Sunday, January 07, 2018

On white knighting

There is a longstanding theme within Western culture of men who dream of rescuing the damsel in distress, perhaps with the reward of a relationship for their efforts. It all seems noble and idealistic, but it has come in for criticism within the men's movement, to the point that the term "white knighting" is now a derogatory one. As it should be.

The thing you notice is that white knighting always seems to exist as part of a pair. When men engage in white knighting, women engage in the feminine imperative. And both, especially when existing together, are a sickly version of what the genuine relationship should look like.

The feminine imperative is the idea that men should sacrifice for, and be servants to, women. Or, to put it another way, that men exist to serve a woman's goals and objects (and that a woman therefore has no reason to be grateful for what a man, or men, might do for her). Here is an example of the Christian version of the feminine imperative:

She believes that even as the "head" of a family men are only there to sacrifice and serve, whilst the woman leads.

There is some basis for white knighting and the feminine imperative in our biological drives. Men do, after all, have an instinct to protect women and it also makes sense that young women, as the bearers of children, might be thought especially critical to the future existence of a tribe.

Even so, the white knight/feminine imperative axis is dysfunctional. Women who succeed in turning men into a servant class are making them romantically and sexually unattractive. Women are generally more sexually attracted to dominant men they find difficult to tame or control. Which is why the white knight strategy also fails spectacularly for men - it is not likely to lead a man to the end part of the fantasy, where he wins the woman.

This is what makes white knighting so lame. It is a poor strategy for an individual man, or for the men of a community, to follow in attempting to win the favours of women. It ends up not with women casting admiring glances at their rescuers, but in women feeling ungrateful to men they cannot respect or have a genuine attraction to.

This does not mean that men should not follow through with their protector instincts. But this instinct needs have a higher aim, namely the protection of the larger setting within which relationships can successfully take place. The male protector instinct should be applied to upholding the virtue of women within the culture; to defending the culture of family life; to preserving the position of married men as having status and power and therefore attractiveness; and to creating a protected space within which the feminine qualities of women might be cultivated.

It's not reasonable to expect that a man can do this alone, as an individual. It will only happen if and when numbers of men act together to reset the culture.


  1. "men's headship is based only in sacrifice and service"

    That's not good enough for her? How insulting and ungrateful.

  2. Most women lead by their wisdom, a type of wisdom that is not natural to most men. Men lead by their own instincts (including masculine wisdom) that compliment the female role. As Christians, BOTH are committed to sacrifice, service and submission to each other and to their communities. It is a 100 : 100, not a 50: 50 ratio of contribution.

    Yes, Christianity supports a patriarchal model for the family and for society. But there is no shortage of examples of parity or "equality" between the sexes in the Bible, contrary to popular misconception.

    The modern and postmodern war of the sexes is an artifice of liberal culture and we have fallen for it.

    1. I agree that if both spouses are motivated by caritas, then both will make sacrifices and give service to the family. But here's the difficulty. Many women seem to quickly assess men to be either alpha or beta. If alpha, they are difficult to tame or domesticate, but are sexually attractive. If beta, then they are serious husband material, but are supposed to serve her and the children, and are not sexually attractive.

      So men who have good family instincts are likely to be assessed quickly as beta and as sexually unattractive. Hence the wait until women are ready to settle down (i.e. until after women have played the field). Hence the sexual desert within marriage. Hence the lack of gratitude from their wife. Hence the frivorce.

      For a traditional marriage to work, some way has to be found around this. And part of it has to be boosting the power and status accorded to married men - legallly, financially, culturally - so that women do not reflexively, as they do now, associate raw masculinity with the untamed, wild boy, "man with options", playboy.

    2. Women may raise children but "lead"? No. They may suggest, but suggesting is not the same as leading, especially if the husband disagrees.

  3. Our societies haven't seen a shortage of men in seventy years, now running on five generations. The Western woman will never be impressed with the average beta male. Our welfare state and consumerist impulse remove most of the basic needs that the male provided in previous generations.

    Some men hope to look for partners in developing countries, Southeast Asia is an infamous favorite region. Running away isn't going to solve the problem, and your descendants are often mal-adjusted unless the Westerner makes the best effort to assimilate into the host culture.

