These posts generated more comments, pro and con, than any appearing here before or since.
There were many more bouquets than brickbats thrown, but the latter certainly stirred the pot. Some of the objections I anticipated, but I was a little surprised when several readers took exception with Beckie’s statement regarding the military traditions of chivalry: “In the military, men have been trained and are willing to suffer painful death to protect all females. The military teaches men how to honor and respect women.”
One online friend, Obedient husband, wrote, “All I remember is extensive training that focused on staying alive and protecting your fellow soldiers… the only training I ever got regarding women revolved around avoiding STD's and (later in my career) avoiding sexual harassment type trouble.”
Reader Allen rallied to Beckie’s defense: “My father fought in WWII, in the Pacific. He faced many horrors that affected him emotionally for life, many he will not talk about. Among some of the ones he has told are what the Japanese did to women in occupied lands. We visited him this weekend and kind of asked him about what Beckie said. He is 90 but still has a sharp mind. He stated without hesitation that he and every man he served with would have given their life to protect any woman, they were trained that way both in the home and in the military.”
I echoed Allen: “I, too, formed the definite impression that Beckie was referring to these traditions, which seem to hearken all the way back to the medieval institution of knighthood (the word ‘chivalry’ derives from ‘chevalier’) and courtly love. Your story about your father’s private soldier’s code was especially poignant. Knighthood, chivalry and courtly love are all cornerstones of Wife Worship, at least as set forth by Lady Misato, and in everything I have written on the topic.”
A more passionate statement of this warrior code is quoted in my book (p. 69) from an anonymous wife-worshipper: “I think it is part of male genetics to want to be brave for the ones we love. Powerful hormones course through our systems, and we are ready to give our all to serve and defend these beautiful, nurturing, challenging, life-giving, playful, wondrous women.”
This accords perfectly with viewing marriage as “perpetual courtship,” with the husband as chivalrous suitor of his wife’s favors. But the truth is, when I think of a super-chivalrous knight errant, it is not Sir Walter Raleigh whom I conjure, nor Galahad nor Lancelot, nor Superman or Spiderman. No, the man I think of as the embodiment of the modern chivalric warrior is George S. Patton.
I offer in evidence the following anecdote from the 1920s, featuring Patton as a dashing young major and a highly decorated hero fresh from his exploits in World War I:
“[Patton] had an opportunity to combine pleasure with a little heroics when his attendance at a horse show led to an act of chivalry. On a summer night in 1922, while driving his roadster from [a] horse show to his hotel in Garden City, [Long Island], he spotted three rough-looking hombres with a damsel in apparent distress. They seemed to be pushing the girl into the back of a truck. Patton stopped his car, jumped out and forced the men at gunpoint to release the young woman. Then it developed that the girl was the fiancée of one of the men, who merely were helping her to climb into the truck.
“The incident was reminiscent of Don Quixote’s encounter with the six merchants of Toledo on the road to Murcia and his spirited defense of Dulcinea’s unquestioned virtue.”*
It was no accident that the young major was armed. “I always carry a pistol,” Patton explained later, “ even when I’m dressed in white tie and tails.”
Nor was his knight-errant-to-the-rescue act an aberration. Back in 1912, a twenty-seven-year-old Patton competed in the Stockholm Olympics in the modern pentathlon, which had been expressly created by the International Olympic Committee as a tournament for modern knights. According to the IOC, “This 20th century cavalier must be able to overcome all obstacles that may confront him in carrying out his knightly mission. With the pistol or dueling sword he engages in personal combat; with any available horse he swiftly rides across country; the unfordable stream he swims; and he finishes on foot.”
Patton entered the modern pentathlon with little training and no sponsorship, paying his own way to and from Stockholm, and placed fifth in the competition.
I'm not saying, mind you, that Patton would agree to expand the definition of chivalrous endeavor to include the kind of daily domestic dragon-slaying practiced by contemporary, service-oriented wife worshippers--e.g., washing and ironing, dusting and vacuuming, as well as offering milady more intimate services. He might even wax profane on the matter. But he and we can certainly close ranks on the subject of the exaltation and protection of womanhood.