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Chivalry Isn’t Dead, You Just Don’t Know What the Fuck it is.

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So Chivalry.

I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s dead. It used to be a lament, and then it turned into a joke, and now it’s just a fact that almost everybody accepts. Chivalry is dead, because it’s 2015 and nobody wants to suck your dick for holding the door open for them. And it’s true, nobody wants to do that to your hog in exchange for that minor favor. But that’s not what the fuck chivalry is. Chivalry is a complicated, difficult, and ultimately good code of ethics that you probably have a fundamental misunderstanding of. So let me set some things straight:

1. CHIVALRY IS NOT ABOUT TREATING WOMEN LIKE DELICATE FLOWERS

This is probably the main thing people fuck up about chivalry. The truth is, chivalry has basically fuck all to do with women, and everything to do with horses.

See, the word “chivalry” comes from the French word “chevalier,” which comes from “cheval,” which means “horse.” Chivalry is literally just “rules for if you have a horse.” This was an important set of rules to have in chivalry times. Horses were the Blackhawk Helicopters of the Middle Ages; if you had a horse, you could absolutely kill anybody who didn’t have a horse and nobody was going to say a god damn thing. The only thing stopping you was chivalry.

That’s what chivalry was for. Chivalry was – and still is – basically a way of saying, “okay, I have an optimized death machine between my legs, maybe I should look out for people who don’t have one of these.” So it’s not that chivalry is specifically about defending women because women are weak. It’s that chivalry is about defending people who don’t own horses, and in the middle ages women didn’t own shit.

It’s 2015 now. Women can own as many horses as they want. But there are still power structures built into society that put some people in metaphorical Blackhawk helicopters, and other people underneath those helicopters (sometimes the Blackhawk Helicopters are also literal). Real chivalry is about noticing when you have a horse and somebody else doesn’t. It’s about being careful not to trample people just because you can. It’s about holding the door for a dude in a wheelchair. It’s about actively trying to recruit more people of color in your workplace. Sometimes it really is about sticking up for women, but only if your help is wanted. And even then …

2. CHIVALRY IS NOT A POINTS SYSTEM REDEEMABLE FOR FREE SEX

There are no prizes for being chivalrous, other than the prize of being a decent god damn human. This is because the people who chivalry was invented for were so fucking rich that prizes were totally meaningless to them. In addition to horses, knights also owned fancy armor, sick weapons, and huge tracts of land. They were powerful, exciting people relatively free of disease. They weren’t exactly hard up for sex opportunities, is what I’m trying to say. They didn’t need to invent a complex code of ethics to justify getting shit for free, because they already had all the shit. What do you get for the man who has everything? How about some fucking morals.

Anyway, if you’re desperate for booty, tales of chivalry aren’t the best place to go for inspiration. King Arthur’s court is basically one endless sex disaster, what with Arthur’s accidental incest andLancelot’s righteous wangfoolery. wangfoolery. Tristram and Isolde is a bonerific nightmare that borders on farce. Sir Galahad, the Greatest Knight Ever, is also the biggest virgin in the universe, and he is thrilled about it.It turns out you’re not even allowed to see the grail if you thought about a boob once. The chivalric canon is not overly sex positive, you guys. In fact the only problem-free sex I can recall from my chivalric reading is the story of Sir Gawaine and Lady Ragnell, Ragnell, in which everything turns out for the best because – spoiler alert – Gawaine leaves the decision up to his wife. Funny how that works out, huh?

3. CHIVALRY IS NOT PERFECT, AND NEITHER ARE WE

Like most things invented in the past, chivalry has some problems. One of the problems with chivalry is that horses are no longer the height of technology. The main problem with chivalry, though, is that it can very easily cross over into paternalism, and nobody likes to be treated like a child. It is important to remember that just because you have a horse and somebody else does not have a horse, that does not make you their dad.

