The Knight/Beast Dichotomy

Trigger warning for rape. 

A fascinating article at Sociology in Focus describes the male equivalent of the virgin/whore dichotomy: the protector/rapist dichotomy. Women in our society get classified as either virgins or whores– that is, as pure and perfect wife-and-mother-material Good Girls in sweaters, or slutty and “crazy” drinking-and-screwing-and-breaking-hearts Bad Girls in microminis. Similarly, men get to be white-knighting Good Guys in shining armor and ready to save women from their suffering, or slavering-beast Bad Guys who will rape and abuse at the slightest provocation.

I think that protector/rapist is badly named, however: more properly, it is the knight/beast dichotomy.

Every one of those idiotic Facebook statuses and Tumblr posts about the perfect guy who’ll put her on a pedestal and hold her while she cries and tell her she’s beautiful every day and on and on and on… That’s pretty much the Knight. He’s Prince Charming! He’s sweet and romantic and a protector and he will take care of his girlfriend.

The Beast, on the other hand, is every rapist and abuser and cheating bastard and slutty dude who leads women on and miscellaneous douchebag. The interesting thing is that Beasts are generally considered to be their own variety of humanity that are very different from actual men. You can’t go out in public wearing a short skirt lest you turn a Beast on and then he will have to rape you. The straight men you actually ask– who are generally perfectly nice people who would not respond to a short skirt with more than an appreciative glance– are not Beasts, and therefore do not count. Of course, it is not just rapists who are Beasts: the dude who leeches off his girlfriend or cheats on her constantly is equally Beastly, although how you would provoke him is presumably different.

Here, I’m not talking about things that people actually are, but about jokes and memes and archetypes and the rest of the cultural miasma that floats through our brains. Just like no woman is purely Virgin or purely Whore, no man is purely Knight or purely Beast; it is simply not a meaningful way to divide up actual people. All of the examples I’m about to give? Not the way actual people work! Just cultural ideas about how people work! That said…

The Knight is the father, oiling his shotgun on the front porch in case his teenage daughter’s new boyfriend gets any ideas about not treating her like a perfect gentleman. Perfect gentlemen, for that matter, are usually Knights. The dude who listens to his female best friend sobbing on his shoulder about how her boyfriend is terrible and she just wants someone who can listen, like you, and all the while he has a crush on her? Knight who wants to save her from all the Beasts. The guys (usually boyfriends or fathers, but sometimes male friends) who get all dramatic about how if anyone tries to rape you they will never find the body? Knights. Wartime propaganda that suggests that the (male) soldier would be liberating the women of Country X? Knights. Anything that could possibly be referred to as chivalrous or “treating you like a princess”? Knight.

The Beast, on the other hand… well, it is rapists and abusers, of course, who are, of course, extremely obvious people who wear a sign on their foreheads that says Rapist. The “player” who has sex with tons of women and then never calls them back? Beast. Frat boys and bros as a whole are generally considered Beasts, for some reason, as is nearly anyone who could be reasonably referred to as a douchebag. Men who give you a candy bar the day after Valentine’s? Beasts. Wartime propaganda about how the evil soldiers of Country Y are raping nuns? Beasts. The stereotypical abuser punching out his wife for not doing the laundry right? Beast.

Beasts generally prey on whores while Knights worship their virgins. (In fact, the promise in a lot of abstinence-until-marriage programs is that if a woman is properly virginal she’ll eventually meet her white knight… which is interesting.) However, I am told that sex workers occasionally encounter Knights who want to pretty-woman them out of this horrible life that they’ve been oppressed into; at the same time, the idea of the Beast who harms an innocent virgin is one with a lot of emotional power.

Do I have to mention that this whole Knight/Beast dichotomy is bullshit? It’s bullshit. First of all, as I said above, no one can ever be purely Knight or purely Beast outside of the worst forms of melodramatic fiction. Second, neither Knight nor Beast is a healthy, non-objectifying way of relating to women: Knights treat women as interchangeable creatures whose opinions are more-or-less irrelevant regarding whether or not they need to be saved; Beasts, at best, treat women as interchangeable sex objects and at worst are rapist, abusive fuckheads.

