Chivalry is back in the news. The always-alert Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute draws our attention to an item in the Psychology of Women Quarterly. A new study on what the authors are pleased to call "benevolent sexism" (which, as Murray translates, seems to mean gentlemanly behavior) found that both women and men are happier when men behave like gentlemen.
This being a sociological publication, though, the findings are not written in English, but rather in academic argot. It's full of sentences like this: "A structural equation model revealed that benevolent sexism was positively associated with diffuse system justification within a sample of 274 college women and 111 college men."
If you spend more than $100,000 on an undergraduate and graduate education in women's studies, you can learn to be this impenetrable, too.
The authors of the study were quick to warn readers about what they'd discovered. "Our findings reinforce the dangerous nature of benevolent sexism and emphasize the need for interventions to reduce its prevalence." Right. Though it seems to increase the life satisfaction of both sexes, it must still be eradicated.
When feminists set out to remake the sexes back in the 1970s, they seemed to choose all the wrong traits to emulate and/or eliminate. Women were encouraged to match the promiscuity, aggressiveness, and irresponsibility of men. In other words, women were to model themselves on the worst men. Meanwhile, the best traits of traditional men -- specifically their most chivalrous and protective impulses -- were to be maligned, mocked, and resented.
Still dancing on Mitt Romney's political grave, feminist writer Gina Barreca told the Washington Post's Gene Weingarten that Romney would be a "terrible, terrible date." (Leave it to a feminist who wants women to be taken seriously to evaluate a presidential candidate as a potential date.) Why? Because he'd be chivalrous. "Chivalry is the opposite of good manners. It's infantilizing. It's contempt masquerading as politeness. The chivalrous guy is establishing roles; he is the protector, you are Limoges. Your job is to let him be masterful. In my experience, when you are standing on a pedestal, there's not much room to move around. That's by design."