The Times posed a question to a number of opinion-sharers:
A 2010 Harris poll found that 80 percent of Americans think that women are treated with less chivalry today than in the past. Is it time for the once-romantic and noble concept to peter out, or should it evolve to be more inclusive for our liberated and cynical age?
Editor-in-chief of the blog “The Art of Manliness,” Brett McKay stepped out of line and made some assertions based upon—gasp!—the differences between the sexes:
If we can have legislation that implies that men are (generally) physically stronger and women are (generally) more vulnerable and thus require federally mandated protection, is it really wrong, and could it not actually be beneficial, to have some social rituals that serve as a symbol and reminder of these differences between the sexes?
His view was balanced out by the expected feminist oblivion of Ms. Collazo:
Chivalry is a behavior that masquerades as a courtesy while concealing a dramatic assertion of inequality between the sexes. There is no way around it: it’s about viewing women as fragile, delicate creatures who require special treatment. And it needs to die.
Whether or not the old concept of chivalry is the right approach to the relationship between men and women and represents the best way to honor those differences, I don’t know. What we think of as chivalry today is likely a caricature of what it really was, arising from a post-Christian interpretation of the culture from which it arose. A Christian Medievalist (like Lewis or Wilson) could give an answer.
Scripture happily defines and divides and distinguishes and delineates. A few verses come to mind that will help us answer the question of how men who desire to revel in (obey) God’s creation order should relate to women. Let these verses sink in. Feel their countercultural glory.
- The Holy Spirit’s exhortation to the young man Timothy regarding his relationships to a number of other demographics: “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Tim. 5:1-2).
- The Holy Spirit’s exhortation to husbands: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker (or, as the NASB has in the margins, “the weaker vessel”), since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
Men are commanded to treat women as “mothers,” “sisters,” “weaker vessels,” and “fellow heirs.” Accordingly, men are required to treat women with respect, with purity, with protection, and with honor.
The modern feminist would jettison all of that glory for one thing: absolute equality (see Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” to understand how I’m using that word). Men are now obligated not to respect what is weak, not to feel any necessity to protect (sexually and physically) what is weak, not to honor what is weak. That sort of equality requires men to treat women only and always as equals. It makes a heartless coward of every man and a shrew of every woman.