Monday, December 12, 2011

A Modern Galahad

Back in the fall of last year, I ran a couple of guest posts on “Female Superiority & Wife Worship” by “Beckie Sue.”

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.

* From Patton: Ordeal and Triumph by Ladislas Farrago. NY: Dell, 1963, p. 106. This is the book that Francis Ford Coppola adapted for his Oscar-winning screenplay, Patton.


Mknight said...

I will say this about Patton and other men of that era. That part of guarding women was to protect them from the cruel world, this rational was used to keep women from taking active and meaningful part in the world. While it may be nice to day dream of a world that has men working both in and out of the home while the women do nothing but play by denying any part of the world to any part of humanity we run the risk of being right back in the 1920's mind set. Just think of all the innovation and possible good that mankind lost for spending centuries not educating or even counting half of its population.

Mark Remond said...

For some reason this comment has not shown up on the blog, so I'm reposting it here:

I'm-Hers has left a new comment on "A Modern Galahad":

I know the point you are trying to make but I don't agree at all with Becky's comment “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.”
I have a Marine son. I can say that he NEVER was taught that the reason he was in the military was for the purpose of honoring and paying respect to women. I would dare say that if you took comments from those that either have served or who have sons or daughters that have served (and who have talked to them about that experience) that you will get similar viewpoints.
It's interesting that you wrote this as I was just looking back through my son's facebook in which he has several hundred pics posted. I noticed the pics of him in Iraq and came away with one thought - how sad he looked - no joy, no life, just doing his time and trying to stay alive. When he shared about fellow men dying, about what it was like to see a soldier get his legs blown off by an RPG, what it was like to detonate plastic explosives and absolutley destroy a home filled with 'bad guys' it sickens me. He wasn't there because he wanted to keep his girlfriend or sister or mom alive and to honor them. He was there because Uncle Sam told him to go.
I agree that women are valued treasures. I agree that given the choice that men should submit to them but I disagree that the PURPOSE of the military as Becky states is dead wrong. Just my humble opinion. Thanks for taking the time to express your thoughts.

Mark Remond said...

Now that I've reposted I'm Hers' excellent comment, let me defend my position. Actually, I take no issue with his well-stated and obviously deeply felt disagreement with what he thought was my premise, or Beckie Sue's, for that matter.

What I think she was getting at, and what I certainly was, had nothing to do with the politics of the draft or the Vietnam War or Operation Iraqi Freedom, etc.

I used Patton as an archetype of the warrior, one of the 7 basic professions, it says somewhere. And these guys are indeed charged with protecting all the rest of us, but most especially the womenfolk and children. That's why the Neanderthals took their spears and stood watch on the cave, or the wagon trains circled with an armed watch facing outwards, or... well, you get the picture.

Elemental reduction is what I was thinking, and for that you get Old Blood 'n' Guts as your poster boy.

Anonymous said...

I hate to burst the bubble, but rape is a real problem in the US military.

From Wikipedia:

Sexual assault of female soldiers overseas became such an issue in the beginning of the war in Iraq that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered an investigation and held senate hearings over the matter. Over 100 cases were reported within the first eighteen months of the war. Sen. Susan Collins of the Armed Services Committee said “What does it say about us as a people, as a nation, as the foremost military in the world when our women soldiers sometimes have more to fear from their fellow soldiers than from the enemy?” [4] The Pentagon has estimated that 80% to 90% of sexual assault cases go unreported.[5] The fear of the repercussions and embarrassment that could likely follow a report is enough to keep the silence.

From the Guardian:

The department of veterans affairs, meanwhile, released an independent study estimating that one in three women had experience of military sexual trauma while on active service. That is double the rate for civilians, which is one in six, according to the US department of justice.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of hearing more from Beckie Sue and her life? Wish she had a blog like you MR.

Mark Remond said...

Anonymous, re Beckie Sue - Me, too, I keep hoping she'll reappear with a comment. And, of course, I, too, wish she had a blog. She did start one, but some wacko defaced it, and I think she decided she had better things to do.

Mark Remond said...

Anonymous, re sexual trauma among women in the U.S. military: Godawful statistics, thanks for bringing them to our attention. Reminds us of the historic fact that conquering armies throughout history have raped and pillaged, but these violations are among our own ranks.

Rum said...

George Patton was quite the ladies man. Once he was caught with yet an-other woman and he said, in his defense, "A man who will not screw will not fight."
You guys are beyond hope. If you learned the truth about womens actual Natures at this point in your lives it would probably kill you.
But if you have sons... they deserve better.

Anonymous said...

I'm a gender egalitarian, e.g. what a "feminist" is supposed to be.

I'd say the actual sexual assaults against females are played up in the US military for political purposes - radical feminists (all heterosexual sex is rape due to patriarchy) and traditional chivalrists such as yourself often
combine under the guise of "protecting" women. But no one gives a damn crap about the men - those who are currently (and always have) shouldering over 99 percent of the deaths and injuries in our current military actions.

Traditional chivalry had several components largely missing from your revised edition. For one, most of it applied only to nobles and warriors, only a tiny amount trickled down from Knight to peasant, man or woman. For two, it was mostly based on parts of the Christian religion, said religion in many ways almost totally dead in modern times. And for 3, and possibly something you won't like but true anyway - there were expectations placed on women under chivalry. Even in Victorian times (which was, of course, after the demise of historical chivalry) a "lady" had to act a certain way to earn that title. It wasn't just annointing anyone with a vagina a halo and a pedestal. My modern "chivalry" extends to the weak and needy of either of the two primary sexes and the intersexed.

A little bit off the topic, but nonetheless a gift: A series of six posts on the topic of the "social dominatrix".


Mark Remond said...

Clarence -
Resolution - Sometime after the New Year, if I get a respite, I'll try and work my through your stummy rumblings' series of Societal Dominatices... but I'm sure as heck going to check out all the pix.
Thanks - and yes, sure, I admit to living in submissive fantasyland.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, I wasn't sure how you'd take my post, which was pretty critical of some of what I (on limited reading of this blog)take as your main philosophy of chivalry and your desire for some form (since I haven't read that much I can't comment as to extent) of female supremacy. Thank you for treating me with courtesy.

About my links:
The first link deals with the subject of the rape of men within the US military, a subject little known or talked about. The second , about the ideas of the Dominatrix within the current US/Canadian/British cultures is NOT my post, alas. It's an excellent series of posts by Jay Generally, co-runner of the blog, along with his wife. I linked to it because I think it will interest you both visually and intellectually, as it did me.

May both you and your wife have a happy Christmas or whatever other holidays you might celebrate.


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