Monday, April 16, 2012

Our Masculine Power Part Two: The Power To Destroy And Defend

"The Power To Destroy"

That's what it comes down to.  Besides our capacity for enduring hard labor, the male ability and willingness to risk his life in the conduct of violence has been valued and despised since the Neolithic.  Men break things and hurt people.  Or, at least, Men have the capability and the capacity to break things and hurt people . . . and die in battle.  Men have the power to take up a pointy stick or an AK-47 and violently take another human life.  Our lack of empathy is actually of service to us, here.  And our willingness to hurt other people and take a beating makes us of service to our communities and nations.

The male capacity for violence is oft-criticized and oft-celebrated, but rarely explored beyond it's effects on society.  This particular power is among the oldest and darkest from our primordial past, the visceral fight-or-flight reflex left over from our days as reptiles amplified through the power of our bodies and the leverage of our minds.  If the Masculine Power to Destroy, and all that it entails, had an icon, it would be Conan the Barbarian.

If you aren't familiar with Robert E. Howard's magnificent literary creation, I encourage you to pick up the original stories.  Conan is, essentially, the epitome of every primal, violent, id-laden urge in a man's soul.  His strength -- the hallmark of the Power to Destroy -- and willingness to bust heads and steal stuff from powerful undead sorcerers or busty femme fatale sorceresses in order to fill his need for violence, gold, wine and booty.  Conan is from the mythical "Hyperborean Age", a period over 10,000 ago, that is long before "modern" civilization took root.  Conan is a Barbarian, a tribal warrior taken as a slave in his youth.  Upon his escape he becomes a warrior, thief, soldier-of-fortune, pirate, mercenary, and bandit before eventually becoming a King.  Along the way Howard demonstrates to us perhaps the most macho symbol of ass-kickery since Heracles.

Conan is every you could ask for in a Bull Alpha: he's strong, successful, a good leader, and prone to promiscuity.  In Conan's world, there seem to be only two or three variations of womanhood: The Evil 
Two Of The Three Kinds Of Women Conan Meets:
Sexy Evil Sorceress and Sexy Innocent Slave Girl
Sorceress, uniformly beautiful and seductive and evil -- sometimes he bangs 'em, sometimes he just slays 'em. Then there is the noble-born lady, often a princess, who tries to order Conan around according to their comparative stations.  Conan is the master at "re-framing" during these incidents. He cares not how high born a wench is, etc. etc.  And then there are the wenches, the common busty slavegirls that always seem to keep from getting eaten by monsters during the adventure, only to get hammered in innuendo at the end of the story.  Conan always beds the babe.  That's what, to his id-driven brain, they are there for.    Conan . . . not a feminist.

There is another stereotype figure in the Conan mythos: the Red Sonia-style female warrior.  She's the Alpha Female badass who's beauty inspires her devoted men almost as much as her fighting skill.  There are a couple of babes like this in the Hyperborean mythos, but Sonia is clearly the most popuarl.  In this case Conan does, indeed, lust for the woman, but his respect of her prowess compells him to respect and value  her almost like any other warrior.

But of course then he fucks her anyway.

My point in all of this is that Conan is an icon of masculinity, signifying the same vein of brutal, beautiful muscles and steel that has been with us since the dawn of humanity.  That paradigm pops up in culture after culture, seasoned locally for better palatability.  But there is always a Strong Violent man or god in a pantheon.  Thor.  Gilgamesh.  Heracles.  Ogmios.  Samson.  Big muscles, quick with a sword, hit things hard and fast.  The basic warrior model.  The killer.  The Masculine Power of Destruction.
I bring this up because I like Conan.  I like the fact that men are good at hurting people and destroying stuff.  It's not that I like hurting people and destroying stuff, but it is quite nice to know I could if I needed to.  Conan eats, fights, and fucks, a man of simple needs.  He's a walking phallus, an id-shaped stereotype.  He is just the sort of hypermasculinized no-necked slab of muscle that feminists have consistently rejected as an appropriate model.  Conan insights violence against women, I heard in High School.  Real men are sensitive and use their words, not their hot-forged steel battleaxe.  Real men don't toss a slave girl over a log, hike up her skirts and proceed to business without securing a clear and legally binding consent.
Feminist hate Conan. He represents everything primal and basic about masculinity.  A depth of violence and anger that women can only vaguely understand.  
The Atomic Bomb: Our Bad
In the aftermath of the bloody and slightly-radioactive 20th Century, this particular Masculine Power took a beating.  Sometimes we're just too good.  And in this case the primal nature of the Power to Destroy, when united with a highly civilized brain, became a tool that nearly brought our race to extinction.  That produced a LOT of guilt.
(We're feeling much better, now.)