The Knight/Beast dichotomy has a quite different solution from the Virgin/Whore dichotomy. For the Virgin/Whore dichotomy, the solution is that both virgin and whore are okay ways to be. You can not want sex or only want sex within committed relationships, and that’s fine. You can have hundreds of partners or do sex work or be poly or like casual sex, and that’s fine. The idea that one is better than the other and that what everyone ought to be is bullshit.

The Knight/Beast dichotomy, however, is flawed because neither Knight nor Beast is an okay way to be. You shouldn’t have to choose between degrading women and pedestalizing them: between is the sensible path of treating them like motherfucking human beings.

This entry was posted in abuse, noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz, rape, relationships, sexuality and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to The Knight/Beast Dichotomy

  1. Rose says:

    😦 good post

  2. mayfly says:

    Interesting! One big difference between the dichotomies that immediately popped into my mind is the trope of the beast sometimes being “redeemed” into a knight, typically by the love of a good woman. Of course, it’s usually implied that he was good somewhere underneath the whole time, thus partially excusing past bad behavior (see the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, a lot of bad romance novel heros). The whore, on the other hand, usually gets tragically sacrificed instead of redeemed, or maybe her death is her redemption. Fantine (tuberculosis), Anna Karenina (hit by a train), and the girls offed early on in every slasher movie ever come to mind.

  3. Cowrie says:

    I don’t believe knight/beast dichotomy is any more harmful than virgin/whore.

    Virgin and whore are usually not seen as “okay ways to be.” Women are expected to somehow straddle both labels at the same time – the phrase “a lady in the streets but a freak in the sheets” comes to mind. When a women wont have sex she is frigid or a prude, when she does have sex she’s a slut. Neither connotations are “okay.”

    While people trying to live beyond constricting gender norms reject both knight/beast and virgin/whore mindsets, the fact is society perpetuates BOTH, and to say that the virgin/whore ideals for women are seen as “okay” is horrifically off-base.

  4. Ted says:

    I wonder if we can get the crusading knight types to think it is their duty to leave a better world by treating women as human beings not trophies.

  5. Hugh says:

    “The Knight/Beast dichotomy, however, is flawed because neither Knight nor Beast is an okay way to be. ”

    Maybe a better way to look at is that it’s OK to be a Knight if that means being nice and polite to women, helping them when they need it/ask for it, and listening to them talk about their problems. It’s also OK to be a Beast if that means getting drunk, having casual sex, letting women deal with their own problems or ignore Valentine’s Day.

    We might need new terms, though – saying “It’s also OK to be a Beast” felt kind of weird.

  6. aliarasthedaydreamer says:

    I think it goes a little bit deeper — *every* man is assumed to be a Beast, Knights are just men who are good at controlling it. This brought to you by my misandrist friends talking about keeping their daughter away from all those nasty boys who were going to wreck her 😦

  7. Samael Howard. says:

    All men are beasts. I know this because no matter how many lives I’ve saved, no matter how much I’ve sacrificed on behalf of others, I’m told it’s true. It’s why I’m here. It’s why I deny I’m a beast. It’s why I’m telling you that I was sent here by a concerned feminist friend.

    Everything I do, is in pursuit of sex. The beast must be fed.

    But, what if it wasn’t so? What if I liked flowers, and poetry, and art that comes from someplace deep inside, and is alive, inside all who see it, like a wonderful possession. No wonder it is so often demonized?

    Would you believe me? What if I further told you I was terrified of beasts? That I can no longer leave the house because I’m afraid of being turned on?

    No, you probably wouldn’t believe that. Especially not if you knew one day, I prayed to meet a woman who was a beast too. Maybe she’d teach me not to be afraid.

    And maybe she’d just eat me.