    1. and your descendants are often mal-adjusted

      Yes, the hapa board on reddit is evidence of this - some very angry young people there.

  4. Must we use these biological terms to denote the quality of men in society? Beta male? Alpha male? They smack of underdeveloped thinking on matters discussed above, not to impune you sir, but they invoke in me (and should others as well), the kind of cringe I feel when listening to college kids of today's generation. It's just embarrassing. I propose that we denote these kinds of men and the symptoms associated with them with their causes: traditional men and modern men. I've never known a man that embraces and defends modenity to exude the kind of qualities I'm assuming you associate with "alpha males, nor have generally met men that identify with an older, traditional way to be passive and effeminate.

    1. Nick, my only concern with the uses of alpha and beta is that they are used inconsistently.

      I think you are wrong to cringe. The terms are significant because they are hardwired into the way that women process relationships.

      Also, I'm not sure you understand what I mean by the terms. Alpha and beta are both masculine personality types. Neither is going to go away, regardless of what kind of society we live in. Alpha is not always good, beta is not in all senses bad. Women like certain qualities in both, though they are sexually attracted to alpha.

      As Tim pointed out in his comment, modern times are not happy ones for beta males, as their provider role has been undermined and as sexual liberation has "ruined" many women for a successful pair bonding marriage with beta males.

      Off the top of my head - so this is no official definition - alpha men tend to be more difficult to be with, more ambitious, invest less in fatherhood, are bolder and more decisive, and more egocentric. Beta males are, in comparison, more laid back, more empathetic, more family oriented, more reserved, more invested in fatherhood and family etc.

      Women vary a little as to which type they prefer. Alpha males come across as more dominant - for good and bad reasons - and whilst women generally find this sexually attractive, not all women can deal with alpha egocentricity/lack of empathy in in a relationship. Some women, on the other hand, find the more laid back style of beta males repulsive and disgusting.

      There is a term "greater beta" meaning a type of family man who manages to assume some of the leadership qualities, ambition and self-confidence of an alpha, without losing the better qualities of the beta - and I have heard some women say that this is their preferred option.

      In general, though, a beta man is generally made that way, and these men form a core of society. Their position is always a little shaky as they don't easily win the sexual attraction of women - so it's very unwise, as liberal society has done, to undermine their position within family life.

    2. Mark,

      Thanks for your clarifications.

      My problems with these terms must stem from "inconsistencies" then. Much of what is said about both these types or natures is very absolutist - Alpha=good, Beta=bad.

      I think another problem, at least for me personally, is the background in which these terms were first used, and I'm hesitant to apply them to human beings, even though I understand there are obvious gradations that make men distinct from one another.

      Besides, from a traditional perspective I don't think there's any trait that characterizes the alpha male as an exemplary of manly virtue (much to the contrary). Much of what we might call a strength or virtue within this kind of man is usually done from a purely selfish motive - and that alone is enough to question the alpha's character as a man (again, from the perspective of a traditionalist). Alpha's are moral pragmatists and also utilitarian; they wrestle with their place in a cosmological order for much the same reasons liberals do; they often have little respect for the divine; as you've noted, they do not always respect the order and duty of fatherhood and the home; they use the modern-day female, who is impaired, as a standard for understanding what women want; they don't often concern themselves with others.

      On the flip, beta's are often chastised for these same things - as weakness. Adopting these terms, in my opinion, is only helping further the modernist campaign because genuinely conservative men are chided while modern men are championed - and for what?

  5. The rescuing of a person in distress is an act of charity which may be noble and idealistic. The performance of an act of charity with the expectation of something in return is calculating, opportunistic and at times exploitative. The white knight syndrome is not noble but is an act of narcissism based upon fantasy. The recipients of charity are often unappreciative even when the act is done without expectation of reward but when a reward is expected it leads to contempt from the recipient. Men have to base their relationships with women on reality and truth and not upon narcissism, fantasies and exploitation. A strategy based on a ridiculous fantasy is not a strategy at all but a recipe for failure.

