Mansfield's 'Return to Chivalry' Not Needed

Letters to the Editors

To the editors:

In his op-ed, “The Dangers of Sexual Equality” (Dec. 12), as well as in his Eliot House Faculty Dinner address, Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield ’53 implied that stopping rape requires a return to the days of male chivalry and female chastity. But chivalry, consisting of manners rather than true respect and understanding, is discontinuous and contradictory. It doesn’t apply to sluts, it doesn’t apply to poor women (e.g. maidservants), it doesn’t even have to apply if you are ugly.

Under its regime, the demand for female chastity becomes a weapon for blaming rape survivors, who wouldn’t have been assualted if they weren’t so promiscuous.

If anything, we need new “gentlemen”—and people—who operate by genuine kindness and consideration, who obtain consent first, and are thoughtful of their partner’s feelings and enjoyment.

H. Amelia Chew ’04

Dec. 12, 2003