    But at least I’d know somewhere, out there, was a beast for me too.

  8. bttf4444 says:

    I wonder if if ladette would be the female version of beast.

  9. notemily says:

    Thanks for writing this! It’s fascinating.

    I see this dichotomy coming out a lot when someone who is a Knight figure in the public’s eyes is accused of rape. The accuser MUST be lying, because this guy is a Knight, therefore he would never rape anyone! He’s [a nice young man / a pillar of the community / a good student / a charming celebrity]! He doesn’t fit our idea of the Beast, so he can’t possibly be a rapist.

  10. SmJ says:

    Interesting how you framed this. Virgin/whore is something that women get ‘classified’ as, ie they have no agency in the matter. Men ‘get’ to be knights/beasts, is they choose it for themselves.

    Isn’t that the underlying problem? Women being framed as never having agency, even when they actively choose to do things they want to do, and men being framed as having nothing but agency, even when they feel huge social pressure to conform?

  11. Thomas says:

    I don’t like the framing of the issue either. It reinforces the idea idea that men have unlimited agency, free from societal influences. For women, on the other hand, it’s exactly the opposite.

    I also don’t really agree with the proposed solution. The solution to both dichotomies is to get rid of them in the first place. Even if being a perfect virgin or a perfect whore are ok ways to be, it’s still a dichotomy. Which is harmful even to women who freely choose a sex-life which resembles one of the extremes. For example a “whore” might enjoy sex a lot and in various forms, but she’s hardly up for anything with anyone. A “virgin” might prefer marital sex, but she might still be interested in things good girls are not supposed to like. It’s analogous for the knight-beast dichotomy.

  12. skzip888 says:

    Maybe vampires and werewolves? Edwards and Jacobs? Bigs and Aidans? Aangs and Zukos?

  13. f. says:

    Hey that link to Sociology in Focus isn’t working for me, you may want to fix it!

    I agree with those who say that men don’t really have the agency to choose whether or not they are perceived as Knight or Beast. Just like the virgin/whore dichotomy, the problem is that these are expectations projected onto men by society. One major issue with the virgin/whore dichotomy is that women who make one “mistake” are often assumed to have relinquished our virginhood and are automatically to be treated like whores, I can imagine something analogous going on with men who feel that having casual sex one time or looking at porn automatically makes them into a slavering, uncontrollable beast.

  14. f. says:

    Also, that’s a fairly shallow treatment of the virgin/whore dichotomy, there. The point isn’t that it’s OK to be either a virgin or a whore – it’s that none of us are actually pure or sullied in those ways, that “virgin” and “whore” are both unrealistic expectations of female behavior that are detrimental to our development as full human beings and that the dichotomy itself needs to be tossed on the scrap heap of history.

  15. L says:

    I think a huge difference that’s not being addressed is that this dichotomy seems to exist more often than not in fantasy and in our heads. I know people who talk about the mythic “perfect” boyfriend, or the uncontrollable “asshole” abuser, but they never talk about these archetypes in reference to real individuals. Oh yes they exist, but they’re never to be found. But when it comes to the virgin/whore dichotomy, you’d bet your ass everyone’s got real life examples they can point to and say “be like her, not her“.

  16. debaser71 says:

    For me, most of this sociological stuff is bullshit. In fact everyone I know doesn’t buy into it either. People, in reality, are different than the people portrayed on tv and the media. IMO if one finds themselves stuck in a viewing thew world through the eyes of how the media seemingly wants you to think then one needs to sort of expand their horizons. I’m a beast, a knight, a father, a husband, a person. I like flowers, rainbows, guitars, swords, and video games. I like heavy metal, pop, country, blues, and classical. etc etc etc. I find that so much talk of gender issues revolves around pigeon holing people into stereotypes. This is simply sloppy thinking. Sloppy as in immature high school cliques type of thinking. Yes, I’m ranting about the insistence of “Joe Typical” again. People are not as shallow or predictable as the media makes them out to be. Stop basing judgments on this nonsense. Carry on.

