Perhaps no archetype within the Manosphere is more reviled than the White Knight. He’s the well-meaning (or maybe just sneaky) idiot who sacrifices his own well-being for the sake of the fair maiden. Captain Save-a-Ho, coming to the ostensible rescue, never actually accomplishing a damn thing turning women off in the process.
Yet here I am, advocating that Game be used for moral purposes. Moreover, I actually think that being a good guy can help you get what you want from women, that there might even be certain advantages to not being an unrepentant player.
So how am I not a White Knight?
If you could watch me read Dalrock criticize the utterly emasculating ideas of the modern Church, I would remind you of a Bobblehead. I agree entirely: dumb ways to describe marriage, dumb ways to tell boys to attract women, the nonsensical concept of mutual submission.
But, as a man who likes to give credit where it’s due, I must give the “tradcons” one small bit of credit: they actually recognize that men and women are fundamentally different. Sadly, in today’s world, that’s exceptional.
Unfortunately, although they understand a shadow of something that almost reflects reality, they subvert that knowledge by advocating that men exist almost entirely to serve women.
Yes, that shadow is a hell of a lot more than you’ll find in some gender studies class. Considering that I believe that the only hope for Western Civilization is a return to traditional Christian values, we need the Church to turn around. That glimpse is a good place to start.
The Blue Methamphetamine
During one of my beta eras a while ago, I was suffering from a severe case of oneitis for a thoroughly unworthy and mentally disturbed young lady. For unrelated reasons, a friend loaned me John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. It inspired me. For the first time I was exposed to the idea that it’s moral for a man to be a man. It’s okay to want to break stuff and enjoy driving too fast. It’s bad to be passive, good to be assertive, and noble to want to fight. My God, this anger’s here for a reason! That’s how I was designed.
Unfortunately, it also had passages like this: [emphasis mine]
Only a champion may win her; only the most valiant, daring, and brave warrior has a chance of setting her free.
The maiden is his: through his valor he has won her heart.
Why is this story so deep in our psyche? Every little girl knows the fable without being told. She dreams one day her prince will come. Little boys rehearse their part with wooden swords and cardboard shields. And one day the boy, now a young man, realizes that he wants to be the one to win the beauty. Fairy tales, literature, music, and movies all borrow from the myth. There’s Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Helen of Troy, Romeo & Juliet, Antony & Cleopatra, Arthur & Guinevere, Tristan & Isolde. From ancient fables to the latest blockbuster, the theme of a strong man coming to rescue a beautiful woman is universal nature. It is written in our hearts, one of the core desires of every man and every woman.
Wild at Heart, page 132-3
You might see the problem, but I sure as hell didn’t. In each of these cases, although the man might be valiant, each and every time it’s about her, and it usually ends in disaster:
Sleeping Beauty: The dude is a wooden stereotype; it’s a story for girls.
Helen of Troy: The greatest case of mass oneitis in either recorded or mythical history, results in widespread devastation.
Romeo & Juliet: They both die.
Anthony & Cleopatra: They both die.
Arthur & Guinevere: Arthur is eventually cuckolded by Lancelot.
Tristan & Isolde: They both die
How inspirational! If only we men were allowed to follow the truest of truths, the “myth” written into all of our hearts, we’d have a 2/7 shot of getting the girl without either causing the deaths of countless others, dying ourselves, or having the object of our dreams sleep around on us. Wouldn’t you just love to be like Romeo and kill yourself for the sake of your infatuation?
(And of course we can simply assume that both Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella were totally worth it, although I suppose giving SB a kiss in her sleep wasn’t too much effort.)
Like most readers who don’t actually take the time to think about those stories when they’re mentioned, I saw a perfect symmetry between these female-oriented legends and the male desire to kick serious ass. According to Eldredge, “[l]ittle boys rehearse their part with wooden swords and cardboard shield”, but it’s a part in her story. He’s correct to note that boys are drawn to swords and shields, and deserves credit for it. He’s not correct to assume that we do that stuff primarily for “a chance of setting her free.”
For, as Eldredge unwittingly demonstrates, the result of being a White Knight is that you’ll probably end up dead.
And frankly, aside from the Disney chicks, Guinevere’s hypergamy, and Helen’s massive ego boost, it doesn’t work out all that well for the ladies, either (overall 43% mortality rate).
The Actual Balance
As much as they swoon over romantic comedies, women instinctively understand this, as do men who haven’t been swamped by the Feminine Imperative. I reiterate that Eldredge and his fellow churchians get that it’s not the wooden swords that are the problem, but like feminists, they ultimately believe that the purpose of the Masculine Imperative is to serve the Feminine.
