Chivalry, or how to Submit to a Lady

Wanting to do more research to corroborate Dalrock’s excellent series on chivalry I stumbled upon this gem from our old friend the Catholic Match Institute. Excerpts from Why Holding Doors Matters. I don’t want to go through the trouble of quoting the whole article, so here are assorted sections. I want you all to note the sections where the mask slips:

There is a moment in Ben-Hur where the Emperor Tiberius is preparing to give a proclamation. The servant tasked with handing it to him is momentarily distracted and doesn’t realize that Tiberius is sitting there with his hand held out, glaring at him and waiting for him to give him the scroll. It’s within easy reach, but he is the Emperor; he doesn’t move to meet his servants, his servants move to meet him. No one who valued his head would dare suggest this implied weakness on the Emperor’s part; quite the contrary. His power and authority is shown in that others do things for him, not because he can’t, but because he shouldn’t have to.

Aha. In other words, when a man holds a door open for a woman he is doing the equivalent of acknowledging that she has authority over him – that he is, in fact, her subordinate, and she is owed deference.

Men naturally have more physical power than women; therefore, we must drill ourselves in the habit of using that power for women rather than for ourselves (in the same way, women have tremendous attractive power that they must learn to use safely and justly, which is what we call ‘modesty.’ But that’s a topic for another time).

A topic for another time indeed. Do you think modesty will have a counterpoint to this?

The man who opens the door and lets you enter a restaurant first is building the same habit that might one day cause him to stand back and let you enter a lifeboat first. The rich men who went to their deaths on the Titanic while chambermaids and seamstresses were lowered to safety could easily have thrown the entire crew into the sea and saved themselves. They didn’t, in part, because they had been trained all their lives to afford certain basic courtesies to women. And though you may never find yourself in such dire circumstances, every woman ought to hope that the man she marries has a similar attitude towards her wellbeing.

Well now, strange indeed. What if such a forced policy literally leads to more deaths than it prevents? Is it still wrong if you don’t do it, or merely smart? What if the husband is the breadwinner, knows he will be better able to take care of their children, and knows it would be in the family’s best interests if his life was secured first? What would the wife’s obligation be in such a situation?

If these are the obligations of chivalry, what are the obligations of modesty that correspond? Covering up your chest with a nice sweater and a skirt that goes past the knees? Listening to your husband when he asks you not to show off your ass at the office?

It’s always interesting to see the mask slip.

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12 Responses to Chivalry, or how to Submit to a Lady

  1. Chad says:

    The big thing missing is that no one tries to determine what the end goal is… they just state we should do it because ‘muh, wimminz weak.’

    If it is for a common good, to channel male aggression to productive ends, then you are right in that they must actually produce something worth having in relation to the sacrifice given.

    That has always been seen as a wife and children. Until recently

  2. Isn’t it interesting how chivalry comes from the Catholic lands, not the Orthodox ones… 😉

    Ok cheekiness aside (a comparative culture analysis for similar codes would be interesting though) dalrock… kind of tends to overplay the legitimate point he’s making. For example, did you know that the survival rates for men were higher on one side of the ship than other? Why? Because two different crewmen interpreted the orders two different ways. From wiki:

    The boats were lowered in sequence, from the middle forward then aft, with First Officer William McMaster Murdoch, Third Officer Herbert Pitman and Fifth Officer Harold Lowe working on the starboard side, and Chief Officer Henry Tingle Wilde and Second Officer Charles Lightoller working on the port side, with the assistance of Captain Smith. The collapsible boats were dealt with last, as they could not be launched until the forward davits were clear.

    Smith had ordered his officers to put the “women and children in and lower away”. However, Murdoch and Lightoller both interpreted the evacuation order differently; Murdoch interpreted it as women and children first, while Lightoller interpreted it as women and children only. Lightoller lowered lifeboats with empty seats if there were not any women and children waiting to board, while Murdoch only allowed a limited number of men to board if all the nearby women and children had already embarked.

    For another example, Dalrock closes with: “The wicked worship of romantic love and adultery that began in the 12th century. . .poses a very real risk to the safety of men, women, and children in cases of disaster.”

    Does one really think that chivalry is the only reason there was a maritime tradition of women and children first? Think on it. Can you spot what’s missing?

    • “It was only half the boat” is hardly a defense.

      • No but “it was less a culture and more one idiot who screwed up” is. At the very least, we may want to to be reluctant in condemning an entire group or idea based upon an individual’s actions. (I doubt that’s a standard even the Church could survive.) If you want to make the argument “chivalry kills” then additional examples would be a good idea.

      • Okay. I suggest reading Dalrock’s series to see the very great harm it did to society and how it perverted Christian ideals of marriage. And my question in my original post is still entirely relevant – note how even the article author connects it with chivalry.

      • I have been reading Dalrock’s series, and while he makes some good point, I find that he will make leaps not firmly supported by the evidence & reasoning he’s provided. Jonah Goldberg loves to point out: technology does far more to disrupt society than any idea. So whenever a massive overhaul happens, one should probably look to what was developed around that time, not always the ideas.

        I certainly agree that chivalry is like the geneva convention: if one side abandons the agreement by abandoning their responsibilities then it’s suicide for the other side to still try and follow it.

        And I won’t deny that it did harm just like every other human idea. But like Chesterton advised, we should first understand why the fence was built, then we can know whether it is time to take it down or not.

      • But that’s the whole point of his series: Understanding why the fence was built. It was originally a code of warrior honor but the bersion we have now developed from the anti-Christian ideal of courtly love.

        The article is evidence of that. The author literally compares chivalry to a subject shoeing deference to his king – or in other words *precisely the reverse of what the Bible describes*. This is no coincidence.

        Where chivalry belongs is on the battlefield, and in the modern age of guerilla warfare even there is iffy

    • Modern responses to the Titanic disaster very clearly frame it in the guise of chivalry – see women’s ghoulish responses to the Costa Concordia disaster as evidence.

  3. I have a modest proposal: anyone who pushes chivalry without professional combat skills and a wake of bodies behind them should be drafted into a monastic military order and sent to fight until they have them. Then they can opine on the alleged code of the chevalier.

  4. buckyinky says:

    That Catholicmatch website is … something. I would first have my daughters drink physical poison than have them take to heart almost anything addressed there specifically to women. It is a lot of poison for the soul.

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