  17. @Ozy:

    The Knight is the father, oiling his shotgun on the front porch in case his teenage daughter’s new boyfriend gets any ideas about not treating her like a perfect gentleman.

    @aliarasthedaydreamer:

    This brought to you by my misandrist friends talking about keeping their daughter away from all those nasty boys who were going to wreck her

    This has me thinking: There’s an Ozy’s law version of said weapon brandishing older male relative (it’s not always the father, sometimes it’s an older brother or uncle, or what have you — I’ve even been on both sides of that dynamic before) to threaten other males who might think of not being perfectly “Knightly”. It’s the older female relative warning her son/little brother/nephew/whatever about how the woman he’s interested in is inappropriate in some fashion or another (ranging from being “beneath” him economically to being on the wrong side of the virgin/whore dichotomy to whatever flavor of bad/harmful/insufficiently awesome is the flavor of the day). Actually, I’ve also had this happen with *younger* female relatives too, though not nearly as often, but I’ve never seen the gun-polishing man be a younger relative.

    There is of course, the whole male=actor, female=acted upon mess rampant in both of those, as it’s either the woman who “needs” protection from being acted upon by a “beast”, or a man who “needs” warning so he can act regarding a woman…

  18. What is also interesting about both categories (and both descriptions of the categories, Knight/Beast v Protector/Rapist) is that they both contain an inherent relationship to violent behavior. Despite their differences, the Knight or Beast must be able to threaten and, if necessary, use violence. The Knight uses violence to protect his loved ones, while the Beast uses violence whenever and wherever the mood strikes. One is all justifiable violence; the other is all cruelty and capriciousness. In order for the categories to have a sense of consistency, both the Knight and Beast are assumed to have an a priori relationship to violence.

    In naming the categories Knight/Beast, Ozy reminded me of Martin’s ASOIAF. ASOIAF definitely shows that Knights & Beasts are often separated by slimmest of margins (if even separated at all).

  19. jesus_marley says:

    “For the Virgin/Whore dichotomy, the solution is that both virgin and whore are okay ways to be. You can not want sex or only want sex within committed relationships, and that’s fine. You can have hundreds of partners or do sex work or be poly or like casual sex, and that’s fine. The idea that one is better than the other and that what everyone ought to be is bullshit. The Knight/Beast dichotomy, however, is flawed because neither Knight nor Beast is an okay way to be. You shouldn’t have to choose between degrading women and pedestalizing them: between is the sensible path of treating them like motherfucking human beings.”

    What I find especially telling regarding the “solutions” is that for the virgin/whore, there is essentially no wrong answer. A person can fall anywhere along this sliding scale and be recognized as valid. Whereas for the knight/beast, there is only one right answer. Walk the line. don’t trip, don’t deviate. Right down the fucking middle. One misstep and you’re done.

  20. I agree with this post that Knight/Beast is a much, much better term for the things people are talking about than protector/rapist. That’s quite brilliant! I intend to totally steal the term and use it in my every day dialogue. Thanks for making my gender observations much easier, Ozy!

    Sooooo, criticism… :/

    I do have to agree with some of the commenters that the original post seems to presume a lot of agency for men, and sometimes seems to be more concerned with the effect this has on women. Really to sum it up, “…neither Knight nor Beast is a healthy, non-objectifying way of relating to women…” should probably be, ” …neither Knight nor Beast is a healthy, non-objectified way of relating to women…” Also, just like one of the problems of the Virgin/Whore dichotomy is that it defines women solely by how they should exist related to a presumed hetero-normative social dynamic that prioritizes the needs others over themselves, so does Knight/Beast. I know this post is condemning Knight/Beast as shitty, but kind of accidentally reinforces is by implying that it’s just the incorrect presumed hetero-normative social dynamic that prioritizes the needs others over themselves.