  6. The culture cannot be reset. Any attempt would be as hopeless as trying to raise the Titanic and restore it to making crossings across the North Atlantic. I would advise any man considering marriage to desist, it's simply not worth the trouble. Many, perhaps most women are as perfidious as vipers and feel affection only for money and baubles. Living as a bachelor can be difficult at first, but as one gets older it becomes ever easier. You'll all be grateful later when you see your married mates get a dagger through the kidneys (not literally let us hope, tho' if the poor chump had a good insurance policy, who knows...)and you are safe out of it, and have no worries of suffering a similar fate. As for the temptation to "white knight", let these jezebels work things out for themselves. Don't be a counter-revolutionary who would deprive them of the splendid "equality" granted them by their glorious socialist homeland. To end, the ship's going down and there's no saving it. We might as well enjoy some fine whisky and listen to the band play before the waters close over us and put an end to our temporal peregrinations for good and all.

    1. Anon, that's a counsel of hopelessness. I'm one of those men with a dagger through the kidneys, so I'm acutely aware of what the dangers are, but I think there's more to be done than "give up and watch it all burn".

      If you're a man and you want to marry then it seems to me you can go one of two ways. The first is to still aim for a traditional marriage. I've observed that it seems to work best if you meet your future spouse whilst still relatively young (so that you find a woman who is oriented to pair bonding and who does not spend a decade on the carousel) and then wait some years before committing to marriage and children (to winnow out those with commitment issues). Women who come from a close, intact family and who have a good relationship with their father seem to be the safer option.

      If you pursue this option, you also need to be aware of the likely alpha/beta dynamic. You need to avoid women who are very "LL" - women who are at the very low end of the dominance scale but who have a low threshold for men to be dominant. That's a losing combination because these women will be scared of any display of masculine behaviour and will double down on trying to make their husband safely and securely beta but will still sexually desire displays of masculine behaviour and will therefore at the sexual level feel revulsion for the same beta behaviour she is pushing toward. The husband cannot win in this scenario - he is likely to both scare and repulse his wife at the same time.

      If you are naturally beta (loving, considerate, non-egotistical, non-pushy) then you will need an "LH" woman - a woman who is not dominant herself but who has a high threshold for her husband to be dominant. This allows a naturally beta man to push toward more masculine behaviours over time, to keep some sexual interest from his wife - i.e. to become a greater beta.

      If you are an alpha man (driven, egotistical, pushy, ambitious, combative, dominant etc.) then you can go for either an H or an L woman (a woman who has high or low tendencies toward dominance herself) but you need to make sure also that she has a high threshold - some women with a low threshold for dominance won't like the lack of care/empathy/comfort from an alpha.

      The other, more radical, option, is not to aim for a traditional marriage but to limit your exposure to the divorce threat in other ways. You could insist that your wife work in a good job, with any children being put in childcare, whilst you yourself gradually accumulate some money on the side for any future child support threats. You could follow modern women along in not holding yourself to your marriage vows but being ready to walk if your spouse is not willing to have a reciprocal relationship.

      I don't like the second option, but it seems to me better than the MGTOW/watch it all burn scenario.

      Anyway, in the longer term we have to work our way toward a culture that supports the institution of marriage. The lesson of our era is that marriage doesn't work in isolation. It works better, for instance, when people have a commitment to the collective they belong to and therefore see the raising of children in a stable environment as important (i.e. when people have a commitment to the future of their own people and tradition, rather than just an individualistic commitment to themselves). It works better when people have sincere religious commitments and connect their marriage vows to their moral integrity and to their commitment to God. It works better when people are raised with a particular understanding of love, as not just being sexual infatuation or even "feelings", but as "caritas" - as love being directed toward the good of another, as something fixed in the will. It helps when people see the roles within marriage, e.g. of being a wife and mother, as a profound fulfilment of who they are as women, rather than as a patriarchal imposition.