But during that generation or so of guilt and self-criticism of masculinity after the horrors of the Holocaust and Hiroshima, feminism chimed in, too -- not that it wasn't deserved.  I think the winners of WWII knew full well the potential for devastation they had at their fingertips, and they wisely avoided using it.  But during this period, feminism went beyond attacking the excesses of violence and instead challenged the character of masculinity as well.  Men were violent -- and particularly violent against women, it was argued.  Therefore it wasn't just violence against women, or violence in general, but men as instruments of violence that caused feminism to largely trend towards pacifism.  Considering the anti-war movement that was concurrent with the rise of popular feminism, it isn't hard to see why they conflated.

But it did essentially attempt to shame men away from a vital and important aspect of their masculinity.  They wanted to guilt Conan out of the equation and replace him with Potsie from Happy Days.

The Power to Destroy is, of course, the most feared of our powers, and rightly so.  A propensity for violence can be easily traced to over-all testosterone production in a man.  Considering our teen-age years can pump up to five times the adult level of testosterone into a body less than two thirds as large.  Testosterone makes you want to hit stuff.  It also makes you want to run and lift heavy objects.  Unfortunately, it also impairs your judgement, so that a really high testosterone level is like a big fat Stupid ticket.  Luckily, our over-the-top risky behavior during our teenage years is also a tremendous DHV for potential mates . . . if you survive.

Think of violence and testosterone as Nature's way of sorting out the good genes from the bad ones.

Any small paleolithic society had to deal with predators, of course, critters much bigger than they.  Or just more deadly.  Protecting mates and the young from marauding predators is where this violent instinct comes from.  As communities grew and began to compete over scarce resources, the masculine propensity for violence not only raided, it protected those resources.  And by the Bronze Age, thanks to a generous dose of Ordering, the masculine capacity for violence built empires.

But when you're a young man and pumped full of Stupid Juice, you have a pretty good shot at getting yourself killed before you breed.  So you have to redouble your efforts to make DHVs until you attract the attention of a mate or die trying.  Therefore engaging in risky, dangerous behavior is a great way to show off how adept you are . . . if you survive.  But if you do, then you get Nature's bonus package: an increased reputation and notoriety that could well transform into pussy at some point or another.

Look at it from an Evo Bio perspective:  Say a male mouse has a basic SMV in Mouseland, X.  Getting eaten by a cat is going to give you X-10.  Not getting eaten by a cat, say X+1.  Getting caught by a cat, getting batted around, and then through a combination of guile, luck, and feline arrogance you manage to escape.  Suddenly you are not just a mouse who hasn't gotten eaten by a cat (X+1).  Now Nature looks at you as a mouse who survived a daring and harrowing, life-threatening encounter with a cat (X+15) and lived to mate, which means that your genes are exceptionally good, and many of your children might not be eaten, too.  Risking your life was personally a really stupid choice, but for the species it was just a little harmless competition.

That might not be too reassuring to you, but give it a moment.

Men did not allow their Power to Destroy overwhelm them, after a few unfortunate incidents.  Men recognized that while every village needed its protectors, sometimes those fellow protectors would be the ones raiding your people.  So in just about every major civilization, about 200-500 years after the rise of metal weapons, something else arose, too: the early Codes of Chivalry.

That's been a big topic in the news, lately, thanks to the whole Titanic women-and-children-first debate.  The ironic thing is, those who bemoan a lack of chivalry in our society today have forgotten what the word means.

Here’s a newsflash: Manners, etiquette and chivalry?  Three separate and completely different things.

It irritates me that the three are used so interchangeably in this day and age, and I urge any Red Pill dudes  to be very careful how you use the terms in casual conversation.  This came to light recently when I was scanning through the Manosphere and saw these posts describing feminist nostalgia for pre-feminist traditionalgender roles., over at Dalrock, I think.

What concerned me the most wasn’t the cognitive disconnect shown by the feminist ideologues about common social courtesy as broken down by gender; it was how often the term “chivalry” was tossed around as a synonym for manners or etiquette.  It’s not, though, and by using it such you demean the term and the institution.

So why should you care?  Because Chivalry (capitalized to distinguish it from mere manners) is a warriors code.  Indeed, it is the code which shaped the vision of masculinity for Europe for centuries, until effective smallarms made it archaic.  Archaic or not, Chivalry is still the core of our military system, where terms like Honor and Duty (two hallmarks of the code) still mean something. 