Even if you have the best intentions, chivalry isn’t a code you can blindly follow for A+ results. Even if chivalry was perfect, which no moral code is, it’s impossible to be a non-shitty person absolutely all the time. Like, the Knights of the Round Table were probably the most righteous group of horse-havers ever to have horses, but Gawaine chopped a lady’s head off, Lancelot fucked his boss’s wife, and Percival was the biggest idiot ever to hold a sword. sword. Galahad was perfect I guess, but Galahad also had a magic chair with his name written on it in fire and ascended to heaven because he found a neat cup.  cup.  Galahad was a fake person. All of those dudes were fake fucking people.We made them up.The people we made up to be the ideals of chivalry were still remarkably shitty.Back here on earth, nobody is chivalrous all the time, and that’s not sufficient reason to write anybody off. We are all shitty sometimes. Also Galahad is a dickhead.

OKAY SO WHAT IS CHIVALRY THEN?

Chivalry boils down to three things: mercy, charity, and humility. Mercy means being conscious of your advantages, and treating other humans gently. Charity means giving without expecting anything in return. Humility means accepting your mistakes, and recognizing that those who don’t have your advantages aren’t your inferiors. Anybody can embody these traits – woman, man, or even horse. At this point, you may be thinking “hey, this is bullshit, these are just basic guidelines for not being an asshole!” and congratulations, you’re right. That’s all chivalry is: basic guidelines for how not to be a sack of shit. And as long as a sack of shit is not a good thing to be, chivalry will never die.

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iiieeeoo
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effingunicorns
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This is the real reason I own both of this guy's books.

Notes From A Boner

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I wrote this to maybe read at last night’s (EPIC!) Story Club, but the name-draw for open mic slots did not go my way. Still, I didn’t want it to go to waste. So here, without ado (and without comments enabled , b/c it’s a performance piece, not a discussion piece) you go.

Notes From A Boner

They pop up from time to time on Facebook. Time-stamp 3 AM, from an old friend I used to mess around with in college. “Hey, what’s new? I was just thinking about you.”

I bet you were, buddy!

Sometimes they show up in the film class that I teach. I play a clip from Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, to show how color temperature isn’t just a technical thing and you can manipulate it to create mood. “What did you see? What do you think?,” I ask the students.

Every time I do this, a freshman boy says something like “She’s sooooo hot” or better yet, “She used to be so hot,” referring to Jennifer Lopez, who frankly kills it in this role. The girls and gay boys don’t say anything about The Clooney, and I quickly change the topic to “What did you think ABOUT THE LIGHTING” while delivering my best over-the glasses disapproving mom look. The one that says “It is I, Queen Femicunt¹, First of her Name, Khaleesi of the Bitchrealms and the Isles of No Funnington.” I want that boner to slink away and think about what it did. But its presence still lingers. Every clip I show, I now have to think about from the point of view of a taunting, persistent boner.“You’re teaching cinema, I see. Did you know that nearly everything ever created in this medium was designed to make ME happy on some level? Muahahahahaha!

Sometimes the notes from boners get delivered on the street, or on the eL. “Smile!” “You should smile more!” “Hey baby, where’s that smile?” and if I don’t smile, or I smile like this (using two middle fingers to hold up the corners of my mouth),“Bitch!” “Fat bitch” “Ugly bitch” Here I was, walking around, grocery shopping, registering to vote, minding my business. I didn’t know I was making the boners sad. Fortunately The Committee for Boner Rescue and Repair was on the case to educate me. I imagine their letterhead, with Notes from a Boner! Stamped! at the top, ready to deliver humbling memos to grateful citizens everywhere.

Sometimes I write back back to the boners. Like, when I tried to sell my bike on Craigslist, and a guy sent me a dick pic from hisrealname@wherehereallyworks.com. Not wanting that boner to go to waste, I shared it with humanresources@wherehereallyworks.com. Boners are spontaneous. They live in the moment. They don’t always think things through.

