Mark Richardson gets it right on chivalry:
Many men’s rights activists (MRAs) took the view in the case of the Italian liner that sank that men should not be expected to give up seats in the lifeboats for women. In particular, the argument was that women should not simply feel entitled as women that men should put themselves in harm’s way for them.
My own view is that chivalry can be a higher part of a man’s nature and so I’m less likely to attack it. But it does make sense, if you are reacting against dehumanisation, that you might kick back hard against the idea of male expendability.
Traditionalists see men as providers and protectors, and that can mean men making sacrifices for women. The danger is if traditionalists take the attitude that men should make those sacrifices regardless of circumstances.
There are some MRAs who are rightly critical of pastors who believe that men should be the fall guys, no matter what women have chosen to do. There are MRAs who are critical of conservative women who take it as a given, as an entitlement, that men will go on making sacrifices simply because they are men.
I’m not at all suggesting that traditionalists should give up on the idea of men as being protectors and providers. I do think that’s significant in how men fulfil themselves as men. But we have to be aware that we are operating in a climate in which men are registering a sense of their dehumanisation. Such men will react negatively to anything that smacks of “men matter less” or “women get a free pass” or “women deserve benefits from men just for being women”.
We need to be able to say clearly “no deal” when men are being asked to make one-sided arrangements with women, or when women are unwilling to contribute in a just and balanced way to relationships.
At the same time, we have to remind MRAs that it was clearly modernists, and not traditionalists, who brought about the changes to society which have dehumanised men. It was modernists who argued that men held an unearned privilege in society which had to be deconstructed. It was modernists who, seeing men as privileged, believed that all legislative efforts should be to the advantage of women.
As chivalry is a species of magnanimity, it’s useful to compare it to another species of magnanimity, namely charity. Suppose a charitable man finds that his charitable donations are being used to buy crack, and in fact creating a mob of charity-demanding crack addicts. Certainly he is under no obligation to continue to fund said mob, and to do so will merely squander his resources without any good effect. However, if he is able to find a group of “deserving poor” with which he can form a reciprocal relationship tending towards the good, he may and indeed should continue to be a charitable man.