8/1/14

The Designated White Knight



Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.
Plato
As the internet flares up with women arguing back and forth whether chivalry is sexist or not and men argue whether chivalry reduces their manhood or enhances it; the reality is that women are targets of violent acts because of their gender. And this is not just a local issue, but rather a global and historical problem, something that is conveniently ignored by men and women who complain about chivalry. So when I run into news about men stepping up and doing their part, I am filled with hope for mankind.

The Brothers for Sisters Movement in Russia consists of young Gentlemen making sure that a lady is able to walk home after dark, where she is able to reach their front door safely completely free of charge. No courtship, no romancing, and no obligation; just a secure escort.

“Meeting young ladies, walking them home safe late at night, offering some help—that's what our group does… We set it up only to help tackle this particular problem our communities are facing now."


Denis Shotikov, 29, was helping restore an old horse stable in an equestrian center in St. Petersburg. As several female students left the center at night, Denis and several other in the center felt uncomfortable sending these women out into the dangerous streets. Having heard the horror stories of what women have to face while walking alone at night, they decided to start escorting the ladies to make sure that they got home safe. Seeing how well it worked and the good he was doing, Denis made an open call in the social media, inviting other young men to join the ranks of the “brothers” as well as an open invitation for “sisters” not to be shy about asking for help. That was the birth of Brothers for Sisters.

Keep in mind that any man wanting to join as a “brother” has to pass a rigorous selection process, involving several interviews and background checks. They began coordinating with the local authorities, since many of the brothers are off duty police men themselves. All candidates and members are required to be reasonably fit, and aren’t allowed to smoke, drink, or swear. What started as a couple of guys making sure their friend got home safe has grown into an entire social movement.

And their involvement helping others out started to grow past their “escort” service, a service where the brothers usually use their own cars. They have been called to handle aggressive ex-boyfriends or ex-husbands, to scare off the occasional stalker, or simply let a guy understand that No means No. And the community has taken note.

Since many of the cases dealt by these gentlemen often requires a good level of physical fitness, the local gyms have offered free gym access a hand to hand combat coach to train them. After learning that the brothers use their own cars to take these young women home and simply patrol the more dangerous parts of town, the owners of the local gas stations offered to fill their cars, free of charge.

Many people could assume that these modern knights are doing this to meet ladies. To those comments, Denis replies “There are plenty of opportunities in our country to meet girls without going to all this trouble. And I am married, actually. My wife is the first person I spoke to when I first thought of setting up such an organization in our town.” He explains how all volunteers are discouraged from accepting invitations from the ladies they are helping out, even for something as simple as tea or coffee, as it might give an improper message.

The Brotherhood’s founder believes that most if not all men have a deep-seated urge to be warriors. Some, however, choose to exercise that urge playing video games. "They just sit there in front of a computer, playing at tanks, defending their virtual motherland from virtual enemies. Meanwhile, there are real enemies out there in the street, attacking our girlfriends, our children, our mothers. Why don't these virtual heroes do something about that?"