Instead of re-hashing old ground, here’s an excerpt from my 2006 book, The Gentleman’s Guide To Picking Up Women, on the subject:

How We Became Gentlemen

Remember that the term “Gentleman”, upon which we have dumped connotations of effeteness and wussitude in our modern age, originally meant someone from the aristocratic class in Europe – a class that was descended from the men who went out in the middle ages with steel and fire and conquered and defended their lands and spent their lives pursuing violence in work and play.  The whole idea of a “Gentleman” harkens to the Dark Ages, when the power of a mounted knight was so great that any foe he faced on foot would likely get slain, and a cocky knight may well feel that anyone on foot was fair game.
 The social structure of any society cannot take such wanton violence casually and expect to survive and thrive.  Even if our ancestors were brutish thugs, they had to live together in a social system that had to recognize limits on any one thug’s power.  So the Codes of Chivalry were adapted from pre-Christian pagan warrior codes, updated to detail a warrior’s duties and responsibilities as well as privileges in medieval society, and iron-clad thugs became respectable noble Gentlemen of the aristocracy. 
 The Codes protected women, the sick, children, the religious class, and detailed proper behavior towards your inferiors, superiors, and peers.  It codified truthfulness and respect for authority, duty to one’s lord and god, and attention to one’s honor“The word of a Gentleman” became a cast-iron promise.  Honor became the hallmark of the nobility in the Middle Ages, not physical prowess.  It didn’t hurt that it also usually came with lucrative land deals.
 The violent edge may have faded, but it did not disappear.  Long after the longbow eradicated the effectiveness of the mounted knight, the nobles continued to wield swords and kill people (mostly each other) in a very dignified and proper way.  It was a Gentleman’s privilege to defend his honor, and despite all of the social niceties and polite forms of behavior that accumulated around the concept, until the 19th century this attitude persisted: a Gentleman was always willing to defend his honor, or he was little more than a geek in a nice suit.
 As Brad Miner points out in his book, The Compleat Gentleman, a Gentleman is

“not determined by birth or class; [within him] resides a man who is at once a warrior (a readiness to face battle for a just cause), lover (he lets a woman be what she wants to be) and monk (a man possessing true knowledge).” 
  But at the core of it is the big mounted thug on a horse with a sword.
 Chivalry was the code of the mounted cavalry, and its based at its foundation on one warrior’s duty and responsibilities to another on the field of battle.  The politeness and etiquette associated with chivalry is rooted in such basic issues as whether or not it was fair to stab a guy when he fell off his horse and wasn’t looking, or slitting his throat from behind, or waiting until his helmet was askew and then running him through.
 This was a major consideration in the Dark Ages.  For most of the medieval period in Europe, warfare was widespread but small, usually involving small political units ruled by despots warring with each other, not large-scale invasions or clashes between large armies.  A typical medieval war would have involved a few hundred actual warriors, most of them quickly-armed, untrained peasants, led by a tiny few steel-clad cavalry who were all but invincible compared to the peasants.  And since any professional military needs training – and learning to couch a lance in full armor and use it effectively as a tool of war takes a lifetime – the mounted warriors had to practice a lot.
 A lot of this practice looked like any gym on a busy day: running in full armor, calisthenics, weight training, maybe a little Zumba on the Sabbath.  But the more intense training was the melee and the tilting yard, where young squires took up blunted weapons and hacked at each other under the tutelage of older and wiser heads.  This wasn’t limited to pure combat skills: a squire had to master how to take care of and train his mount, care for his armor and weapons, and basically kiss the ass of his knight until he was a knight himself.  But out on the field, if there was no code of conduct concerning how to properly hack at each other without killing each other, well, a lot of promising young squires would get killed long before they were dubbed.
 In point of fact, a lot were.  Military training is dangerous.
 But the Chivalric Code was there to make it less so, and to ensure that even when you drew a sword with murder in your heart against a sworn foe, you were reasonably certain that he wouldn’t stab you in the back when you weren’t looking, and vice versa.  Eventually, with the rise of the infantry in the 14th century, the importance of cavalry died out, and Chivalry became more important for melees and tournaments . . . but it never stopped regulating the affairs of combatants on the field.
 Or, as Wikipedia points out, “Regardless of the diverse written definitions of chivalry, the medieval knightly class was adept at the art of war, trained in fighting in armor, with horses, lances, swords and shields. Knights were taught to excel in the arms, to show courage, to be gallant and loyal and to swear off cowardice and baseness.” (Emphasis mine)

So . . . at the root of Chivalry is the capacity to beat the living shit out of someone.

That’s important.  Don’t forget it.  It will come up later.

Let’s take a look at some of the original elements of the early Code of Chivalry, from the Song of Roland, one of the medieval epics that helped cement the code into the popular consciousness and culture of Europe:

The Knights Code of Chivalry and the vows of Knighthood

The Knights Code of Chivalry described in the Song of Roland and an excellent representation of the Knights Codes of Chivalry are as follows:

§         To fear God and maintain His Church

(A relatively late addition, due to the desire of the medieval Church to control the military.)

