Dear Sir: Your Fake Gentleman Culture is Garbage

An open letter to the creator of this infograph. I’d recommend at least skimming it before reading this article.

Dear Sir,

I am female, but I love the blog The Art of Manliness. I know I’m not exactly their target audience–the blog is the pillar of modern “gentleman culture” and features articles on the care of beards, etiquette, and ways to fold pocket squares. But it’s also full of solid advice and useful tips that everyone can benefit from.

I say this so you’ll understand why I clicked your infograph when I saw it on Pinterest. I was hoping for some gender-neutral wisdom sprinkled in between the manly tips. The title was “73 Ways To Be [an] Insanely Desirable Gentleman.” I missed that part, since the person who pinned it used the caption “How to be a gentleman.”

Image result for how to be a gentleman infographic

It started out OK. “Stay faithful.” “Never compare.” “Spend time with her.” “Be chivalrous.” The graphic design was good. I kept reading, hoping there would be some genuine insights into character instead of repetitive, vague dating advice.

But then things took a turn for the worse.

“Reply to her texts, or risk the well-being of your phone.”

“Make her happy. Do whatever you can to make her happy. More shopping will help.”

I’m sure you’re trying to be facetious here, but it’s not really working. Maybe your girlfriend is capricious and materialistic, but you don’t need to apply that to all women. Especially since your post is about how men should be respectful to women.

“Smile often, and you shall see her smiling. Cry in the loo, if you have to.”

Why would you need to put on a cheery facade in front of your girlfriend? Despite everything that our culture tells you, crying does not make a man weak. If she can’t stand to see you cry, that’s her problem.

“Good grammar is sexy. Never underestimate the seductive power of a fine vocabulary.”

“Give her piggy back rides, and she’ll give you a better ride.”

“Boobs and butts don’t matter. OK, they do, but don’t show it.”

“Kiss her in the middle of her sentence. Especially when you think she’s about to get mad on you [sic] for your wrong doing.”

What?

I assume that you made your infograph in an attempt to participate in “gentleman culture.” But this is not gentlemanly, by any stretch of the imagination.

What is chivalrous and polite about piggyback rides, and how does that correlate to sex? Why is sexiness your primary motivation for using good grammar? Why would you even say that thing about boobs and butts? What makes you think that it’s OK to interrupt someone by kissing her, especially if she’s mad at you and probably not in the mood to be kissed?

Then I scrolled back up and read the title of your infograph, and it all became clear.

With “73 Ways to be [an] Insanely Desirable Gentleman,” you have not contributed anything to gentleman culture. Gentleman culture is about teaching men chivalry, helping them express their emotions, and creating a healthy dynamic of mutual respect between genders. It is not about having good manners in an attempt to get laid. Your infograph has only perpetuated a culture of sexism and sexual objectification. But since the harmful ideas are diluted with decent advice about respect and manners, the effects are more deadly. It’s like putting cyanide in a cupcake.

problematic
Another example of fake gentleman culture: advice on etiquette superimposed on a picture of a sexy lady.

You are teaching men, and probably a handful of boys as well, that chivalry is a means to an end. If you’re nice, she will want to have sex with you. If you’re nice, she owes you sex. I call this kind of thinking “fake gentleman culture”–it takes the positive ideals of gentleman culture and twists them so that sex, not kindness and respect, is the primary goal. It is closely related to “fake feminism”–men who call themselves feminists and hope to attract women. Both “fake gentleman culture” and “fake feminism” fall under the umbrella of “nice guys”: those who put on a mask of “niceness” and feel cheated when their good character fails to attract hordes of women.

And your infograph has created more fake gentlemen. Men who act on your advice are expecting to be insanely desirable. When their actions fail to automatically get them sex, they will blame women, not you. Then women, unable to distinguish between your disciples and real gentleman, will start blaming gentleman culture. Neither group will be able to acknowledge the culprit: your twisted vision of chivalry and manners.

I will be blunt. Gentlemen are gentlemanly because it’s the right thing to do. If your motivation for good behavior is sex, you are not a gentleman.

Your fake gentleman culture is garbage.

Yours sincerely,

Remnants of Wit

What do you think about the original infograph? Where do you see “fake gentleman culture”? Let me know in comments!

What is chivalry, anyway? It’s not just for men–it’s a crucial part of humanity. Here is my take on Modesty, Chivalry, and How We’re Getting Both Wrong.

For an example of a “nice guy,” read this comic by Randall Munroe.

 

11 thoughts on “Dear Sir: Your Fake Gentleman Culture is Garbage

  1. I can’t agree more! Like you said it started out ok, if vague, but it went downhill very quickly from there. I’m actually going to do a review of a book that is about chivalry and gentlemanly behavior soon so I was excited to see this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An absolutely great post! I couldn’t agree more! Chivalry is a respect and honor towards whoever. It is not a tool or weapon to use to get something. You open the door towards women & elderly to show them the respect & honor they are due. This was a great post! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved your post, need to check the other, sounds interesting : )
    Maybe it’s not about being a gentleman, but being gentle about being a man on mission.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bravo! This was wonderful. I think there’s a much larger and deeper problem to be examined here wherein many people engage in good behaviour only when they feel observed and incentivised. Somewhere along the line, they have missed the point, conflating rewards for good behaviour with the /motive/ for good behaviour. They scrupulously follow rules of conduct in pursuit of rewards, and miss entirely the principles behind them.

    Anyhow. Back to your post: I admire how, upsetting as this was, you eloquently and logically debunked the idiocy behind it, rather than engage in an impassioned rant. This is the kind of post that can educate someone who perhaps is trying to be a good person, and did not see what was wrong with the infographic. My favourite quote from this: “But since the harmful ideas are diluted with decent advice about respect and manners, the effects are more deadly. It’s like putting cyanide in a cupcake.” Again I will say: Bravo!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I try to be logical and calm instead of impassioned, so I really appreciate your comment. I think you’re absolutely right as well; just because you’re going through the motions of being a “good person” doesn’t mean your motives for doing so are admirable. There’s probably a whole other post there, analyzing why people “miss the point,” as you put it. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Knights In Training by Heather Haupt is a masterpiece. It approaches raising boys with the historical example of medieval knights in mind. I believe raising boys with an understanding of what makes a REAL GENTLEMAN is essential in this era of, as my fellow blogger at Remnants of Wit put it, “Fake Gentlemen Culture.” […]

    Like

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