Men are not pigs. You see, that’s giving men too much credit. When pigs burrow in the mud and embrace the dirtiness, it is not something that they rationalize. “Oh,” said the rationalizing pig. “I get all sorts of excitement out of muddy rolls. Therefore, let me roll. It will make me feel better and you know that there is no higher purpose in this world besides my desire for pleasure. I don’t really have a purpose except my biological needs. One of them is the Cool Feeling of Mud on my back and….uuuuuuuuuuh.”
Men, on the other hand, are like that and because of that, it’s much worse when they actually do rationalize the mud.
However, I would like to not focus on the fact that men are often dirty and often justify it. I want to talk about what they can do to not do that.
People often reference the “feminine genius”, a phrase which thrills me, actually. I want to talk today about the “masculine genius” which is, by the way nothing more than the masculine way of responding to the “feminine genius”. I will pull a word out of a hat to use to describe this phenomenon. Oh…chivalry? We’ll go with that.
Chivalry is much maligned these days. It is often associated with the oppressive Middle Ages. Dominating Men decided to create a code which they could uphold in public and which would give them cover for taking advantage of the “weaker sex”. Chivalry is now seen as a way to tell women “you can’t do this without me” or “See how good, holy, whatever I am as a man?” In other words, it is either demeaning or showing off. And the problem with this perception is that it’s often true. Men do often fall into these traps. They want to prove themselves. (Men always want to do that….)
I want to do two things. One, I would like to place heavy impossible burdens on my fellow men. Two, I would like to grovel in the mud (!) and ask a boon of the women.
Men, be knights. This does not mean going off into the woods everyday and finding other knights to fight and slaughter, although it can involve that. It does not mean feasting with your buddies in a tall castle, although it does involve that. It does not mean rescuing damsels in distress, although it often involves that. The main virtue behind chivalry is not courage, it is humility. We must know where we stand in relation to others. We are not the Scum of the Earth that must compensate for all the evils that Man has done to Woman. We are not the Superior Sex. We often can do things women can’t and often can’t do things that women can. Our chivalry must be the balance between the active and passive and knowing when we must do and when we must not do.
In terms of our relationship with women (which is the most common idea of chivalry), I will follow the list that Pope John Paul II used:
We must know how to treat women as mothers. All women are in some way developing the motherly way. Because of this, even as youth, they have their moments when their wisdom strikes us like a lightning bolt. We have to know when to defer to the motherly wisdom. This does not mean that since a woman has an opinion, she is automatically motherly, but we must be aware of when she is. Furthermore, we must respect her when she acting as a mother, in a nurturing manner (and believe me, even toddlers of the female persuasion act in this manner with birds, beasts and most importantly babies).
We must know how to treat women as wives. Most women will somebody’s wife and approximately one of them will probably be yours. Treat all women as though they are not your wife (unless you have one, in which case whatever you do, treat her like she is your wife). The women in your life want to be able to give themselves in love to somebody. Do not take. Let them give.
We must know how to treat women as sisters. They are a part of a family. Let them help their family and if they need the support of someone stronger, help them. The chivalrous thing to do for women as sisters is to offer service to her family. Be a brother to them because they may need that.
Finally, as the daughters of Mary (who is Queen, as the Church reminds us today) we must treat them as royalty. As knights, our first duty is to the royal family, and our lives are at its service.
And that is the final word on that. Service. Do not serve because you will get something out of it. Serve because women are persons and deserve service as a mother, wife, sister and princess.
And now, women, I ask of you a favor. When men fail at this, which they often do, please refrain from humiliating them. Often when they want to practice service toward women, they realize when they have slipped up and will often try harder. Instead foster an atmosphere in which it is apparent when you want men to do things and when they should stand aside and let you do your thing. Both are services. Chivalry is not merely holding doors (but it sometimes is that) and when some man fails to do this for you, think about it. Is he a chivalrous man? Would he wish to have failed you? If you know him to treat you well, please recognize that every man forgets sometimes and guilt is not a good way of promoting chivalry.