§         To serve the liege lord in valour and faith

(Your liege lord was your legal superior, and the one who handed out goodies.  He was your war leader, your judge in disputes with your peers and your advocate in disputes with your superiors; the basic feudal institution was a grant of land from the lord to hold in his name, and a sword to defend him when he needed warriors.  Being brave and honest with your liege lord was, therefore, a knightly virtue, not a capitulation to betahood.)

§         To protect the weak and defenseless

(Ah, this is one of the segues from chivalry to manners and etiquette.  Originally this was used as a nod towards fairness – a guy with a sword, armor and a horse can go around and do pretty much whatever he wants to the peasants until another guy with a sword, armor and horse comes along and stops him.  Indeed, it was a cornerstone of warfare, savaging the peasants of your neighbor’s manor to deprive him of the manpower and resources needed to keep his fief running.  By mutually agreeing through the code not to mess up the unarmed peasantry, or kill off the weak and sick, the medieval knight protected not just his own lands from the deprivations of foreign nobility, but they ensured that they would be treated with due deference by the “weak and defenceless” wherever he went.)

§         To give succour to widows and orphans

(The Middle Ages produced regular bumper-crops of both.  Between plague, poor healthcare choices, and the very real possibility of dying in war or in famine or both, leaving behind a wife and six kids was fairly typical.  In an agricultural-based society where men had a monopoly on land ownership, therefore, once your husband died you were screwed – sometimes literally.  Similarly, in a society where privileges and rights were determined by ancestry, being an orphan could really suck – sometimes literally.  The Chivalric ideal of giving succor to widows and orphans as an expression of Compassion and Grace helped maintain the cultural illusion of some sort of safety-net for such unfortunates.  Note that most feminist theoreticians consider such compassion to be properly a function of the state, not of individual preference.  Or they maintain that such expressions should be compulsory as a matter of social justice, and have little to do with gender (although its rare you hear them rail at women for their lack of compassion).  Which means that they are missing the point.)

§         To refrain from the wanton giving of offence

(This could better be translated to “Don’t be a douchebag”.  If you’re a big, dangerous guy in armor with a three-foot long sword you’ve spent a lifetime learning how to use effectively, the “wanton giving of offence” could mean a serious fight, and serious fights have unfortunate consequences.  Besides, no one likes a douchebag)

§         To live by honour and for glory

(Ah, now we’re hitting the parts of the Code that the feminists really don’t like. Hono(u)r and Glory.  I think the best explanation of Honor I ever heard came from Liam Neeson in the movie Rob Roy: 

“Honor is the gift you pay yourself for doing what is right.”  

Not what is “good” or what is “socially just” or what is “culturally expected” or what is “mandated by society”, but what is right.  That implies a judgment call on the part of the gentleman seeking to live by Honor, and the fact is that one gentleman’s judgment about honor might conflict with another’s, and that causes conflict. A knight who was honorably serving his lord by evicting a peasant widow and her six kids might run afoul of a knight errant who felt compelled by the Code to protect them and give them succor, which is honorable in itself.  If that meant that the two might fight – risking both of their lives on the outcome – then that was mutually understood as being the Honorable thing to do under the circumstances.  Both are right, even if one might come across as “evil” in some moral estimations, and the other would come across as “stupid” in others.) 

The point I’m trying to make here is that the Code of Chivalry not only mandates some individual value judgments on the part of its adherents, it also implies a respect for the value judgments of others, even when you disagree with them.  It’s an intangible motivator and one that is not open to debate by disinterested parties.  Honor is a very personal thing, regardless of your culture, and under the Code of Chivalry it was an intensely personal thing, something you would risk your life over. 

And then there is Glory.  Feminists hate that one, too.  Seeking Glory is un-egalitarian, unfair, and elitist, according to most male-bashers.  Glory is the acclaim you get for doing something well, for achievement – a traditionally male balewick.  Female societies emphasize the importance of group consensus and accord, not individual success.  Remember, a highly successful woman is a target and a threat in the Female Social Matrix.  A woman who distinguishes herself makes all the other women look bad, and upsets their delicate social balance.

In male society, on the other hand, success is highly regarded and rewarded with status and treasure.  Successful men are attractive.  Wildly successful men are irresistible.  Men who achieve and then have the temerity to enjoy the results of that success, including the acclaim, respect and admiration of their peers, are indulging in Glory, and are commonly seen as elitist by feminists (unless they are championing a feminist cause).  To feminists, Glory is to be despised, because if you do great things the last thing you should do is want to get the credit for it... if you’re a man. 