Or, you know how sites like LinkedIn will try to get you to plug in your whole email address book when you sign up? Yeah, never do that. Because if you do, every single person you’ve ever emailed in your life will get a request to “connect” on LinkedIn. Like me, that girl you hooked up with one time six years ago. And if I get that request, I will write you recommendations. “Not a leader, but takes direction well.” “A workmanlike and thorough attention to detail.” “Extremely dedicated to his work! Goes above and beyond to close the deal!” That last one was for the guy who tried to sell me his TV the next morning while I was looking for my bra underneath it. “Do you like it? Come by Best Buy later, I can totally hook you up.

When I wrote the rec, he wrote back “Thank you!” and still displays it on his profile.

I’m thinking (hoping?) he has no memory of who I am.

Boners and I have had a pretty great relationship, at times. When I first met one in the wild, my high school boyfriend and I were pretending to watch David Lynch’s Dune. He’d just taken off my shirt AND my bra, the first time anyone had done that, and suddenly suddenly this boner, felt up gingerly through a pair of acid-washed overall jorts, was giving me a LOT of information like HELLO, YOU ARE GREAT, MAYBE THE GREATEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WHO HAS EVER LIVED LET’S STAY LIKE THIS FOREVER. It was a level of approval I was not used to. A mutual appreciation society I was happy to join.

I joined up for real in college. So many boners! So many that seemed to like…me! Some that were attached to people who also liked me (which is by far the best place to get one’s boner-supply), though figuring that out was pretty confusing for a while. Like, clearly your boner likes me more than it has ever liked anyone, how is that not translating into true and lasting love? Maybe if we just try that again it will work and you will become addicted to me, Jennifer, the human, and we can also talk about books and go to museums and fall asleep together holding hands? No? Maybe again? Once more time? Let’s check, just to be sure. The dick is not directly connected to the heart, you say? Okay. I get it. Are you really, REALLY sure, though?

Or sometimes the opposite could be true: We could like alllllll the same books and stay up all night talking and dancing and being kindred spirits like in Anne of Green Gables but the boner would be totally silent on the matter. Reluctant. Shy. Gay as (movie version) Gilbert Blythe.

Nowadays things are much less confusing, at least in my personal life. I’ve achieved Boner Congruence, where my favorite boner is attached to my favorite person, and that’s that. Or it should be. But I feel like I can’t escape from boners and their stupid bonepinions². In my class. On my commute. Being merrily stroked in my general direction on the corner outside The Green Mill. And in every. freaking. internet discussion, there they are. Fucking boners. Women can be discussing literally any topic, and dudes will come interrupt to tell us how it makes boners feel. Sometimes they want to reassure us, like, when we talk about being fat as a feminist issue, or the constrictions of conventional beauty standards, they chime into say “But I like bigger girls.” Well thanks, Internet Stranger-boner! That totally makes up for every bad thing women have ever experienced at the hands of the patriarchy, which definitely for sure does not include you. Other times women will be talking about particle physics or literature or their very responsible jobs, like, running the world and stuff, and the boners feel left out and confused, so they just say completely inane stuff. As if “I would/would not do her” is the one true standard on earth.

Sometimes the boners want to warn us, as in “Maybe that HitlerBieber³-looking dude out in California wouldn’t have shot so many people if some chick had just touched his boner. Guys get so lonely, you really don’t understand what it’s like.

Are you fucking serious, boner-owners? There is not a disapproving mom look IN THE UNIVERSE that is withering enough for this. Imagine being That Girl for a moment, the heroine who sacrifices herself so that others might live, delivering the sad lifesaving handy to the twisted boy with the guns in his murder van. Buffy the Boner-slayer. The Chosen One. Do you think it stops there? Do you think she gets to walk out of that van, out of that relationship, alive? Best case scenario she just postpones it for a little while, and then when the shooting starts, it starts with her.

