Civility is particularly due to all women; and, remember, that no provocation whatsoever can justify any man in not being civil to every woman; and the greatest man would justly be reckoned a brute if he were not civil to the meanest woman. It is due their sex, and is the only protection they have against the superior strength of ours; nay, even a little is allowable with women; and a man may, without weakness, tell a woman she is either handsomer or wiser than she is.
-Chesterfield, Martine’s handbook, 1866
In revealing what sometimes happens behind closed elevated doors, an infamous video clip that recently went viral also put the gallantry of a gentleman to a very rigorous test.
Focusing on the episode rather than the actors, it is fair to say that it was indeed a brave display of gallantry.
Praise and criticisms have greeted the victim in question.
Praise, in maintaining unusual chivalry in the face (or feet if you like) of such extreme provocation.
Criticism also flowed in steadily because the critics believed that a strike was justifiable at that level of provocation.
The strike of an average man can paralyze an average woman for a few hours, if not days.
There’s no controversy that most men are physically stronger than most women; there may be a few exceptions but a muscle will very often beat a mouth.
A man, quite frequently, has a deep voice, bulging biceps and the height of a staunch Iroko tree; all of these define his masculinity to an extent and stand to be imposing.
Most people will therefore judge a man who is deliberate or slow in exercising these imposing features for his benefit (or protection from a woman gone wild) as weak, stupid or gay because, they reason, he should naturally use what he has to get what he wants.
This is however an unfortunate reasoning since one can equate such mindsets to rapists who are every inch vulgar.
A man is naturally so crude, the prefix, ‘gentle’ had to be introduced to tone down his uncouthness through standard rules of gentility.
Meekness, someone has said, is not weakness but strength under control.
A hallmark of a gentleman is the ability to appear weak when he is indeed strong for the greater good- any man can date rape a lady but a gentleman will run his course, so to speak, and be much more respected for it.
Even if a lady is being less than graceful, a gentleman accords her the respect due her, not because he can’t take advantage of her fragile feminity but because she is a lady and there’s no reputable contest against her.
To select a lady as an opponent when demonstrating superiority of strength is absolutely ungentlemanly.
It is the cheapest victory.