The author of this essay, Barbara Kay, notes:
“Honour… is sex-specific. Male honour is rooted in physical courage; women’s honour is rooted in sexual modesty.”
This is a bit of an over-simplification, but there is nonetheless validity to it. Certainly that has been the traditional understanding — and traditions generally become traditions for good reason! Women are, after all, the child-bearers; men, being typically larger and stronger (although not necessarily as resilient), fall naturally into the role of protectors and defenders.
“Men are ashamed to be called out for being cowards; women are ashamed to be called out for being sluts.”
Well, most are. These days some women take pride in it, even going so far as to take part in “slut walks,” flaunting their “sluttiness” for the world to see. Conversely, there are some men — such as the NY Daily News columnist who claimed to have gotten “temporary PTSD” from firing a mildly-recoiling and not exceptionally loud AR-15, appear to take pride in their lack of physical or moral courage.
“Morality is usually a private affair. But, as Alexis de Toqueville wrote, ‘Honour acts solely for the public eye.’ Before the personal became the political, we made a firm distinction between public and private behavior, and as a collective, we only judged public actions. Today that line is almost utterly obliterated.”
This is problematic in a number of regards; however, a full discussion is beyond the scope of this entry… let us continue:
“The jettisoning of honour as a criterion for judging the behaviour of others has been the assiduously pursued task of ‘progressives’ throughout the 20th century. Conversely, the application of honour as the only criterion in judging the behaviour of others – notably the sexual behaviour of girls and women – has been the assiduously pursued task of Islamists in their own lands, and in the last several decades in the western lands to which they have migrated in large numbers.
“Both of these ideologically-rooted drives represent poles of honour-related extremism. Both are socially destructive of healthy relations between the sexes. And both tend to obscure the fact that in reasonable doses, honour is a force for good in society.”
This is important to note, because an extreme position in either direction becomes unbalanced. Moderation, the via media (middle way) between extremes, is usually the most appropriate course.
“In the West, tribalist honour joined forces with Christianity to produce a distinctly western strain of honour, which we call chivalry.”
Chivalry often gets a bad rap these days, but it should not. It is really about being properly human: respecting all, but giving special deference to those — such as women and children — who are generally less likely to be able to protect themselves, and conducting oneself with courtesy and kindness toward all: not just one’s social superiors, but those of lower station, as well.
“Nobody is pretending that men and women today should aspire to replicate the relationship of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, written in 1813, but there is a reason this honourable couple continues to attract fascinated and even envious attention from every new generation of women who discover them. Something in our nature craves the constraints that produce the rewards an honour code confers.”
The author of this essay, Barbara Kay, concludes:
“Societies with strong honour codes have a well-developed sense of duty and sacrifice. Too little, and nothing seems worth fighting for. Too much, and everything seems worth dying for. Finding the balance is the key.”
Indeed. It generally is! Sadly, we have seemed to be badly off-balance for some decades, now. I hope and pray she is right, and the pendulum is swinging — however slowly — back toward the middle.