But how man men have been talked out of achievement by women who have scorned the pursuit of Glory, even as they demand security and success?  How many men have grown up feeling ashamed of their own achievements because they’ve been taught that pursuing Glory is wrong?  Glory and Honor go hand-in-hand in the Code. 

§         To despise pecuniary reward

(This might be a strong statement, because in point-of-fact the medieval knights were all about reward.  The thing was, they saw the best reward as land, daughters of powerful nobles, and as rights and privileges not enjoyed by the peasantry.  Money?  Most medieval knights couldn’t count to twenty without taking off their shoes.  Doing anything for real clinking money instead of waiting to be rewarded by your lord for your service was considered “common” for a reason.   As a knight your honor is unstainable, and taking coin from someone to do violence on their behalf removes your ability to decide whether they needed killing in the first place.  Killing on behalf of your lord was different, however, as the moral issue was kicked up the aristocratic stairs and being faithful to your lord – a chivalric virtue – was its own reward, bringing you honor, if not glory and land.  This statute was designed to keep a highly trained and effective warrior from becoming a base mercenary, although it had only limited effectiveness.
But it did emphasize that the motivation of the knight is Grace, not obligation.  Money changing hands implies an obligation.)

§         To fight for the welfare of all

(This was a tricky one, and open to interpretation when the question of just which of the “all” got the most “welfare” when your sword came into play.   But as a good rule of thumb it worked: when the French were invaded by the English in the early days of the 100 Year War, this tenant of the code allowed the French nobility to eschew their petty wars for a couple of years to drive back the English dogs as a united force (before settling down to treat with them as feudal neighbors, entitled to the same respect and honor that the French nobility were accorded).  If nothing else, this prohibited those who practiced the code from committing acts of banditry or cowardice, and emphasized public service in the form of defense.  At its best, this element of the code inspired many a knight to a glorious death in the service of a higher purpose.)

§         To obey those placed in authority

(A knight obeyed his lord.  Obey – a very strong word, and one you don’t hear very often these days.  Obedience was another cornerstone of feudal society, and practically it means that there’s always a bigger fish out there in a pond.  If your lord decides that some other baron in his lands is a better leader than you, then he’ll make him general and you must listen to him, if you are to maintain your honor.  And this tenant of the code makes following even incompetent orders an honorable pursuit, shielding a knight from disgrace for failure due to poor leadership.  Beyond that, it valorizes an important element of Chivalry, Service, in a very specific way.  There was no shame or dishonor in service in the Middle Ages – on the contrary, even senior nobles counted it as a great honor to be chosen to wait upon their superiors, and honorable service often brought great rewards.)

§         To guard the honour of fellow knights

(Here’s another tenant of Chivalry that isn’t often talked about.  And it’s despised by feminists, because they see it as the genesis of the “Old Boy's Club” they’ve been fighting against since their inception.  These noble warriors of high social status and great wealth did, indeed, choose to back each other up, to protect each other’s reputations, to not deceive each other, and yes, to offer each other special considerations.  When you are counting on the knight next door to watch your flank in battle, pissing him off by treating his honor callously is not a good idea.  So guarding your fellow knight’s honor as you would your own, that became a powerful bonding force between men.)

§         To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit.

(If it’s a bad idea to cheat or lie to your fellow knights, it’s probably a bad idea for you to do it to the peasants, too, at least when anyone important is looking.  But this was another practical consideration, for these men weren’t just military, they were also the secular rulers of their lands, empowered to sit in judgment over all in their domains.  A knight who developed a reputation for meanness and deceit during his rise might be respected as a wiley warrior, but it's unlikely many men would want to become his vassals if they knew they couldn’t count on his loyalty and fairness.  Whereas knights who cultivated a reputation for fairness and just dealings, like the famous Sir William Marshal, became widely respected, if not renowned.)

§         To keep faith

(Of course during the Middle Ages the emphasis here was on religious faith, but it also played up the role of trustworthiness in a noble warrior.  Keeping faith was a matter of living up to promises made, despite the circumstances.  It was also to remind the knight to stay true to his ideals, loyal to his church and lord, and represent himself as one who keeps his promises.)

§         At all times to speak the truth

(This is also a no-brainer.  A warrior who lies or is deceitful to his friends can’t be relied upon in combat.  Of course, it’s a lot easier to lie when everyone expects everything you say to be truthful, so you can assume that there was a lot of equivocation about this one. )

§         To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun

(Another important matter for the military.  A well-trained warrior who quits on the mission before it is done is useless.  Finishing what you start is a powerful masculine trait that was enshrined in the code because it attracts like-minded go-getters and impresses the girls.  It also gets impossible things done.  That kind of tenacity and devotion were hallmarks of chivalry.)

