'Give Chivalry Another Chance'

We'll skip over the first part of this article, which starts with the Titanic, ground that Cassandra has more than adequately covered as you will all well remember.

As you know, I'm entirely devoted to the order of chivalry. Naturally, then, I find it appealing to see a magazine as left-leaning as The Atlantic raise the issue of taking it seriously. I don't wish to underrate the achievement; it's going to have been quite hard for the author to have written the piece, and even harder for readers to take her seriously given how baldly the terms violate their assumptions.

Nevertheless, I do wish to point out that she hasn't quite got the thing she's talking about. I'll borrow a few words I've written elsewhere, recently, to clarify just where she is wrong.
Chivalry is about respect. It is about not harming or hurting others, especially those who are more vulnerable than you. It is about putting other people first and serving others often in a heroic or courageous manner. It is about being polite and courteous. In other words, chivalry in the age of post-feminism is another name we give to civility.
Well, if it's just another name for civility -- to paraphrase Flannery O'Connor (excellent article, by the way) -- then to hell with it. Civility is certainly included in the virtue of chivalry, where it is appropriate: but so is defiance, where that is what the virtue demands.

Chivalry is not only about civility. Sometimes it is about dying. A moral order that you cannot die for is not really a moral order at all, because it can contain nothing greater than the individual. But any moral order must be about things greater than the individual, or else it cannot demand that the individual should sacrifice in favor of that moral order.

This is why Hannah Rosin was wrong to say that something 'more' than chivalry was at work in the Aurora theater. Nothing more is entailed, and nothing more is required.

The important thing about chivalry is the understanding that it is a set of chains. Sometimes it is about things you must do. Sometimes it is about things you would never do.

It is a discipline, in other words, one that takes God-given strength and uses it not to dominate but to serve. If it is done this way, with an honest heart, it produces the best and noblest kind of man that humankind has ever learned to produce.


douglas said...

As soon as I saw this article, I knew you would be covering it.

" A moral order that you cannot die for is not really a moral order at all, because it can contain nothing greater than the individual."

Wow, that's a good one. There's a lot packed into that sentence.

I was actually thinking that it would be interesting to see you address some of the negative comments to that post, as in thinking about arguments pro, I couldn't always think of solid ones.

Grim said...

I would be happy to do that. Which ones were you having trouble answering?

douglas said...

There were several comments that were basically saying that chivalry and civility were essentially the same (or should be) and so the only distinction was the assignment of gender roles. I know that there's more to it than that, but I wouldn't be able to take a decent stance in an argument for it.

There was also a general feeling that the devotion of a man to women was somehow demeaning to the women, who were 'put on pedestals'- in their eyes, objectified. I get that its not the case precisely, but don't know enough about the system historically to address those sorts of comments in a meaningful way.

I think those were the two main things that I kept seeing which I thought deserved a good argument against. Also, they are surely related points.

Thank you.