    To clarify that “seems to be more concerned with the effect this has on women,” statement: the reader is addressed as ‘you’ only when the reader is presumed to be a female having to deal with this Knight/Beast dichotomy, with only two exceptions. Those exceptions: During the description of the Nice Guy TM mindset, and at the end. “You shouldn’t have to choose between degrading women and pedestalizing them: between is the sensible path of treating them like motherfucking human beings.” It also has (ostensibly gendered) swearing in it in a way none of the sentences addressing a female audience do.

    And to parse apart the conclusions even more- The one for women is a no caveats enabler. They can be this, that, or all the things. The one for men states that they can not be this, or this, only this. Yes, the “only this” is someone who treats women like they’re people, but treating all genders like they’re people is the only option for everyone. The Knight/Beast are given malignant goals where the Virgin/Whore aren’t.

    As a contrast, one could just as easily say that a woman can never be a Virgin or a Whore, because men should not be treated like their sexuality is a de facto detraction of someone’s worth, but like human beings. (The Whore in the Virgin/Whore has always been treated as “desirable” the same way a Garbage-Collector in a Clean Person/Garbage-Collector dichotomy would. Which the post is strong enough to hint at that in the “The idea that one is better than the other and that what everyone ought to be is bullshit.” ) And men could be told that it’s okay to be a Knight and a Beast, because it’s okay to want to use your love and strength to protect people, but it’s also okay to acknowledge your own desires and indulge them without their being a constant moral excuse for it.

    At times, It makes the post feel like it’s about men the same way that saying, “The problem with the Virgin/Whore dichotomy is that it winds up with women only giving men two options: blue balls or someone they can’t introduce to their parents,” would be about women. I love that this post points out that men have an albatross around their neck too, but could have done without the ‘Geez, now women have to deal with the smell of two dead birds,’ implications.

    It is, no sarcasm, a great point and a great post. Please let my 49 words of praise 549 words of criticism serve more as a sign of my own ‘Comic-Book Guy,’ ‘complaining on the internet,’ cynicism, than an accurately weighted discussion of fault vs. merit. ;-_-

  21. @havebookswilltravel

    What is also interesting about both categories (and both descriptions of the categories, Knight/Beast v Protector/Rapist) is that they both contain an inherent relationship to violent behavior.

    That is a great point! Considering the symbol of masculinity is the same as the one for the god of war, it’s probably evidence that the analogy is both good and accurate. And like Knight/Beast defining man by his capacity for the ‘just’ control of violence, Virgin/Whore defines a women by her ‘just’ control of sex.

    I want to reiterate that I absolutely love the term ‘Knight/Beast.’

  22. dancinbojangles says:

    Good one Ozy, I especially like the wording, with the knight slaying the beast. The beast… WITHIN?!?!

    @L: That brings up an interesting point, and I see it as relating to the trope that manliness must be constantly proven. Similarly, someone might act like a knight all the time, but be in constant danger of becoming a beast with one wrong step. I experienced that once myself, simply for saying that I (gasp) masturbate! During a conversation about masturbation, no less! Of course, having a sex drive and being honest about that makes me a rapist. Perhaps not a perfect example, but I hope you catch my drift.

    @havebooks: True, true, that’s a good point, and it would seem to suggest that the beast is kind of the default condition that men occupy, and that the knight is just a beast who’s learned to control his violence and channel it to useful enterprise. Definitely reminded me of Martin’s work. Not to start a fight, too, but now that the TV show is Game of Thrones forever more, can’t we just call it GoT? ASOIAF always makes me think of the military aptitude test (ASVAB) or like a rocket-assisted takeoff device.

    @Jesus_Marley: This might be an unformed idea, but I’m kind of getting an inkling that this might be related to the agency idea. If men have unlimited agency and cannot be acted upon, then the only way to make them do anything is to manipulate them into doing so. So, you have things like the knight thing and the real men thing, and even extreme examples of manipulators so afraid of confrontation that they’ll outright lie in order to avoid some imagined beastly retribution.