§         To respect the honour of women

(This is different than respecting women, just for being women.  To respect a woman’s honor in the Middle Ages was not just a prohibition against rape, molestation and abuse of the female peasantry by the powerful nobility (which it was, kinda), it was to respect the role of women in medieval life as mothers, wives, and nuns.  That included respecting her reputation enough not to get rumors started about her after you shagged her rotton while her husband was away on Crusade.  Note this is different than being a directive to protect every little piece of silk and fluff that doesn’t have the brains to come in out of the rain.  It is an admonition to respect the idea of the honorable woman.)

§         Never to refuse a challenge from an equal

(This goes without saying.  And you probably wouldn’t refuse a challenge from a better, either.)

§         Never to turn the back upon a foe

(Running away isn’t chivalrous.  Standing to fight until the last possible breath is.  Even when you know you’re going to die, you’re going to lose, and the battle is pointless.  There is honor in this.)

So to sum up, you can look at the essentials of chivalry as: 

Be a Heroic Badass,
Don’t be a Selfish Douche.  

That’s the elegant beauty of true Chivalry, the amazing contrast that exists in someone who has trained to purposefully kill other people for a living yet chooses not to use that power lightly or thoughtlessly in ways that piss people off and lower property values.

But it doesn’t quite stop there.  Because the fact is it wasn’t required for a heavy cavalryman in the middle ages to be a knight, or even live up to chivalric ideals. You could be a badass and a douche and do quite well for yourself: hot and cold running peasant girls, an up-scale castle, a regular paying gig oppressing the peasants, the sweet life.  

You didn’t have to do any of that chivalrous stuff.  It was, in other words, not an obligation.

And that’s the thing: chivalry can’t be compelled because it can’t be compelled.  If someone is forced to give up their seat on a bus to a pregnant woman, for instance, he isn’t being chivalrous he’s being compliant, if the act was done as a social obligation.  Am I advocating not giving up the seat?  Of course not.  And it could even be considered a chivalrous act.  But it’s better understood as good manners, not chivalry.

Chivalry comes from Grace.  Not in the religious sense, exactly, but the fact is that true Chivalry can only come about because the man in question has decided, for no other reason than he wants to do it and has the Power to do it, to exercise his Power To Destroy (and Defend) on behalf of another.  Chivalry must spring from Grace or it isn’t Chivalry, just like true Charity can’t be compelled, or it’s not Charity but taxation.  Chivalrous behavior cannot be expected from men, it can only be given, freely and without equivication.  Indeed, to impose a social expectation of Chivalry on a man these days and hold him to it would be disappointing to everyone involved. 

Chivalry isn’t politeness or manners or etiquette, although a chivalrous gentleman is almost always well-versed in all three.  Chivalry isn’t generosity, although most chivalrous gentlemen are generous to a fault.  And while Chivalry no longer implies that you have to be willing to strap on armor, climb on a horse, and collide with unfriendly strangers who are trying to kill you, there can be no doubt that you can’t be a Betazoid and still be chivalrous.  

As Dalrock haspointed out in his stunning series of posts on the subject, Chivalry must come freely from a place of strength, not weakness.  It’s not about your ability as a killer, it is about your ability to be strong in the face of adversity and your willingness to act in a time of need.  While both of those things are terribly useful to a warrior in battle, they also apply to most situations in your life.

We have grown up with a sense of shame about our capacity to be violent.  But instead of ignoring it as the curse of masculinity, properly understood the Power to Destroy and Defend is perhaps the greatest single power we have.  As 9-11 taught us, we are never too advanced as a civilization to outgrow the need to respond to violence with more violence.  It sucks, but that's part of the price for being human, for being a man.  When the zombies are coming, I'm sure you feminists will be more than happy to accept our big, muscular, violence-prone protection.

And if means a couple of grateful slave girls afterwards, bonus.

When it comes to manifesting the Power to Destroy and Defend in your own life, most of you have already taken the first step by regular exercise or rough play to build muscles, coordination, reflexes, etc.  This is where the world of Sports came from, the desire to train and test ourselves before battle.  If you are self-aware enough about your own capacity for violence you may have taken a martial art or firearms.  But the idea that we are all just a calamity away to being reduced to uncivilized violent thugs preying on our fellow human beings should at least make you consider your own inner-Conan, and how you may best cultivate him without letting him rule your life.  That primal buzz is necessary, don't get me wrong, but you really don't want to do that at your sister's wedding or the kid's Christmas pageant.

So go out there, Gentlemen, and learn to be a Bad Ass.

But don't be a douchebag.