  7. This is the first time that I've heard of "white knighting" in this context. It sounds somewhat distorted. I assume this about bad marriages, rather than single men trading for sex. If I see a women, "a damsel" in distress, I'm going to "rescue" her, if I'm on the spot. I wouldn't give a second thought.
    I imagine that this is about a pattern of a male's submission in a bad relationships or marriage, not a genuine "rescue" or a man doing for a women in need what she can't do for herself. If I realized that a woman was playing me, I wouldn't stay around for more, unless I was enjoying a worth while trade-off, on my own terms.
    Being a wuss or a door mat, isn't being a white knight, it's simply being a wuss.
    I get your idea that men should protect the larger setting, as a place where men and women can be men and women.
    Judy Gubinski appears to have a serious mad on for The Church and for men. When she says in this tweet what her faith teaches about man and woman, it sounds like radical feminist ideology, not a woman speaking about religious faith. Her comments elsewhere, show that she's angry as hell, apparently at everyone.
    You write: There is a term "greater beta"... and I have heard some women say that this is their preferred option.
    I'm trying to imagine the scene in which these women tell you this. Is this an academic setting, sorta of clinical, certainly not social, in your professional capacity?
    Your insights and conclusions so often ring true and authoritative, as if you're getting them straight from the source's mouth.
    I have experienced and observed a wide range of behaviors in women, but it never occurred to me to, or how to, discern their strategic calculations. It was mostly binary; on or off. Even my marriage.
    That was a while ago. The costs seemed low then, or so I thought, and the reasons didn't really matter to me.
    My mistake.

    1. Buck, you make it sound as if in a normal marriage a woman would never push the feminine imperative, i.e. the idea that the man exists to serve her objects. I don't have a scientific proof of what I'm about to claim, it's just from observation and experience, but it seems to me that women will always, at least covertly, expect and push toward this. How an individual man responds, and how men within a culture respond, is a different matter.

      Let me give you one example. My mother has always been very committed to her role as a wife, mother and grandmother and has had a loving relationship with my father for decades now. My parents have an exceptionally good marriage.

      But early on in the marriage my father used to go once a month, on the weekend, to a service organisation for a few hours - they used to do things like collect used beer bottles to raise money for charity etc.

      My mother never forgave him. He was spending time doing things that were not about earning money for the family, or doing work around the house etc.

      A year ago (i.e. decades later), my father finally announced that he had been in the wrong and that he had apologised to my mother for doing what he did (my father is not a wuss - he is very much alpha).

      Here's another example, this time from history. One of the most patriarchal societies was that of Ancient Rome. Fathers had the power of life and death in that society. And yet, such a fierce upholder of Roman customs like Cato the Elder once lamented that "We rule the world and our wives rule us."

      This is all a problem, for two reasons. First, if women succeed in setting the frame then they lose sexual attraction for their husbands, given that women are aroused by men they feel they have not tamed or controlled. So the more that women win, the more they lose. Men somehow have to make sure that women lose, so that women (and the marriage) win.

      This is partly a matter of the individual man asserting himself. But it is not quite so simple. The act of marriage signals to a woman that she no longer needs to compete for the man; marriage itself helps to kill female desire.

      That's why in female romance novels the hero is nearly always a playboy with no intention of settling down. There is often a device in the plot which somehow forces this untameable man to actually consent to marriage, e.g. an unexpected pregnancy. But it is always made clear that the man is not really the marrying kind - he has too much raw masculinity for this, he is not someone who is captured by his romantic love for a lovely woman.

      I'll say it once more too. I don't think the female mind lends itself to equal relationships. Women either see men as untameable, dominant alphas or as more laid back, agreeable betas. If the beta switch is triggered, a woman might well think in terms of marriage, but within her frame, within her feminine imperative. I don't think it's easy to change her expectations once she's made the initial assessment.

      The second reason this is all a problem is that when men are brought into a female frame it limits the employment of male talent and endeavour. Men are then just supposed to be domesticated and to turn all their energies to this. But we need men not just to be domesticated but also civilised - i.e. we need men to have the time and space to devote some of their energies and talents to upholding the civilisation they belong to.

      There are some women who are going to fiercely resist this, because it is effectively a rejection of beta servitude.

    2. You describe an Anglo Saxon phenomenon in which women are deeply insecure and always appear to be afraid their husbands are running off with other women which is actually very common hence their anxieties are justified. They therefore seek to dominate the man and monopolise his time. In the rest of the world men and women socialise separately most of the time except for formal and family occasions. Men have separate and different interests and hobbies and pursue these. Men have to retain some independence and mystique or lose respect.

  8. I guess that my unrealized conception is a bad marriage is a normal marriage. It's constant conflict that I see all around me. The closer in, the worse it gets. The trade-offs are painful to know about. I cringe when I hear one coming. The exceptions seem rare, if I imagine those correctly. I've never seen the inside of a good marriage, certainly not an exceptionally good marriage. You are blessed.
    Thanks for this.