Monday, December 10, 2012

A modern take on chivalry from the Atlantic

Chivalry is seen here as entirely about relations between men and women.

A story from the life of Samuel Proctor (d. 1997) comes to mind here. Proctor was the beloved pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church. Apparently, he was in the elevator one day when a young woman came in. Proctor tipped his hat at her. She was offended and said, "What is that supposed to mean?"
The pastor's response was: "Madame, by tipping my hat I was telling you several things. That I would not harm you in any way. That if someone came into this elevator and threatened you, I would defend you. That if you fell ill, I would tend to you and if necessary carry you to safety. I was telling you that even though I am a man and physically stronger than you, I will treat you with both respect and solicitude. But frankly, Madame, it would have taken too much time to tell you all of that; so, instead, I just tipped my hat."

I would welcome comment from my readers who are familiar with recent scholarship on chivalry.  Does the heroic behavior at Aurora bridge the gap between this author's definition of chivalry and historic notions of chivalry ?

1 comment:

  1. Chivalry is an existential statement about what kind of man one insists on making oneself. As such, I agree with Samuel Procter, though I am not capable of his equanimity in the face of pettiness.