  23. dan_brodribb says:

    Interesting, the idea that knight/beast are both related to violence where virgin/whore are both related to sex.

    What strikes me that they have in common is that there seems to be an expectation that people have just the right mix of both, but that mix seems to vary arbitrarily from moment to moment and from person to person and we’re expected to be the perfect mix of the two and magically perform it.

    “A virgin in the streets, but a whore in bed” is what some men seem to want from their women, just as some women seem to want a guy who is the “right” mix of asshole (beast), but knightly around her.

  24. dancinbojangles says:

    @Jay: Hm, come to think of it, the post was a bit female-centered, wasn’t it? I also like your point that the dichotomy is more about desires than violence per se. The beast doesn’t do violence because he’s just violent, but because he has violent desires, or desires that require violence to achieve. The problem is that while the virgin/whore dynamic exists as solely a sexual one (with some bleeding over into manner of dress etc.) the knight/beast dynamic is a part of every interaction a man has with a woman or girl. Though of course sexuality and the “inappropriate” expression thereof is the main bugaboo, there’s still the issue of treating women as better/worse than equal simply because of their gender in daily life. I totally agree that it would help for society to be more accepting of men’s sexuality, and even those whose sexuality involves violence (such as BDSM and absent harm done to others). Indeed, I’ve always been of the opinion that we should be accepting even of pedophiles, so long as they don’t harm children. Condemning sexuality absent criminality will only drive people to desperation, and is the worst kind of thought-policing.

    However, I don’t think more sexual acceptance is a complete solution, and implementing a complete solution is, to my mind, primarily on women. Just like men need to stop condemning whores and worshiping virgins, women need to stop relying on their knights and condemning non-knights as beasts at the drop of a hat. Not only that, but they need to actively refuse knightly aid, and actively work to accept (non-criminal) actions that might be considered beastly such as being sexual or having unconventional desires.

  25. Engineer Krause says:

    I mostly agree with this post, although I’m a little worried that codifying these things will result in _everything_ being seen in terms of them. Also kindasorta agreeing with Jay Generally.

    This ties very much into the whole “White Savior Complex” thing. I’m afraid talking about that has already harmed the greater good, even though it’s an important issue. Although the beasts are not really visible there.

    I, for my part, will simply help people when I can.

  26. Fnord says:

    I’m glad that you pointed out the parallel dichotomy for men, and I do think “Beast” works better than “Rapist” (I’m unsure about “Knight” for the other end, but it seems as good as anything).

    I do think you’re oversimplifying both dichotomies a bit. Particularly, ignoring the descriptive aspects. One of the toxic effects of the Virgin/Whore dichotomy is the erosion of consent on the “Whore” side. She’s whore, so obviously she can’t be raped. So simply saying that the prescriptive aspects are bullshit, that it’s OK to be a “whore”, isn’t enough.

    Likewise, while it’s certainly true that the prescriptive ideal that men should strive to be “Knights” is harmful. But the descriptive aspects are at least as dangerous; you only have to look at how criminals and especially “sex offenders” are treated by the American justice system to see how classifying men as “beasts” can be toxic.

  27. L says:

    @Engineer_Krause: White Saviorism wouldn’t exist if “help” was only administered when and how it was asked for. That’s all it comes down to.

  28. @ dancingbojangles
    The problem is that while the virgin/whore dynamic exists as solely a sexual one (with some bleeding over into manner of dress etc.) the knight/beast dynamic is a part of every interaction a man has with a woman or girl.

