Washington Times has an intriguing article on the subject. There are so many good bits that I am having a hard time selecting quotes. Here are a few:

    Mr. Miner [author of The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry] says fathers are partly to blame for the decline of chivalry. Fathers "make clear what the virtues of a gentleman are by example," he says.

    "If you yourself don't aspire to be a gentleman, you certainly won't instill that aspiration in your sons," Mr. Miner says. "It is always easier to take the easy way. That is why, both past and present, you don't have many men aspiring to be chivalrous."

I tend to agree. Of course there are exceptions, my own father being one, but in general I sense that men no longer particularly aspire to a sense of honor or duty.

    Charlotte Hays, senior editor at the Independent Women's Forum, blames "this haglike feminism that has developed" for destroying chivalry by denying differences between men and women.

    In order to recover gentlemanly ideals, she says, society must "reject what is generally called feminism -- the kind that wants to send women into combat ... and recognize that men and women are basically different, and that it is historically the role of the male species to put the lady first."

    Feminists disagree.

    "The decline in manners is not just about men, says feminist author Naomi Wolf, co-founder of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership.

    "Young men and young women are not taught to be kind to elderly people, to give up their seat to a pregnant woman, to be as good as their word," she said. "I don't see this as feminism causing this decline. I see it as a set of social factors which are degrading the values of young men and young women."

    Ms. Wolf cites such influences as pornography, MTV, reality-TV shows and the fact that "the left insists that education be secular."

This is so remarkable I am speechless! Read that last sentence again, and remember that this is Naomi Wolf speaking.

    "Some men take the claims of feminism in order to reject the idea that men ought to show deference to women. But to a compleat gentleman, none of that matters," he says.

    Chivalry and courtly love were really "a kind of proto-feminist idea that was a force for civilizing men," says Mr. Miner, saying that medieval women taught men the virtues of civility. "Just as it was in the Middle Ages, so it is now, that men must learn the most important things of all from women."

    Mr. Moore agrees: "If men know they have to prove themselves and that they have to marry the women they have sex with, men will have to become marriageable and manly, rather than just cool and funny," he says.

Again, amen! One of my pet peeves is conservative whining about the dominance of the left and the resulting decay of values. All of it is true, of course, but the unstated premise of that complaint is that conservatives are helpless in the face of confrontation. But this is merely leftist victimhood in borrowed robes!

We have better arguments, better values and the weight of all of history on our side. If we had quitted ourselves like men a few generations ago the left would have never gotten a foothold. Even now it is not too late.

(Via David Mills at Touchstone)

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