Thoughts on Friendship and Chivalry

James Higham has written a thought-provoking post over at Nourishing Obscurity on the behaviours of modern women.  Rather than quote it at length I’ll advise you go and read it in full, but there are two things I wanted to expand on, separately.

The first:

In childhood, I had a mate who had a younger sister and she was rather nice looking, smiled a lot etc. Someone joked about him fancying her, to which he replied we had to be kidding, she was a right little bitch, he had to deal with her every day.

There is a persistent belief among some women (and maybe this also applies to men) that they are suited for a romantic relationship because they have friends.  I’ve known women who, struggling in a relationship in part due to an inability to compromise and/or communicate properly, rush off and speak to their friends who give them advice along the lines of “Fuck him, there’s nothing wrong with you, if he can’t accept you as you are, dump his ass!”  More often than not they’ll follow this advice rather than listen to what the man is telling her.  Leaving aside the whole issue of women’s “friends” and whether their advice is sincere or self-serving, it misses the point that – as James’ pal noted – having to deal with somebody in an intimate relationship in terms of compromises, values, and communication is a very different beast than being somebody’s mate.  I have fantastic, close, and long-lasting friendships with both men and women but I’d not want to have to interact with them with the frequency, intensity, and emotions that a romantic engagement requires.  And I can assure you that not a single damned one of them would want to do the same with me!

The second:

The obvious rejoinder was and still is – that we males are no great shakes either by our own lights – slovenly, brusque, uncaring, insensitive, making bad jokes and disrespecting wimmin.

Methinks wimmin would be well advised today to consider the reintroduction of chivalry.  Not only did it offer protection, in that any man nearby would have stepped in to help her in dire need, but it then afforded her great power of negotiation, especially regarding her body.

Back in the summer I was talking to a friend and colleague, a French lady who works as an engineer in the oil industry.  She has worked in a variety of countries and cultures, but told me the worst place she’d been in terms of harassment and disrespectful remarks was a platform in the British sector of the North Sea.  To say that this surprised me would be a gross understatement: it blew me away.  Argumentative though I am, when confronted with something rather unexpected like this I occasionally shut the fuck up and try to figure it out.  It didn’t take me long.

Back in my university days – 1996-2000 – we had a period which the tabloids and Radio 1 called the era of the “ladettes”, when British celebrities such as Denise Van Outen, Melanie Sykes, Zoë Ball, the Spice Girls, and others were throwing off the patriarchal chains and shamelessly behaving like lads in a drunken, boisterous, and crude manner.  Not only was this gleefully covered by the tabloid media, but it was positively encouraged by a branch of modern feminism which thought equality for women ought to take the form of adopting the worst behaviour in young, British men.  It wasn’t pretty.

Now I’m something between a libertarian and a classical liberal, and so I believe that if these women – or any others – want to drink themselves into oblivion on alcoholic mouthwash and make idiots of themselves in kebab houses at 3am, that’s their business.  But such liberties are also extended to those of us who observe such behaviour and pass judgement, which includes deciding how such women ought to be treated in terms of subsequent personal relations.  And when this was going on, huge swathes of Britain’s menfolk did just that: they observed women adopting their own worst behaviour and reached the inevitable conclusion that they were no different and therefore shouldn’t be treated as such.  Treat them like men, in other words: speak to them coarsely, get them drunk, pass crude remarks on their appearance, and use them for indiscriminate sex with no commitment beyond a genuine attempt to not throw up in the process.  Isn’t equal treatment what the feminists wanted?  Well, now they’ve got it.

Little wonder, then, that oil workers on the North Sea platforms don’t treat women in a respectful manner: they’ve seen their womenfolk’s behaviour and decided they are not worthy of respect.  Of course, this came as a shock to my French friend who hails from a culture where certain old-fashioned behavioural standards among women are still adhered to and hence the menfolk afford them a respect which by English standards is almost quaint.  Ask yourself if you’ve ever seen a middle class French woman blind drunk, falling over, and having sex behind a bin.  They’d die of shame first.  Whereas my French friend did say she had a limited amount of admiration and envy for the British girls who could go out dressed in anything they liked and behave however they wanted, she did not wish to replicate such behaviour herself.

I don’t think Britain should return to the 1950s, before the sexual revolution set the current train in motion.  There were practices and attitudes that needed to be abandoned, and thankfully were.  But I can’t help thinking we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater, here.  Having mocked the traditional, chivalrous, English gent of the pre-1950s into extinction, women are now rather distressed to find he has been replaced by a boorish oaf.  Whose fault is that, then?

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Friendship and Chivalry

  1. “I don’t think we should return to the observation deck of the Empire State Building — it was breezy up there, and I don’t like heights — but I absolutely think we should stop short of actually *landing* on the pavement.”

  2. This is going to get a bit incestuous, I fear but you make some good extra points here, which need to be tacked on the end of the original post.

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