The Gentleman and the Scoundrel

I believe men and women can be anything they want. We discussed this when we explored the chivalric code weeks ago. I wrote…

Gender roles exist, but a man can be dominant or submissive, just as a woman can be either. The ability to be vulnerable, to show sensitivity and to allow a person to perceive your emotions is not a counter to the chivalric code…to have the will to purposely, with confidence, show such qualities is a strength.

There is give and take in traditional gender roles. It allows us the freedom to be forceful or vulnerable, as long as there is mutual respect. But sometimes our vision is clouded in how we value others and ourselves. When we define ourselves by things other than values…such as by appearances, talents or things we own…and see people as objects…for what they can do for us…then we lose common ground and mutual respect. This may be easy to do when we consider sex. How we treat our bodies, and how we let others treat our bodies is a reflection of how we value our lives. And how we treat our minds, and the people who we let enter our quiet spaces is a reflection of our self-worth.

Consider the scoundrel. He is a cruel man who values the material. His behavior is ego-driven, and he seeks instant gratification. He is competitive, and must “win” by having others “lose.” He is compelled by what he has…the most lavish lifestyle, the fastest car, and the desirable women who turns heads. He sees sex as meaningless, as a bragging right…as such a behavior, he believes, makes him more desirable. A scoundrel treats his sexual partners as objects for pleasure. He may view sex as his identity…he values knowing he is sexually desired and dominant. But this will never satisfy him…as I wrote in my novel, Storyteller’s Rose: “Such a pursuit, such a chase, will yield the hunter no prize. It would leave him seeking what does not exist to fill his emptiness.”

Consider the gentleman. Character values guide his behavior. He does not rely on others for satisfaction or a sense of completeness. He treats his friends with mutual respect, sharing common interests that fulfill him. And he treats his partner in the highest regard, considering her wants and desires as equal to his own. At the very least, he may see sex as a casual recreation, but with respect with his partner. Or he may treat it with the greatest of sanctity…for religious or spiritual reasons, as a sacred covet with the woman he is destined to be with. Or possibly, he may see it as the highest form of exchange…when they lay together they are equals, and give all of themselves to the other.

Why do we treat sex the way we do? Why are the scoundrel and the gentleman so different? The scoundrel is not aware of the impact of his actions, and is not aware of why he acts the way he does…only it feels good. He may have all the excuses…because of past hurt, or he learned this behavior from others, or it is the way he believes the world is…but that will not change his intent, or the hurt he may cause others. The gentleman gives no excuses for his actions and does not fall victim to social pressure. He knows why he acts the way he does and holds himself to one standard…his own.

What do you think? Do you have pity for the scoundrel, or cynicism for the gentleman? Do you think there is a middle ground…or should there be? How can kindness impact how we treat our partners, and ourselves?

This is for you decide, for no one controls your life but you.