    Weeeell, the Virgin/Whore dichotomy is a big thing. A woman can be accused of looking and/or acting like a whore with no objective criteria (or a prude/tease/stick in the mud in the other direction.) I think it can feel so specific now because social liberalism and feminism have done their job so well. I know my mom mentioned getting slut-shamed for things like knowing about birth control, having black friends, and wearing pants. 😦 I mean, yeah it’s mostly sex, but that’s just it- in some peoples minds, even in whole cultures, sex, the potential for sex, and/or things related to sex (like offspring) are most of what a woman is considered to be. It’s why I think this post is also about a big thing. For some people violence , the potential for violence, and/or things related to violence (competition, thus success) could mostly be what a man is considered to be. I mean, the whole concept of the rape scare to control female behavior and enflame Knight-side protectionism comes from it. (Women you have precious, precious sex and men have powerful, powerful violence; Vote for me/Marry me/Buy my product and I’ll protect you from the Pagan Savage/Marauding Huns/Freed Negro/Communist Menace/Satanist Cults/Indoctrinating Gays/Pedophiles/Terrorists/Ad Nauseums)

    And I’m still focusing on just one problem caused by the Virgin/Whore dichotomy. It’s really pervasive and creeps into some crazy places.

  29. dancinbojangles says:

    @Jay: Point taken. Knight/beast is less explicitly sexual while still governing sexual behavior, while slut/virgin is the other way around. I suppose arguing about the extent of each is the worst kind of semantics, isn’t it?

  30. bttf4444 says:

    The other problem with both dichotomies is they limit gender roles in both men and women.

    Basically, it’s like this:
    Virgin = Light Feminine
    Whore = Dark Feminine
    Knight = Light Masculine
    Beast = Dark Masculine

    We should just say that anyone, regardless of sex or gender, can be whatever the hell they want to be.

    BTW, from what I understand, Gone With The Wind uses these dichotomies to contrast the mains of both genders/sexes:

    Melanie = Virgin/Light Feminine
    Scarlett = Whore/Dark Feminine
    Ashley = Knight/Light Masculine
    Rhett = Beast/Dark Masculine

  31. daelyte says:

    I think “Nice Guy” / “Bad Boy” would be a more accurate dichotomy, given how many women are attracted to “Bad Boys” but wouldn’t marry one or bring him home to mommy.

    I’ve seen the theory that a “Good Woman” is a lady on the street and a whore in the bedroom, and I think maybe that also applies to men. In other words, a “Good Man” is a “Nice Guy” when it’s time to bring the kids to grandma’s for the weekend, and a “Bad Boy” when you’ve got the house to yourselves…

  32. Thomas says:

    @daelyte

    I agree, nice guy/bad boy is more apt than knight/beast. Come to think of it, Julia Serano in her essay about nice guys draws the analogy between nice guy/bad boy and whore/virgin.

  33. Danny says:

    I’ve seen the theory that a “Good Woman” is a lady on the street and a whore in the bedroom, and I think maybe that also applies to men. In other words, a “Good Man” is a “Nice Guy” when it’s time to bring the kids to grandma’s for the weekend, and a “Bad Boy” when you’ve got the house to yourselves…
    Good point but I’m thinking that the virgin/slut and knight/beast dichotomies are a specific way of looking at how male heterosexuality plays out. When you bring in nice guy/bad boy you start bringing in female heterosexuality (the waters might get a little muddy there perhaps?).

    (And for the record I’m thinking, thanks to a comment from Good Men Project, that the male equivalent of the virgin/slut is the stud/loser. Both being ways to measure women and men respectively based on their sexual activity or lack thereof. The virgin and the stud representing what each gender is “supposed” to be and the slut and the loser representing what each gender is not supposed to be. Although all four are subject to ridicule at times.)

  34. Maps says:

    I like how people are coming up with all sorts of legitimate alternatives for men to the original dichotomy as laid out in the OP– but wimmins are still stuck with the one. 😉

  35. dancinbojangles says:

    @L: Huh? I can only read this as complaining that we’re not talking about women enough in a thread specifically about a men’s issue. Perhaps it’s the lack of nuance inherent in text conversation, but if that’s the case then I must say that it’s a bit inappropriate. Nobody’s denying that virgin/whore might be flawed, but not only is it rather entrenched in feminist theory in stark contrast to knight/beast, it’s just not what we’re talking about right now. Let me know.

