8/4/15

Chivalrous Women And The Return Of Damehood



Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.
Nora Ephron
We often focus our conversation on terms like Gentlemen and Chivalry and how they pertain to men and their development/empowerment. We also express the importance of recognizing and promoting gender equality and how this can be done without the need of using gender neutrality. This means that the following two questions keep popping up in my social media feeds:

1.What do you call the female version of “Gentleman?”
2.What’s the woman’s version of Chivalry?

The funny thing is that every single article and post starting off with either of these question aren’t really asking a question but making an opening statement to a preconceived argument based on misinformation and misdirection to benefit their exposition. Why do I say “misinformation and misdirection?” Because both of these questions have actually appropriate answers.

Let’s start with the first one as it’s pretty damn obvious. You probably have heard it countless times within your life and might have even guess it by now. The woman’s version of “Gentleman” is called “Lady,” like the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen.” If you find “Lady” as a negative term based on your personal interpretation and experience with the word or you want to sound more pedantic, you can also use Gentlewoman.

On the second question, I want to expand and enjoy.

Is there a code, similar to the medieval knightly code of chivalry, for women?  Can we find a female counterpart to the code that later shaped the gentlemen of today? Is there such a thing? According to most online sites, if such a thing doesn’t exist, everything that gentlemen stand for can be absolutely dismissed as sexist, either against men expected to do it or women expected to put up with it.

Believe it or not, there is. There exists a medieval Knightly code for women and it’s called…
Wait for it…
CHIVALRY!

Yes, you heard me right, chivalry. Let’s start by clarifying a highly overlooked fact, women could be knights. Sure, there were plenty of “men-only” knightly orders, but there was also several inclusive orders and “women-only” orders. When a dead knight’s land passed to his wife or daughter, these duties were imposed on that woman. In England, the title of Lady or Dame was usually given to such a woman holding such honors and “Damehood” was an acceptable term to define a woman’s “Knighthood.”  In Spain she would take the term Doña and in France female knights were called Chevalière.

And this wasn’t something exclusive to European Chivalry and Knighthood, as throughout history, strong fighting women have been present. I actually did a post about the history of warrior women some time ago.

Which brings us to today. Is there room today for a modern version of Damehood? I find this question somewhat condosending considering the Warrior Women who already shine brilliantly within our society! You see it in every strong and graceful woman who, even things have gone wrong in their lives, handled it. They refused to let their past or their environment define who they are now. 


These Ladies refused to embrace the victimhood mentality so popular among men and women today; a mentality that has turn any expectation of accountability, self-empowerment, and self-assessment into synonyms of victim-blaming. These men and women assume the idea of nothing being their fault or constantly searching for villians to blame. If it's never their fault, they don’t need to take responsibility for it. If they can't take responsibility for it, they will always be a victim in need of sympathy and attention, instead of actual help to overcome their challenges.
 
These Modern Dames are the strong independent women who refuse to be a victim of anything. We see these women showing more “balls” than most men and refusing to be, as Ronda Rousey so beautifully put it, a “Do Nothing Bitch,” a woman who tries to be pretty and be taken care of by somebody else. They hold their fate in their own hands. They refuse to be a Damsel in Distress or play off the victim card as a way to receive “equality” without the accountability of true equality.

We see this in the Queens who stand toe to toe with any King, as they should never be treated as any less. We see this in the warrior-women who fight side by side with the warrior-men as protectors while following the same code of honor with the same obligations. We see them in Ladies setting themselves apart of other women by carrying themselves with the same grace and determination that sets Gentleman apart form other men. We see them in every Dame who has inspired girls to be more than what society expects form women and teach boys how to be men.