sometimes i wonder where chivalry has gone, and i lament i shall never find it again. this is the modern age, i know, of capitalism, consumerism, women holding more of the spending power and making up the majority percentage of marketing brackets. women demand what they want, speak up in the board room, and are more likely to kick some mugger's ass with her Tai Bo kickboxing than scream for help. women are bitches and it's a compliment. women go for what they want and are queens of their lives.
and It Was Good.
me, however? while not of an older generation, i have an older spirit and cherish the old code. some things, then, remain confusing to me. the women's movement of the 70's was a wonderful breakthrough in the concept of equality and freedom for all individuals. i know we have a ways to go (e.g. same-sex marriage), but it was a fantastic start.
however, somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the original goal of the movement: freedom of choice.
in magic, the most powerful act a witch can perform is to change her mind. thought is power, i've said this before. our thoughts shape our realities. but as a girl growing up, it was driven into me that i would be independent, able to take care of myself in every capacity, and be at the mercy of no man. my education was my ticket to this freedom. i would make no choice that relinquished an iota of this freedom, this power.
i was no child of the barrio, to whom a scholarship or military position was a way out of the projects. i lived in the middle class of the early 80's, went to a private school, and had as my role-models some very talented and educated adults who taught me to think and perform my gifts and skills to the best of my ability. i was given piano and voice lessons to hone my inherited musical talents. i was blessed with a very sharp mind, and had a genius for the liberal arts and communication. "armed" with these "powerful weapons," as my bio-dad would say, i would go very far in this world and make him proud. i would be a lawyer and champion causes for mi familia, or perhaps be a diva at the metropolitan opera house and bring glory to la familia.
all for la familia, and i would never want for anything. never would i dread my husband returning home, never would i be beaten and dragged around the house by my hair, unable to escape because my lack of education barred me from ever getting a decent job and thus couldn't support myself.
in this, my bio-dad was a success. i am an intelligent, self-sufficient woman able to make my own choices and support my own needs.
however, something was always lacking. i could see the subtle beauty in walking a step behind a man, the gentle protection in a man who spoke for a woman in public, the respect in helping a woman out of a car. true chivalry is more than holding a door open for a woman, or ordering for her when out at a restaurant. it's more than simply doing these things.
it is the understanding of why these things are done.
by the old code, a knight was a lady's champion, offering her protection in a world where she might come to harm. anyone with sense knew better than to molest a knight's lady, for he would pursue them to defend her honor. in this world of women's rights, license to carry a concealed weapon, and martial arts defense classes, it's been proven a thousand times over a woman is quite capable of protecting herself.
this is not the point.
men were made to protect and provide, to act, and to do. women were made to love and to nurture, to intuit, and to create. i believe this. women's energy blossoms to its fullest when it is creating and nurturing, loving and caring. (true, not all women are like this, but of course it's just understood i'm talking in generalities.) men's energy shines its strongest when they are protecting and providing for their homes, acting and doing. the balance of male and female energy comes when they act in synergy, addressing the balance of yin and yang, acting to the fullest in the ways nature made us strongest and enabling our partner to do the same. being women makes men better able to be men, and vice versa. and we love them for it.
i would love a man who could protect me, and provide for our home. if he loved the idea of my staying at home to raise our children and make our house a home, it would make me happiest. let him provide for our home, while i remained behind and built the foundation of that home. now, in this day of two-income families, i understand if that's not possible, and that's fine, too. i love my career and i am happy in it.
it's the mentality i cherish, the deep-seated respect for both genders, their roles, their strengths, and their weaknesses. in the old code, there was no room for selfish sexism, only an appreciation for and understanding of the sacred duty to support and foster the strengths of your opposite by living up to the full potential of your own gender. this way created synergy.
sexism came, and upset the balance.
feminism came to redress it, but in its wake left generations of girls who grew into women confused and feeling guilty if they wanted to choose anything other than the freedom to do everything yourself, be a bitch, and take what you want. that works in the corporate world, but it sorely fails to address the balance needed in a more intimate union. if i ever said i wanted to be a stay at home mom, i was met with a lot of apprehension, or outright disgust. when i said i was made to be One of Two, i had "you don't need a man to complete you!" thrown at me from so many angles it made my head spin and my heart hurt. when i said, "i want another baby," i got scoffed at and was told not to be a disgusting slave to the base animal drive to procreate. i was told to smash the goddamned biological clock already. i was asked if i'd thought things through, if i wasn't absolutely sure because, sheesh, i had so much more freedom in my single life!
i'm sure they meant well, but family and friends had been programmed by the women's movement whether they knew it or not, but had no inkling of the true goal: freedom of choice. how can it be said i am truly free to choose if no one will permit me to choose to reject the model of the Independent Woman of the New Millennium? of the Uber-Bitch? of the Corporate Dragon Lady who is just as comfortable in $500 prada heels as she is in combat boots? in my religion, barefoot and pregnant is a position of ultimate power and holiness, as i stand connected to the life within me and the life of the Mother beneath my very feet.
where is the man who will order for me in a restaurant, hold the door open for me, help me with my coat? where is the man who stands when i enter or leave a room because he understands the power i hold as a woman, and knows i grant him the same respect and show it in how i keep his home and raise our children? men have it in them to be knights-errant, to be noble and just, strong and respectful and deeply loving. women have it in them to be humble and surrendering, for to be humble is to have the ability to truly show gratitude for those tokens of affection men bring to us through virtue of their abilities, like opening a difficult pickle jar or retrieving the wine glasses on the top shelf that are too high to reach. to be surrendering is to relinquish the desire to control the outcome and every aspect of a relationship we can't control, anyway. to be surrendering is to accept him the way he is, and to appreciate his abilities and show gratitude for the ways he shows his love.
men know we can open the jar ourselves, but they do it for us because men do things, and they do to show their love.
men like women who are soft and delicate, who don't try to change him, who have a pretty smile, a beautiful heart, and a brilliant brain. women like to be and feel pretty, to have soft skin and painted toenails, to be liked for who we are, and to show how smart we are. they like us when we are exactly as we already like to be. why, then, is there such a battle between the sexes when there can be such glorious harmony?
the concept of courtly love took sex out of the equation, for often the knight's lady was in some way unattainable -- whether it be social status, distance, or some other factor. thus it became necessary for a lady and her knight to rise above lust and infatuation, and create some other foundation for their relationship. they had to learn to love, honor, and cherish one another.
and thus was the tapestry of the old code woven: love, honor, and charity.
"the motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one."
honore de balzac (1841)