I guess what I’m saying is that I need the boners to shut the hell up for a while. PEOPLE can speak, just, try to go like a month without letting your boner chime in to offer its thoughts on whether someone is sufficiently hot. Please. I beg you. Because everything that made boners lovable – your enthusiasm, your vulnerability, your indomitable spirit – is now just making me tired. Put the letterhead away. Stop telling me what I can do with my face, with my body, with my attention, with my time. Stop poking yourselves into every conversation, nook, and cranny. DEFINITELY take a seat during all future elections or serious discussions of grownup things that actually affect the way we live our lives. Come out singly, one by one, with your tiny invisible boner-hands in an attitude of surrender, when and only when you’re specifically invited to contribute. Until then, go sit in the corner and think about what you did.

_________________________________________________

1 Credit: Cliff Pervocracy

2 An opinion that hijacks a conversation (or a person’s day) to offer inane and irrelevant commentary on appearance and sexual attractiveness. For example, catcalls, every article ever about a woman politician that discusses her clothes and hair, this science reporter’s “fan” mail.

3 Credit: Robin “Miss Conduct” Abrahams


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iiieeeoo
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"Let me Bing it on my Zune" comes from my friend Sharkey, who has binged many a thing on many a zune

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archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - cute - search - about
April 2nd, 2014next

April 2nd, 2014: OKAY YES changing Dinosaur Comics to a comic where the pictures constantly change was only for April Fools' Day, I GUESS. I guess this is why all those tech companies test the waters by launching new features on April 1st, huh? You can play off your hopes and dreams as a joke.

If you want to recreate this experience, add "&butiwouldratherbereading=onaprilfoolsday2014" to the end of any qwantz comics URL, or, to recreate it EVEN HARDER, add "&butiwouldratherbereading=somethingthatwilldestroymybrain".

There are a bunch of other overlays too! If you are vision-impaired in the way that means reading black text on white is tricky, there's also a "white-on-black" inversed version (assuming your browser supports it: Chrome does). Turns out this feature has legitimate uses!

One year ago today: welcome to a world where the word "reputation" doesn't exist and everything is understood in terms of corporations

– Ryan

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steingart
2403 days ago
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Classic Google
Princeton, NJ

#466; In which Everyone loves the Freak

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Rudolph is a classic Mary Sue. But then again so is Jesus

This comic was originally published (in black & white) in 2008! The version above, colored by Anthony Clark, appears in my book Emperor of the Food Chain.

Click here to read the Scripture that accompanies it in the book.

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#961; In which is desired a Derriere

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Little tiny poot from that little tiny spout / Bumblebee sneezes and it drowns it out

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fancycwabs
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Nashville, Tennessee
iiieeeoo
2625 days ago
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Tired (and now sexually frustrated)

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Jessica in Portland, Oregon was on her way home when she saw this note taped to her neighbors’ door. “I’m best friends with the guys this was addressed to,” she says, “and they actually are very loud when they get down to business. It doesn’t usually bother me because I work night shifts, but obviously it is wearing down the woman downstairs.”

Dear guys from 3D! :) I am the always dreaded downstairs neighbor. As much as I'm happy that you boys have a flourishing relationship...wait...that sounds stalkerish. I meant, I can only assume you have a flourishing relationship due to the fact that you shag. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Now I'm not saying to because you're a gay couple. I wouldn't care if you were flying, purple unicorn dinosaurs. In fact, I'm a huge gay rights supporter. But seriously, EVERY NIGHT?! It's awesome you have a healthy sex life but I don't want to hear it. I'm tired at the end of the night/day (I work irregular hours, you see) & being woken up by or coming home to what seems to be a torture session by the screaming and begging, is not my idea of refreshing. Don't stop by any means, but please quiet down, please? Besides that, you are delightful upstairs neighbors and seem awesome if your music is anything to go by! :) Sincerely - Tired (and now sexually frustrated)

(The “happy ending”: Jessica says her friends sent a note back saying they would try to be more considerate.)

related: WE CAN SEE YOU

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iiieeeoo
2784 days ago
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This is about the cutest note possible on this subject.
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