  1. Most importantly, chivalry is an agreement between men.

    Not between men and women.

    1. An outstanding observation. Women do not participate in chivalry except as its occasional subjects.

  2. Then again, in the word of Kipling - "The Female of the species is much deadlier than male"

    But Kipling attributes that to the fact that in a Female the Destruction is unbridled - not backed by any controls what so ever.

    Also - just blatantly using this comment as a reason to quote one of my most favorite poems.

    Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
    The Female of the Species

    WHEN the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
    He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
    But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
    He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can.
    But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
    They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
    'Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    Man's timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
    For the Woman that God gave him isn't his to give away;
    But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other's tale—
    The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    Man, a bear in most relations—worm and savage otherwise,—
    Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
    Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
    To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

    Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
    To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
    Mirth obscene diverts his anger—Doubt and Pity oft perplex
    Him in dealing with an issue—to the scandal of The Sex!

    But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
    Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
    And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
    The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

    She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
    May not deal in doubt or pity—must not swerve for fact or jest.
    These be purely male diversions—not in these her honour dwells—
    She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

    She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great
    As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate.
    And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim
    Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

    She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties;
    Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!—
    He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
    Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

    Unprovoked and awful charges—even so the she-bear fights,
    Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites,
    Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
    And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw!

    So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
    With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
    Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
    To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.

    And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
    Must command but may not govern—shall enthral but not enslave him.
    And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
    That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

    1. Thanks for posting that!

      I won't disagree -- don't forget the Greeks (themselves profound students of human nature) had Warfare split up between Ares and Athena -- for a reason. There is a feminine side to destruction and defense. But the Conan "Fight it, Fuck it, Or Throw Rocks At It" attitude is much different from the "Just wait until he's asleep . . ." style of female belligerence.

  3. Great post!!! I've always considered myself "the Red Sonia-style female warrior" I've defended / stood up for many, many women and at least one man against men often way bigger / stronger than me (always using words but not really caring if they made it physical...figuring that I'd survive or suffer or die for a value that is worth the sacrifice) BUT, where is my Conan??? That is what I have always wanted....the man who can "top" me, dominant me but not because I am pretending to be weak so that he appears strong to both of us....I've done that so that the man feels good about himself, but it makes it hard for me to admire/respect/fear/obey him. Find me, Conan! Find me!!! ;-)

    1. You're going to have a hard time, I'm afraid. Thanks to four decades of casual erosion of masculinity, men in America have shied away from that kind of dominant personae even if they have the bod to carry it off. That being said, extraordinary individuals exist within both genders, and you have never had more resources at your disposal for tracking Conan down, hitting him over the head with your club, and dragging him back to your ship.

      I understand the "faking it" about male confidence, and I assure you that when it's detected it's kind of painful. But when it is not, it can be a big deal. When you're down on yourself or some project or mission, sometimes some flattering encouragement from your woman is enough to make you move mountains. But when you get busted "limping" on purpose so that he can feel big and strong, yeah . . . that's problematic.

      So find your Conan, and then once you've decided to mate, do it with abandon, energy, and a mind towards the Long Term. 'Cause more than likely his natural inclination isn't going to be to settle down. You'll have to prove to him that there's more adventure with you than without you, and that can be hard.

      Good luck!

    2. Yes, having a hard time indeed. As a (male) actor friend of mine once commented [on the decline of traditional masculinity in the U.S.], "there are no American men left in Hollywood who can convincingly play leading man roles (John Wayne types), we have to import them all from Australia and even they are getting a bit feminized in recent yrs."

      Yeah, giving the supportive, well-timed compliment / words of encouragement is great and bolsters a man's confidence. But yeah, it's never fun to pretend that I'm uncertain when I am not, scared when I am not, unable to open a jar when I can. I have had a few female roommates over the yrs and I always wind up being the guy (opening jars, killing bugs, dealing w/ the blown fuse, taking out the trash, fixing the toilet, moving heavy furniture). Most women are so fragile, delicate, (cough) useless. But it's my flaw (as perceived by men) that I am resilient, brave and capable. I really need to learn how to remember that I need to ask men to do things I can do (move heavy objects, kill bugs).

      What I hope will be my only saving grace with the Conans of the world is that I want commitment from them, but NOT monogamy/fidelity. The former is nice because we can be a team and brave this world together united; the latter is an unrealistic expectation that women have of men b/c they think that men equate love & sxx. They don't.

  4. Interesting that you use the term Bad Ass, which implies just being awesome. Similar to this is a product that I bought and have found to be excellent with a similar title, the Tao of Bad Ass. Joshua Pellicer has a firm handle on attracting women by being a strong, confident man, one who is in control of his life and, to use his words, a complete bad ass.