    Quick related aside: I kind of understand the “what about teh menz” thing now, having had a similar reaction to L’s comment (deserved or not yet to be seen). However, I see it as a different matter, since masculism does not claim to be the singular gender equality movement, as does feminism.

  36. Danny says:

    Maps:
    I like how people are coming up with all sorts of legitimate alternatives for men to the original dichotomy as laid out in the OP– but wimmins are still stuck with the one.
    I take it as a sign that when it comes to being measured by how much sex you have the dichotomy that women face might be about as wright as you can be. Its totally unfair but accurate I think. Or is that what you’re getting at with the smiley?

  37. daelyte says:

    @Maps:
    Since Knight/Beast fits the fairy tale script, how about Princess/Witch?

  38. Pingback: Linksplat – 02/04/12 « Cubik's Rube

  39. Libro Ballante says:

    @Dancing Bojangles, on the 26th,
    and @ jesus_marley and f, who referenced walking the line, without any missteps
    and about agency,
    The idea that a good, but sufficiently interesting and well-rounded man is precisely a man who is at exactly the right point on some bogus one-dimensional continuum between Knight and Beast (or nice guy/bad boy, &co) is arguably just as restricting of legitimate agency as the idea that an interesting and well-rounded woman is precisely a woman at exactly the right point on some bogus one-dimensional continuum between Virgin and Whore (or Mother and Seductress, &co), if considered only as constraints on expressing heterosexuality, or heterosexual attraction. I am not suggesting that, in all interactions, the prevailing social archetypes treat men and women as equally likely to be agents or acted upon! In fact, both dichotomies/continua should be rejected precisely because they are so confining and one-dimensional and essentialist and prescriptive and laden with objectionable baggage.
    However, in my own formative years, my experience was that the most painful thing to deal with was finding that sweet spot on the Knight and Beast continuum where I was able to be accepted by the girls I knew as a sexual being, but not creeping them out or automatically harming them with my sexual desires, which I thought were sufficiently beastly to magically harm a girl, or at least be unworthy of her, simply by making her the subject of a fantasy or the object of a lust (especially if it was a girl not part of my long-term, unrequited, monogamous crush, because that had the added sin of being “adulterous”). This to say: Samuel Howard, I know a little of how you feel.

  40. Juniper says:

    “Every one of those idiotic Facebook statuses and Tumblr posts about the perfect guy who’ll put her on a pedestal and hold her while she cries and tell her she’s beautiful every day and on and on and on… That’s pretty much the Knight. He’s Prince Charming! He’s sweet and romantic and a protector and he will take care of his girlfriend.”

    I don’t usually buy magazines, and I don’t have a TV. My typical internet haunts are feminist/liberal/atheist spaces…and Pinterest. Those things are all over Pinterest, and they make my neck hairs rise.

    They’re gender essentialist (being a good partner is a decent person thing, not a real man thing). They’re heteronormative. They paint men as “good men” or “gentlemen” or “real men” (gag) ONLY in the context of how they interact with women. And none of them ever say “I’m looking for a man who has his own interests, and is good at communicating his boundaries and negotiating a mutually beneficial relationship.”

    Most of the actual requirements listed are pretty harmless if you remove the gender essentialism and heteronormativity–yeah, be nice to your partner, and only stay with partners who are nice to you–though they at times edge into serious white knight territory (Treasure me! Constantly flatter my ego! Expect nothing in return!).

    Some of them are not so harmless.

    Number two (!) on this list is “I want a guy who…calls you back when you hang up on him.”

    That’s…appalling. Putting up with your abusive shit (seriously, who hangs up on people on a regular basis?) is not a requirement for being a good man.

    Aside: I got to the end of these comments and realized that this is the first time I’ve seen an entire conversation about gender where NO ONE (that I saw, anyway), treated gender equality as a zero-sum game. Ye gods I love this place. *tear*

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s