I remember playing all sorts of rough games as a boy, but I don’t remember once having the object of our games of guns and nonsensical combat have any connection to rescuing some girl. (If it ever happened, it would have been because one of us had to watch his little sister and we had to do something with her to keep her out of the way.) We were learning how to fight, but to assume that we were learning to fight for some babe is utter nonsense.
So, I’ll refer to a more accurate, down-to-earth reflection of how this stuff works: Star Wars.
When Luke first saw the hologram of Princess Leia, he was awestruck. Luke, the White Knight, to the rescue! His willingness to leave everything behind and go on some hare-brained mission was centered around her, the hero of Eldredge’s “myth” with a blaster and light saber instead of a cardboard shield.
On the other hand, for Han Solo, it was all about the cash. Did he care about her beauty? Not in the slightest. Only after Luke told him, “She’s rich!” could he get any help.
And who got the Princess? Not the guy who’s mission was to rescue her, but instead the guy who’s focus was elsewhere and rescued the Princess in service to that end.
(I’m entirely aware that Leia was Luke’s sister. I can’t prove it, but I suspect that Lucas added this later in order to neatly tie up what could have been an awkwardly dangling love triangle, kind of like Jacob imprinting himself on Nessie in Breaking Dawn. Remember the kiss in The Empire Strikes Back?)
Was Han noble? Hell no, but he did have a mission (even if it was just to save his own ass), and it wasn’t the Princess herself. And this is how it’s supposed to be.
You shall make your mission, not your woman, your priority
Forget all those romantic cliches of the leading man proclaiming his undying love for the woman who completes him. Despite whatever protestations to the contrary, women do not want to be “The One” or the center of a man’s existence. They in fact want to subordinate themselves to a worthy man’s life purpose, to help him achieve that purpose with their feminine support, and to follow the path he lays out. You must respect a woman’s integrity and not lie to her that she is “your everything”. She is not your everything, and if she is, she will soon not be anymore.
A woman is designed to be a help meet, to support the Knight as he achieves his mission; that’s her role in the battle. if you’re a White Knight, if you’ve got oneitis for her, she knows you don’t have a mission, for you can’t have a mission if your mission is her.
Indeed, for her to be attracted to a man who’s purpose in life is her would be masturbatory, a couple that’s a self-contained incestuous cycle of ego-feeding that contributes nothing to the outside world.
Furthermore, considering that a woman is to be a help meet, if a man craves a woman more than anything else, he’s showing that what he needs more than anything is help. Help is wonderful, but if getting help is your point in life, you probably don’t have especially good genes. Women are repulsed by such weakness, and rightfully so.
And a man like that is incapable of helping her when she really needs it.
Eldredge correctly describes how little girls and women want to be rescued. However, in his unintentional approach to the issue from the feminine angle, he fails to recognize that the little Princesses prefer to be rescued by a man on his way to doing something else.
A man who protects his date from a mugger on the way home isn’t seeking out some chance to prove his manhood, he merely sees that something needs to be done and does it. Of course it requires energy, and depending on how dire the situation is, it may even cost him his life. She might be the point at that moment in time, but she’s not his underlying point. He has voluntarily taken her on as an extension of himself, and to protect her it could cost him everything. On a deep level, it’s still really about him, what he believes in, who he loves, what he decides is more valuable than his very life. She has no choice in the matter; he’s the one in charge.
But isn’t a part of the man’s role that of protector? Yes, and men who seek out battles elsewhere are the men with the most practice winning such fights. Read this story. I can easily conceive of Morton as being obsessed with his eventual wife during their courtship, but is Morton the type of man who could successfully confront his boss at work, who has any sense of mission or purpose? As a man who’s entire life is his family, he renders himself a man utterly incapable of protecting it.
And this is the type of man that Eldredge and the other churchians unwittingly create. They market marriage as a one-sided sacrificial contract for fools, heroism as something that requires you weaken yourself.
There is no strength in impotence, and the White Knight is entirely impotent; he seeks out unnecessary battles to prove himself and fantasizes about rescuing the maiden because he has no better way to spend his time. However, the strong man with a mission, even if, especially if that mission is something larger than himself is strong enough to actually win the battles the White Knight dreams of fighting.
That is why God wants us to be focused, dedicated, and strong, to do the right thing with everything we’ve got, to believe in something greater than ourselves, our mission, with evert fiber of our being.
But we are never, never, ever to soil ourselves as White Knights.