    What impresses me most about Pellicer's instructional material is that it maintains respect for women, which you could say is the same as "not being a douchebag". He doesn't present them as lessor beings or that it is okay to unfairly manipulate them. The focus is making yourself the best version of yourself you can me (a lot like Athol Kay's MAP), which if done right, makes you very attractive to women. It is less about game, but about being in control of yourself.

    This isn't an advertisement, but a recommendation from someone who has greatly benefited from the awesome works of Mr. Ironwood, Mr. Kay and Mr. Pellicer. Thank you all for helping out of the blue pill, and being able to see the female games for what they are, and avoid them.

    1. I would argue that it isn't less about Game, it's an iteration of Game. Game, at the heart of it, is the conscious manipulation of your own presentation in order to provide a strong enough Alpha to get laid -- a noble goal. And the easiest way to become a master of Game is to actually become the thing you are trying to emulate, i.e. the carefully-controlled, self confident Alpha bad ass. I mean, it's a lot easier to BE an Alpha Bad Ass than it is to fake it convincingly over time.

      As far as respecting women . . . there's a lot of perceived disrespect for women in the Manosphere, but in all honestly I feel that flows more from a place of righteous anger and frustration than it does actual contempt. The fact is, one can be aware -- and wary -- of the differences in our genders without attempting to apply masculine standards to women and condemn them for their failure to meet it. One can respect a woman -- and all women -- without feeling compelled to kiss their collective ass or unnecessarily concede to them constantly.

      In other words, I love my wife. But Mrs. Ironwood has pissed me off more than any other human being alive at some points. So I can love her, respect her, see her as a partner in this endeavor and treat with her in good faith . . . and still think she kinda sucks sometimes. That's the key. Neither man nor woman is either naturally 'good' or 'evil', they are merely different -- and by understanding those complementary differences and being familiar with the intricacies of feminine sexual psychology and evolutionary biology, I can appreciate her in context of the aggregate femininity, as well as develop effective Wife Management strategies.

      We love 'em. We respect 'em. But they still piss us off sometimes. That isn't justification to be a douche, but for some women I can understand how they might inspire that in a man with less control than I.

  5. Interesting stuff. I don't agree that testosterone is the source of violence though. Aside from that sounding like a feminist cliche, studies show increasing testosterone does not lead to aggression. I recently read that it can actually calm people, which could anecdotally explain why men are generally more even-tempered than women. I'm not a scientist though, you can google "testosterone aggression violence" for the different studies.

    Great blog.

    1. I think most recent studies are suggesting that testosterone increases status-striving or ambition, which, depending on what particular means is the best for obtaining status, can lead to violence.

    2. From 2011

      The role of testosterone in social interaction
      Christoph Eisenegger, Johannes Haushofer and Ernst Fehr

      "Although animal researchers established the role of testosterone as a ‘social hormone’ decades ago, the investigation of its causal influence on human social behaviors has only recently begun. Here, we review and discuss recent studies showing the causal effects of testosterone on social interactions in animals and humans, and outline the basic neurobiological mechanisms that might underlie these effects. Based on these recent findings, we argue that the role of testosterone in human social behavior might be best understood in terms of the search for, and maintenance of, social status."

  6. I am a scientist. There is certainly a link between T and aggression. Roid rage, anyone? I'll see if I can find some stuff I read a while back about transgendered F to M who were taking T.

  7. You obviously know fuck-all about medieval warfare. The armoured knight arrived WAAAAAY later than the Dark Ages, and didn't last long into the era of missile weapons that placed the power to kill in the hands of simple folks - the longbow first, but that required time, then the crossbow and handgun. Twat.

    1. Arguable. The mounted heavy cavalryman was the staple of the continental military forces, even before the advent of stirrups. The code of proto-chivalry associated with the armored horseman can be traced to before the fall of the Roman Empire, to the Germanic and Celtic warrior societies. That includes the comitatus of the Beowulf Epic, the warrior societies of the Celtic Trinobates tribe which successfully defended Britain from Julius Caesar, and the warrior cults of the German mercenaries employed to guard the Rhine during the late Empire. I think a 25 year long career studying the intricacies of warrior societies across the world and throughout history entitle me to a more meaningful understanding of medieval warfare than the chivalry exemplified by Sir William Marshal, for instance, or his Breton counterpart. I'm inclusive of the "knights" of Charlemagne as represented in the Chanson de Roland, and include the influences of the Moors and other Moslem warrior societies in my thesis, both of which are dreadfully out of period for your objection.

      But I apparently know "fuck all" about medieval warfare. Try expanding your conception of what knighthood is, and read a fucking book, bitch.

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